The Smiths: The dirtiest break-up in rock history?

Worm

Taste the diffidence
:straightface:

Being a gajillionaire in no way minimizes the fact that that was one messy break-up, with legal wrangles that were written up in law journals, and personal feuds that persisted for decades.

Even bazillionaires (especially bazillionaires) get very, very dirty.

The point is, there was a safety net. No matter how dicey things got, the members of the group, and probably a few of their close collaborators, were wealthy and would always be wealthy. There was no danger of a major fall from grace. Nobody had to worry about John busing tables in Bangkok, George overdosing in a cheap Hollywood motel, or Ringo being forced into making bad comedies about sparring tribes of kooky cavemen. The details of cases like Milli Vanilli's are much more sordid. They went from penthouse to basement in one freefall down a long and winding elevator shaft. The Beatles had golden parachutes in comparison.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Its Johnny Marr's fault.He left.He seems like this passive-agressive,manipulative and sneaky type.And he likes to play victim.

You mean, like the glorious St. Morrissey, who basically got Marr to do every bit of his dirty work throughout the lifetime of the band, and then ignored him when it got too much and acted surprised when he left?
 

Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
The point is, there was a safety net. No matter how dicey things got, the members of the group, and probably a few of their close collaborators, were wealthy and would always be wealthy. There was no danger of a major fall from grace. Nobody had to worry about John busing tables in Bangkok, George overdosing in a cheap Hollywood motel, or Ringo being forced into making bad comedies about sparring tribes of kooky cavemen. The details of cases like Milli Vanilli's are much more sordid. They went from penthouse to basement in one freefall down a long and winding elevator shaft. The Beatles had golden parachutes in comparison.

Well, if we're going to be pedantic about this topic, I don't think that wealth really enters the equation when you're discussing traumatic band break-ups. The essence of a bad break-up is the destruction of emotional ties, the death of artistic dreams, and the feasting of lawyers upon the carcass.

Yes, none of the Beatles had to worry about financial matters, but they still had grievous, prolonged, unresolved emotional rivalries and years of complex, attenuated legal wrangling. Their break-up was terribly dirty in the sense that four best friends became bitter, disenchanted, burned-out wrecks whose break-up was the end of a great friendship and an incredible band that affected many lives. Sure, each of them could recover in the South of France downing caviar and Dom Perignon, but their band still died a nasty death.

Milli Vanilli, on the other hand, didn't really break up (as you pointed out). They suffered a spectacular public humiliation, but they started out as a product, and ultimately their demise (and the sad loss of a life) didn't really amount to much more than a pathetic flameout. They didn't really have very far to fall.
 

PregnantForTheLastTime

Hideous trait.
The Smiths' breakup was probably actually not unusual for a band. Intense personalities, people who are not natural communicators or negotiators, inept management, jealously over relative contributions and talent, money squabbles... artists are not usually good businessmen. I imagine a lot of bands break up over the exact same reasons, from tiny local bands who just can't get their shit together, to huge bands like the Beatles who just can't keep their shit together. If everything worked, they wouldn't have broken up, right?

A few chilly "Dear Johnny" notes and a few rumors floated through, by, or via the press aren't especially dirty. If The Smiths' business was in good shape, they would have overcome that.
 

JoanOfArc

Hidden
Re: errrrrrr

Do you know The Smiths didn't have a manager to deal with day-to-day business?
Morrissey and Johnny had to do everything by themselves.
If Morrissey could trust someone who could act as their manager, Johnny wouldn't had been pressured too much.
And so?And what about pressure on Morrissey?He surely felt pressure too,yet he didnt leave.Marr left without a word,it was very disrespectful(btw.he left 3days before Morrissey's birthday-so "accidental").And then he plotted with his manager,Morrissey couldnt use"The Smiths" name etc.What a backstabbing behaviour.Disgusting.Soooo nice,yes indeed Johnny Marr is so nice.
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Re: errrrrrr

And so?And what about pressure on Morrissey?He surely felt pressure too,yet he didnt leave.Marr left without a word,it was very disrespectful(btw.he left 3days before Morrissey's birthday-so "accidental").And then he plotted with his manager,Morrissey couldnt use"The Smiths" name etc.What a backstabbing behaviour.Disgusting.Soooo nice,yes indeed Johnny Marr is so nice.

Morrissey deflected any pressure he felt onto Marr because he's never been able to handle responsibility like an adult. Marr left because he had had enough of being Morrissey's dogsbody and trying to run the band on his own - and he did so in July, not May.

Also, Marr didn't 'plot' with anybody - he didn't even know Morrissey intended to keep on using The Smiths' name until a few months after the split - and why the hell should he allow it? Marr started that band and without him it is not the "Smiths", its just Morrissey and a backing band.
 

