The iconic and irascible lead singer of The Fall passed away at his home on Wednesday morning.
Mark E Smith, the iconic lead singer of long-running British post-punk band The Fall, has died at the age of 60, it has been confirmed.
The group’s manager, Pam Vander, made the announcement on Wednesday evening (January 24th) that Smith had passed away that morning at his home.
“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith,” she said in a statement via The Fall Online. “He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days. In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.”
The group released their most recent album New Facts Emerge in August 2017. It had been reported at the end of last year that Smith had been ill, with tour dates in America towards the end of the year being cancelled, following a performance in Wakefield that saw the singer perform while in a wheelchair.
The incomparable Mark E Smith, who has passed away aged 60
“Unfortunately it would be a gamble on his health to fly anywhere over the next couple of months,” a statement in December had read, revealing the extent of Smith’s health problems. “Mark’s current problems are connected to his throat, mouth/dental and respiratory system… so throwing all the meds together and continuing with the travel/shows would certainly harm any progress that we have made over the past few weeks.”
Smith was the sole constant member of The Fall from its inception in late 1977, recording 32 studio albums and countless live records over four decades – and notoriously getting through more than 60 different band members with his quick-fire hiring policy that was almost as prolific as the group’s recorded output.
One of those former collaborators was Marc Riley, who was fired from the band in 1983 and is now a DJ for BBC Radio 6 Music. He was one of the many to lead the tributes to Smith on Wednesday evening.
“Aged 16 he really did teach me so much,” Riley told listeners to his show. “The Fall were my favourite band when I joined and they were still my favourite band when I got kicked out.”
Famously finding a champion in BBC DJ John Peel, for whom The Fall recorded no fewer than 24 sessions over the years, the group maintaining a sizeable cult fanbase, without ever really breaking through to mainstream success. Illustrating that, The Fall had 27 singles that hit the UK’s Top 100, but only three that ever got into the Top 40 – and two of those were cover versions.
The Fall’s influence on subsequent generations of musicians, however, has been inestimable, with groups ranging from Sonic Youth in the early ‘80s and Pavement in the '90s right through to contemporary acts such as Shame and Fat White Family acknowledging their impact.
More: BBC bosses apologise for wrongly announcing Mark E Smith’s death [2017 archive]