Morrissey (born Steven Patrick Morrissey, 22.5.1959)
Morrissey is an English singer and songwriter who first rose to fame as the enigmatic front man of 1980s band The Smiths.
Morrissey was born in Urmston, Lancashire, to Peter and Elizabeth Morrissey, both Irish Catholic immigrants. He was raised, along with his older sister Jackie, in the Hulme area of Manchester. When the terraced streets began to be demolished, however, they moved to Stretford.
Morrissey developed an early interest in music and became fascinated with iconic singers such as Marianne Faithfull and Sandie Shaw, as well as movie icons like James Dean. Whilst he was a child, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley murdered a number of children in Manchester and this had a huge effect on him and his songwriting.
Morrissey's first ever gig was T. Rex at BelleVue in Manchester in 1972. Later in the 1970s, he became obsessed with the New York Dolls and set up a fan club for them. He also founded a fan club for The Cramps. He went on to form his own punk band, the Nosebleeds, with Billy Duffy, who went on to be in Southern Death Cult and The Cult.
Morrissey: The Author
In the early 1980s, Morrissey had two books published by Babylon Books, The New York Dolls and James Dean Is Not Dead.
Morrissey: The Smiths
Morrissey met John Maher (Johnny Marr) in 1982 and the pair began songwriting together. The drummer from The Fall, Simon Wolstencroft, drummed on their demo tapes but was replaced by Mike Joyce. Andy Rourke eventually joined on bass and they soon signed to Rough Trade Records, who released their debut single, 'Hand In Glove' in May 1983. The record was picked up by the BBC DJ John Peel and in February 1984, their debut album, The Smiths was released and went to number two in the UK album chart.
The band's second album, Meat Is Murder was the only studio album that reached number one in the UK album chart. In 1986, Andy Rourke was fired from the band for using heroin, though he was reinstated after two weeks. His temporary replacement, Craig Gannon, stayed in the band, on rhythm guitar. This five piece recorded the single 'Ask' with Kirsty MacColl on vocals. Gannon left the band in 1986 and the band left Rough Trade, signing a deal with EMI, much to the consternation of their fans.
The Smiths split shortly before the release of their fourth album, Strangeways, Here We Come.
Morrissey's debut solo album, Viva Hate was released in 1988. The album was produced by Stephen Street and also included Vini Reilly (of Durutti Column) and Andrew Paresi.
His second LP, Bona Drag, was a compilation of singles and B-sides and non-album tracks, such as 'November Spawned A Monster'.
Kill Uncle was Morrissey's next studio album and was produced by Clive Langer. Mark E. Nevin was brought on board as a songwriter. The band with whom he toured to promote the album later became his studio band for the next album, Your Arsenal, which was produced by Mick Ronson and included the Top 20 single 'We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful'.
Morrissey's second number one album came with 1994's Vauxhall & I. the album included the single 'The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get.' Despite saying at the time that he would quit after the album's release, he went on to record Southpaw Grammar, which reached number four in the UK album charts.
In 1997 - after a brief break due to a lengthy court case with Mike Joyce & Johnny Marr over The Smiths' royalties - Morrissey released the single 'Alma Matters', shortly before the album Maladjusted. Around this time, he moved to Los Angeles.
Morrissey took another, lengthier break from recording, until the release of You Are The Quarry on Attack Records. The lead single from the album was 'Irish Blood, English Heart', which reached number three in the UK singles chart. The album became one of the most successful of his career, selling over 1 million copies.
2006 saw the release of Ringleader of the Tormentors, which was recorded in Rome and featured the singles 'You Have Killed Me' and 'I Just Want To See the Boy Happy'. The album was recorded by previous David Bowie collaborator, Tony Visconti.
In 2007, it was rumoured that Morrissey may write the song for that year's Eurovision Song Contest but nothing came of his talks with the BBC on the matter. That same year, Morrissey ended his contract with Sanctuary Records and undertook a Greatest Hits tour, supported by Girl In A Coma and Kristeen Young.
'I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris' was the lead single from 2009's Years of Refusal.
Morrissey: Controversy & Personal Life
Morrissey has had a number of public feuds, with the likes of Robert Smith (The Cure) and Nicky Wire (Manic Street Preachers). When he took to the stage draped in a Union Jack at Madness' Madstock gig, he was accused of nationalism and of having far right political leanings.
In 2008, when NME pulled their financial support from a Love Music Hate Racism gig in London, Morrissey donated £75,000 to the event. This was following an NME interview with Tim Jonze in 2007, which implied that Morrissey still harboured racist ideas.
Morrissey is outspoken on the subject of vegetarianism and has been vegetarian since the age of 11.
For many years, the media has debated the subject of Morrissey's sexuality. In 1984, Johnny Marr stated that Morrissey was not sexually active at that time but that he had had plenty of girlfriends and male friends in the past.