Smiths bassist Andy Rourke will be a light that never goes out
By Lee Vowell
Andy Rourke, likely best known for being the bassist of The Smiths, passed away on Friday at age 59. Rourke had battled pancreatic cancer for several years. But thanks to the music he helped make, he will never truly be gone.
While The Smiths were a four-piece, because of the iconic nature of singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, it's almost easy to overlook the part that Rourke played. But he had a lyrical style on the bass that meshed perfectly with Marr's sound. Rourke made the band stay close to pop, even when Marr would sometimes veer closer to jazz.
The rhythm he supplied helped Marr's melodies stand out even more on songs like "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and "William, It Was Really Nothing." But perhaps Rourke's best song was possibly also one of the band's best (and therefore, one of the history of music's best), "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." The nimbleness of Rourke's musicianship allowed the song to bounce to Morrissey's ironic lyrics.
There are some Smiths fans that might have mixed feelings toward Rourke. He is, after all, a big reason the band never played again after 1987. Rourke sued Marr and Morrissey for song royalties in the 1990s and it's tough for bands to come together after that, of course.
Rourke also had a heroin addiction in the mid-1980s which led to The Smiths letting him go for a short time. He did come back to play with the band, however, and helped record the band's final album, Strangeways, Here We Come. Rourke even played bass on some of Morrissey's early solo records.
Rourke was much more than just The Smiths, though. He formed several short-term bands with artist like Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries (D.A.R.K.) and Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order (Freebass). He also had a radio show on East Village Radio after moving to New York.
And while Rourke's passing is sad for many reasons, it could also yield something he would likely truly love. Maybe, just maybe, Marr and Morrissey decide to reconnect over the passing of the former friend and bandmate. If that happens, the world would be a better place, and wherever Rourke is, he would likely smile as well.