JoanOfArc

Hidden
Re: errrrrrr

Morrissey deflected any pressure he felt onto Marr because he's never been able to handle responsibility like an adult. Marr left because he had had enough of being Morrissey's dogsbody and trying to run the band on his own - and he did so in July, not May.

Also, Marr didn't 'plot' with anybody - he didn't even know Morrissey intended to keep on using The Smiths' name until a few months after the split - and why the hell should he allow it? Marr started that band and without him it is not the "Smiths", its just Morrissey and a backing band.
Sorry but the first song ive ever heard by Morrissey was "The Last of the Famous International Playboys",i was a kid,but totally loved it.And it was Morrissey solo work,so i dont care about The Smiths so much,they only helped Morrissey to show his talent.It was all about Morrissey anyway,about his talent,his voice,and his charisma.Johhny Marr doesnt count.So i dont feel sorry that the band split coz i prefer Morrissey solo work anyway.
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Re: errrrrrr

Sorry but the first song ive ever heard by Morrissey was "The Last of the Famous International Playboys",i was a kid,but totally loved it.And it was Morrissey solo work,so i dont care about The Smiths so much,they only helped Morrissey to show his talent.It was all about Morrissey anyway,about his talent,his voice,and his charisma.Johhny Marr doesnt count.So i dont feel sorry that the band split coz i prefer Morrissey solo work anyway.

You prefer Morrissey solo - fair enough. But why try to degrade Johnny Marr? He was absolutely essential to The Smiths and they could never have been the same without him - Morrissey has acknowledged as much countless times. Morrissey's words are useless without competent, imaginative musicians to give them a backdrop. Or would you be fine just listening to him sing over bongos?
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Re: errrrrrr

Really?So show me the quote to prove it.

It's in "The Severed Alliance", and on Wikipedia if you can't be bothered with that. When Johnny went to LA, Morrissey assumed he was coming back - it was only at the start of autumn that the shit really hit the fan.
 

CrystalGeezer

My secret's my enzyme.

modrevolve

Standard Model
The Stone Roses was more sad, pathetic and depressing than anything..At least The Smiths broke up at the top of their game.

 
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Worm

Taste the diffidence
Well, if we're going to be pedantic about this topic, I don't think that wealth really enters the equation when you're discussing traumatic band break-ups. The essence of a bad break-up is the destruction of emotional ties, the death of artistic dreams, and the feasting of lawyers upon the carcass.

Yes, none of the Beatles had to worry about financial matters, but they still had grievous, prolonged, unresolved emotional rivalries and years of complex, attenuated legal wrangling. Their break-up was terribly dirty in the sense that four best friends became bitter, disenchanted, burned-out wrecks whose break-up was the end of a great friendship and an incredible band that affected many lives. Sure, each of them could recover in the South of France downing caviar and Dom Perignon, but their band still died a nasty death.

Milli Vanilli, on the other hand, didn't really break up (as you pointed out). They suffered a spectacular public humiliation, but they started out as a product, and ultimately their demise (and the sad loss of a life) didn't really amount to much more than a pathetic flameout. They didn't really have very far to fall.

Well, it's an interesting question, isn't it? Expanding the conceptual boundaries a smidge, did The Beatles die a nasty death? You're correct to say the band's demise, in the limited sense of 'human resources', was nasty. But The Beatles have thrived in the last thirty-odd years as a brand name. They've continued to inspire and delight new generations of fans. As the recent "Rock Band" game attests, they're more popular than ever.

"How tiresome", you say, "Why do you insist on splitting hairs?"

May I come to my supertopsecret point?

If a band survives as a brand, retaining its position on top of the mountain, its demise can neither be total nor, I would further argue, all that messy in a negative sense. You likened their death to a carcass. Well, as you know, nothing's better in the middle of a forest than a dead animal's carcass. The messier the corpse, the more life it breeds. Out of The Beatles' carcass came four (okay, three) individuals who made a lot of good post-Beatles music-- not as good as the original band, but often very good-- while The Beatles' back catalog continued to sell like gangbusters, and continues to do so today. Out of death, life.

Which is how I view the The Smiths: not the full stop of a car crash, as with Milli Vanilli (or Lynyrd Skynyrd), but the transition of matter from one form to another that takes place in and around a dead animal's carcass (ironic imagery, in the case of The Smiths). The great bands don't die. They survive as monuments even as their constituent souls undergo metempsychosis into different beings.

Which begs the reassessment of what we should expect from our great bands, and how we should define success. The Beatles are more successful as a dead band than survivors like the Rolling Stones, just as The Smiths are more successful as ghosts than (say) Echo & The Bunnymen as grizzled veterans. This we can call the Obi-Wan Kenobi rule.

