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Music

Johnny Marr and his "understanding" with Noel Gallagher

There are many similarities between Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher. Respectively, they’re two of the most well-respected figures in British music, have been in two of the most influential bands of all time, remain pioneering guitar heroes, and are lifelong Manchester City fans. 

While their guitar-playing styles may vary, with Marr’s busy picking style very different to the more crunchy open chords that Gallagher often utilises, the pair are kindred spirits. You’d argue that this has much to do with their upbringings in the northwest and their musical backgrounds. 

Johnny Marr’s first band, The Smiths, are one of the finest groups to have come out of Manchester, and they galvanised Gallagher’s generation. Famously, their fates were tied together forever after when Marr leant Gallagher a vintage Les Paul in the early days of Oasis. 

In a conversation with Zane Lowe back in 2019, the former Oasis man heaped praise on Marr and Co. He revealed to the Beats 1 Radio host that he’d love The Smiths to reform, mentioning the later iteration of the band that featured multi-instrumentalist Craig Gannon, Gallagher said: “I would love, and it’s never gonna happen, it’s a thing in a parallel universe, if The Smiths got back together. I’m Craig Gannon and I’d go to Johnny and say don’t get another guitarist mate – I’m your man.”

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If it were ever to happen, Gallagher’s name would surely be in the mix as a potential second guitarist. This feeling comes from a 2021 interview Marr had with Stereogum, where he shed light on his long friendship with Gallagher, explaining that he feels the pair share a mutual “understanding”.

Marr said: “The thing about Noel and I — OK, he’s a well-known public figure. I’m known to a lesser extent, and we’re good friends. When he’s talking about me playing on a record, he knows I know he’s fucking serious. I played on his second solo record, The Ballad Of The Mighty I. This last one I played on, ‘If Love Is The Law.’ I’ve never played on a song like that before, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pop song like that before. It sounds like it’s Ennio Morricone. I don’t know what it sounds like. It certainly doesn’t sound like Oasis.”

The former Smiths man continued: “We have an understanding. We’ve been friends now for something like 30 years. I’ve seen his life journey, if you want to put it like that, through navigating insane national fame over here and all the things that that brings. He’s a hell of a lot more than meets the eye, Noel Gallagher.”

Saving the best praise for last, Marr concluded: “He’s very disciplined. He’s one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever worked with, without a shadow of a doubt. Maybe even the most disciplined. Incredibly industrious. Then there’s the other side of his life. He can’t walk 100 meters around the British Isles without people stopping him for selfies, and he’s not insane. [Laughs] I would be, without a doubt. I only have to get stopped five times and I go into a meltdown about culture. He’s a very impressive dude.”

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