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Mark E. Smith: "A true uncompromising musical maverick. A genius"


The music world has been paying tribute to Mark E. Smith who sadly passed away yesterday.

Smith, the snarling frontman for Manchester post-punk band The Fall, has been a marauding presence on the music scene for over 40 years. Dominating the stage in a semi-consciousness while snarling and slurring his words was a compelling as anything we’ve come to understand in alternative music.

Naming the band after an Albert Camus novel, Smith’s infatuation with literature followed him throughout his life. While working as a shipping clerk in Salford, Smith decided to start the band after witnessing a show by The Sex Pistols in Manchester: “When I first saw The Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 76, I thought, my lot are not as bad as that,” he wrote in his 2008 autobiography Renegade. “We’re better.”

He went on to pay for a studio space for The Fall by earning money playing pool and reading tarot cards: “They thought it was too serious, overlooking the humour of it all,” he said. “That’s the story of my life, actually.”

A man with so much aggression on stage managed to touch the hearts of an industry, influencing their sound and inspiring their dedication to music: “Mark E Smith was a complex, driven man. I greatly admired him as an artist and – both despite and because of his eccentricities – really liked him as a person. Riot in Righteousness, Mark mate,” wrote Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in tribute.

Comedian Vic Reeves added: “My good friend and my hero. You’ll be so terribly missed by me and millions others. Your words meant more to me than anyone.”

“Like Bowie, Mark E Smith’s death is being mourned by all ages. I think of him as the gunpowder of the late 70s. Others claim him in the 80s. Yet more for the 90s and then there’s those who caught up with him in this century. That tells you everything,” Broadcaster Danny Baker wrote in Twitter.

Frank Skinner took to the radio to pay tribute to one of his idols: “I have stood in many dark clubs watching Mark E Smith prowling the stage amidst a swirl of mic leads and gaffer tape, interfering with speaker knobs, prodding discordantly at keyboards, proclaiming his dark lyrics like a man shouting from a prison window. They were the most exciting music gigs I ever saw or will ever see.

“Mark went his own way, regardless of fashion or financial rewards. He produced the most original, thought-provoking, spine-tingling music I’ve ever heard,” the TV and radio presenter said.

“When I finally got to interview him, he turned up an hour late and greeted me with ‘Hello, Stewart’. I loved him. He was quite simply better than all the rest. I thought he’d live forever. He seemed too belligerent to die. But he has and oh the difference to me.”

Brix Smith Start, who was once bandmate and wife of Smith, added: “I’m taking the news in right now. I will put a statement out tomorrow. I hope you will all understand.

“Thank you for your lovely messages, they mean a lot. I love you, Brix”.

Meanwhile, singer Tim Burgess wrote: “So so sad to hear that we’ve lost Mark E Smith. A true uncompromising musical maverick. A genius, a curmudgeon and someone whose company it was an honour to share. So long M.E.S x x x”