Johnny was right: four albums were enough.
 

Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
"How tiresome", you say, "Why do you insist on splitting hairs?"

It's unlike you to misconstrue my meaning, Worm - I did not say "how tiresome" it is to do anything, much less split hairs. I often love splitting hairs, it sometimes leads one down an unexpectedly interesting path. Nor did I phrase it as a question, nor was my comment directed solely at you. I used the word "pedantic" to address the point I was about to make in a somewhat (I thought) lighthearted manner. Perhaps a ;) or a :) would have helped here.

If a band survives as a brand, retaining its position on top of the mountain, its demise can neither be total nor, I would further argue, all that messy in a negative sense.

I do believe that a band's demise can be painful and complete for the people involved, without being detrimental to that band's place in history. John Lennon reacted to all the hullabaloo over The Beatles breakup by pointing out that they were just a rock band, nothing terribly important at all. To John it was well over, and he was relieved to move on. Ditto George, Paul and (I suppose) Ringo. In the minds of the Beatles, their demise was total.

Ditto The Smiths. To this day Morrissey takes pains to point out that The Smiths are a relic from an impossibly long time ago, and he is not the person he was then. He's definitively moved on, even though most of us have not. That demise was total, too; to the members of a band it is like a death or a divorce - a breaking point in life which marks the start of something new. To the rest of us it is an entirely different matter.

You likened their death to a carcass. Well, as you know, nothing's better in the middle of a forest than a dead animal's carcass. The messier the corpse, the more life it breeds. Out of The Beatles' carcass came four (okay, three) individuals who made a lot of good post-Beatles music-- not as good as the original band, but often very good-- while The Beatles' back catalog continued to sell like gangbusters, and continues to do so today. Out of death, life.

Yes, this is so; we all feed on those (metaphorical) carcasses every day - it's a beautiful thing, and it's part of the transcendent nature of art, and of the artist. There's no need to drag meat into this. :)

Which is how I view the The Smiths: not the full stop of a car crash, as with Milli Vanilli (or Lynyrd Skynyrd), but the transition of matter from one form to another that takes place in and around a dead animal's carcass (ironic imagery, in the case of The Smiths). The great bands don't die. They survive as monuments even as their constituent souls undergo metempsychosis into different beings.

Yes, great bands continue to survive as monuments, or ghosts, or echoes, or layers in a cultural palimpsest. They are frozen in time like (I can't help myself here) those figures on Keat's urn:

And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;

It's a wondrous form of immortality - not for the artist as a person, but for that part of the artist that is expressed in their art.

Which begs the reassessment of what we should expect from our great bands, and how we should define success. The Beatles are more successful as a dead band than survivors like the Rolling Stones, just as The Smiths are more successful as ghosts than (say) Echo & The Bunnymen as grizzled veterans. This we can call the Obi-Wan Kenobi rule.

Yes, how does one define success? From a musician's point of view I imagine success is a living thing - taking joy in what you do in the moment. If I may paraphrase David Lynch (amongst so many others): the pleasure in in the process, not in the results. If you are not happy with what you are doing, then quit.

The Beatles continue to inspire, being crystallized in time, uncorruptible; The Stones are zombies who show up at stadiums to drag their collective carcass around just a few more times before allowing it to disintegrate completely. If the Stones are happy, then I can't fault them.

Poor Echo and The Bunnymen, time has not been too kind.

I kinda forgot what Obi-Wan Kenobi did - you must be referring to the way he sacrificed himself as a man, so that he could live on as a motivational speaker. I would agree with that, I suppose.

Johnny was right: four albums were enough.

I'm sure that J. Marr has made his peace with The Smiths. They probably had another great album in them, had the stars lined up just right, but they seldom do. We're all very lucky to have what we have.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Morrissey really got over really quickly. But I do believe the hate was resting inside him.. and everything he thought about Smiths break-up was writeen in Viva Hate...

So, he didn't really get over it quickly. He just pretended to - bravado to show Johnny he could cope without him, perhaps?
 

Kewpie

Member
Moderator
Subscriber
So, he didn't really get over it quickly. He just pretended to - bravado to show Johnny he could cope without him, perhaps?



Almost all the interviews after the split when Morrissey was asked about the reunion, he was very eagar to bring back The Smiths one day.

Very unfortunate that Mike and Andy's shortsightedness destroyed the possiblility. :(
 

MyDoppelganger

Such a Nice Guy
Its Johnny Marr's fault.He left.He seems like this passive-agressive,manipulative and sneaky type.And he likes to play victim.

I think this is such bullshit. Marr was exhausted. It wasn't exactly any fault of his own.
 
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