A look back at the vicious rivalry between Morrissey and The Cure's Robert Smith
(Credit: Bill Ebbesen / Caligvla)

A look back at the vicious rivalry between Morrissey and The Cure’s Robert Smith

It is somewhat of an understatement to say that The Cure’s Robert Smith and former frontman of The Smiths, Morrissey, have never particularly seen eye to eye. The verbal spars the two have found themselves in have been going on since 1984 and they show no signs of being close friends anytime soon.

The feud may have kicked off with vitriol from Morrissey’s side rather than from The Cure man, but the latter was just as guilty for keeping the hatred alive with repeated retaliation.

Tracing the source of the issues, it all began when Morrissey was interviewed as part of a feature in 1984 issue of music magazine The Face where the interviewer provocatively asked him: “If I put you in a room with Robert Smith, Mark E. Smith, and a loaded Smith & Wesson, who would bite the bullet first?”

Morrissey then unloaded his thoughts on The Cure frontman and made sure there was no stone unturned, menacingly stating: “I’d line them up so that one bullet would penetrate them simultaneously… Robert Smith is a whingebag. It’s rather curious that he began wearing beads at the emergence of the Smiths and had been photographed with flowers. I expect he’s quite supportive of what we do, but I’ve never liked the Cure… not even ‘The Caterpillar.’”

This comment from Morrissey, which was largely a hyperbolic version of his actual opinion, found it’s way back to Robert Smith who, quite rightly, fired back with a similar portion of venom, saying: “Morrissey’s so depressing if he doesn’t [off] himself soon, I probably will.”

In 1989, Smith was probed by Q Magazine about if he had anymore to say on the matter and, with a sense of joy, he aimed a shot Morrissey’s music as well as his morbid persona. The Cure singer sniped: “He’s a precious, miserable bastard. He’s all the things people think I am. Morrissey sings the same song every time he opens his mouth. At least I’ve got two songs, ‘The Love Cats’ and ‘Faith.’ If only people knew how easy it is to be in groups like the Smiths…”

In a written Q&A with NME following the release of The Cure’s universally adored album Disintegration, Morrissey had some not so kind words to say describing the seminal record as “absolutely vile” and added: “The Cure: a new dimension to the word ‘crap’.”

To which then Smith could not resist piping up to state: “At least we’ve only added a new dimension in crap, not built a career out of it.”

Over the last few years, the two seemed to have allowed the resentment ti slide away. The fierce nature of their back and forth has subsided—despite Morrissey’s recent controversial stance. In 2018, Smith spoke with The Guardian regarding a potential new Cure album and looked back on his astounding career, where he admitted about his feud with Morrissey that he “never really understood it.” 

Responding a year later, Morrissey was interviewed by his nephew Sam Esty Raymer, who asked if he had any “small regrets”. Morrissey, somewhat surprisingly, then opted to bring up his feud with Smith where he looked to draw a line under it all. He quipped: “Oh, I never make my regrets small… if I can help it. Oh. Umm. Robert Smith. I said some terrible things about him 35 years ago… but I didn’t mean them… I was just being very Grange Hill. It’s great when you can blame everything on Tourette’s syndrome.”

His apology was accepted by Smith who seemingly hadn’t thought about the squabbles over the last 35 years as much as Morrissey had, telling NME: “It [the apology] was brought to my attention, yeah. It was slightly odd as I haven’t really had it at the forefront of my consciousness over the last 20 or 30 years. I don’t know. