The Smiths founding member, Johnny Marr, is a pioneer in every sense of the word. The musician is one of the most vital figures in shaping modern alternative music as we know it today and, whenever the topic turns to the greatest guitarist of all time, his name is rightly considered. The trademark jangly sound that Marr developed back in the early 1980s not only soundtracked a generation but an era that went on to take inspiration from his work, which is still prevalent today.
In truth, almost every factor of Marr’s creative output is exquisite. His guitar playing is up there with the very best that have come since Jimi Hendrix; he’s played with some of the most extraordinary talents of the last 40 years and doesn’t have questionable politics like a certain former bandmate of his. Marr’s love for music has never waned as the years progressed as he embarked on a stellar solo career which has finally seen him receive the love that he well and truly deserves. While many people from Marr’s generation have stayed transfixed in the time period that they gained success, Marr has been quite the opposite, always on the move, working with the likes of The Cribs and Modest Mouse in an effort to maintain a relentlessly forward-thinking output.
Trying to peek behind the curtain, we revisit an interview from 2016 when Marr was asked questions by Fred Perry Subculture, which ranged from the records that shaped moments in his life to what he’s listening to at the minute. The discussion spawned some fascinating answers and an incredible sneak into his personal record collection. In his playlist, Marr reveals that the first song he ever had on repeat was ‘Jeepster’ by T.Rex, which is an effort that Marr has professed his love for on plentiful occasions in the past. “The first 45 I ever bought with my own money was a T. Rex record, which, luckily, is very cool,” Marr admitted to Pitchfork before self depreciatingly noting, “It was a fluke, though—it was in a bargain shoebox in a furniture store, and I didn’t know what it was.”
He continued: “But I bought it because it had a picture of Marc Bolan on the B-side label, and I figured I was getting more bang for my buck! I fell in love with that image. The song was ‘Jeepster’, and I didn’t have to learn to love it because those thunking guitar riffs were so great.”
Discovering that record at just 10-years-old was an eye-opening moment for Marr, who, at the time, had been enlightened into the world of rock ‘n’ roll, which he had acquired a taste for at such an early age. Since that moment, he has never looked back.
Elsewhere, Marr reveals that the one song that he wishes he had written is ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ by The Kinks. He also explained that he’d been listening to Savages, Telegram, Thee Oh Sees, Holy Fuck and squeezed in a sneaky mention of his son’s band Man Made. On top of that, Marr reiterated that Iggy Pop’s Raw Power was his favourite record of all time and singled out the track ‘Shake Appeal’ as his personal favourite from the album.
“I got into Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges because a friend of mine who was a little older, Billy Duffy, now of the Cult, heard me playing a riff I’d written, and he kept saying that it sounded like James Williamson from the Stooges, who I had never heard,” Marr said on another occasion with SPIN. “I thought I’d better check this Raw Power record out as it sounded intriguing, just the words Iggy and the Stooges and Raw Power, so I went to find it. I was always looking through the racks in the record shops in Manchester, and when I came across it I got an actual physical jolt from the cover and vibe of it. I went back a week later and bought it for about £3.50. On the bus ride home, I just stared at it in awe,” Marr recalled fondly.
“What first struck me about Raw Power was a beautiful darkness to it, a sophistication almost. It delivered exactly what was on the cover: other-worldly druggy rock’n’roll, sex, violence, but strangely beautiful somehow. From then on, I just climbed into a world with that record,” Marr complimentary noted about the 1973 record.
Check out the songs that make up Johnny Marr’s record collection, below.
Johnny Marr’s 11 Favourite Songs
- T. Rex – ‘Jeepster’
- The Stooges – ‘Raw Power’ (Iggy Pop Mix)
- The Kinks – ‘All Day and All of the Night’
- Savages – ‘The Answer’
- Telegram – ‘You Said You Saw Us’
- Man Made – ‘Raining in My Head’
- Thee Oh Sees – ‘Flood’s New Light’
- Holy Fuck – ‘Xed Eyes’
- Buzzcocks – ‘What Do I Get?’
- Magazine – ‘Shot By Both Sides’
- The Animals – ‘It’s My Life’