The long-awaited memoir from the legendary guitarist and cofounder of the seminal British band The Smiths.
An artist who helped define a period in popular culture, Johnny Marr tells his story in a memoir as vivid and arresting as his music. The Smiths, the band with the signature sound he cofounded, remains one of the most beloved bands ever and have had a profound influence on a number of acts that followed - from the Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, and Radiohead to Oasis, The Libertines, and Arctic Monkeys.
Marr recalls his childhood growing up in the northern working-class city of Manchester, in a house filled with music. He takes us back to the summer of 1982, when, at 18, he sought out one Stephen Morrissey to form a new band they called The Smiths. Marr invites fans onstage, on the road, and in the studio for the five years The Smiths were together and shares how, after a rapid ascent, the working-class teenage rock star enjoyed and battled with the perks of success until ideological differences, combined with his much publicized strained relationships with his bandmates, caused him to leave in 1987. Marr's "escape", as he calls it, ensured the beginning of the end for one of the most influential groups of a generation.
But The Smiths' end was only the beginning for Marr. The bona fide guitar hero continues to experiment and evolve in his solo career to this day, playing with Paul McCartney, Pretenders, Modest Mouse, and Oasis and collaborating with today's most creative and renowned artists.
Rising above and beyond the personal struggles and bitter feuds, Marr delivers the story of his music and his band, sharing the real insights of a man who has made music his life and finally giving fans what they've truly been waiting for.
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If you're a fan, a good read
If you're a fan of Johnny Marr, guitar playing in general, or how an artist integrates influences, this is a worthy read that gives a good solid glimpse of Johnny Marr's world view. Lots of celebrity stories, but you can hear how the man tries hard to overcome hero and celebrity worship. Also, just how much his relentless pursuit of avoiding complacency, personally, artistically, and as a person. I've always suspected JM is a difficult man to work with. He may be. But his passion for music, for the guitar, pushing his own boundaries and taking risks, and his wide open ears across a huge range of pop sub-genres...well, he's had a very cool life so far. Oh, and see his solo band live if you can, too.
While it doesn't really convey, one feels, all the nuances of events like his separation from The Smiths, it definitely does give you a feel for how these events impacted him, personally and artistically. An enjoyable read with a dark and compelling wit that belies the seriousness of his pursuits and lightens up that impression you might have that his music is mired in misery.
Great book by one of the greats.
- Brendan Mitchell