Morrissey: Andy Rourke will never die as long as his music is heard

Morrissey has said his former bandmate Andy Rourke “will never die as long as his music is heard”.

The former frontman of The Smiths said Rourke “didn’t ever know his own power” in an online tribute.

It was announced on Friday that Rourke had died at the age of 59 “after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer”.

The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr was among those to lead tributes, alongside other musicians including The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess and folk singer Billy Bragg.

In a statement, Morrissey said: “Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly.

“When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments… as if their death is there to be used.

“I’m not prepared to do this with Andy. I just hope … wherever Andy has gone … that he’s OK.

“He will never die as long as his music is heard.

“He didn’t ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done.

Andy Rourke death
The Smiths’ original line-up comprised of Morrissey, Marr (left), Rourke (right) and drummer Mike Joyce (Steve Parsons/PA)

“He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity – never any manufactured moves.

“I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that.”

In his own post on Instagram, Marr said it was an “absolute privilege” to play alongside Rourke.

He wrote about moving in with Rourke as a boy and how he was “one of those rare people that absolutely no-one doesn’t like”.

He said: “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.

“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session. Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader.

“Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold.”

The Smiths’ original line-up comprised of Rourke, Morrissey, Marr and drummer Mike Joyce.

The band had a string of hits in the 1980s with songs like There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and This Charming Man.

The demise of the Manchester four-piece was one of the most spectacular in the UK music world, the fallout of which saw Joyce and Rourke taking Morrissey and Marr to court over royalties in 1989.

The band, powered by the songwriting partnership of Marr and Morrissey, split up in 1987, having released albums including The Smiths and Meat Is Murder and earning three top 10 hits.

Rourke’s career extended beyond The Smiths, playing alongside The Pretenders and Sinead O’Connor, as well as with the supergroup Freebass, which included Gary Mounfield from the Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order.

Bragg’s tribute on Twitter said: “I have great memories of him playing with Johnny Marr and myself on the Red Wedge tour. He was a lovely guy and an amazing bass player.”

US band The Cribs also posted an online tribute to Rourke, writing that he was “very supportive and encouraging and cool”.

“Having his blessing meant the world to us,” the statement said.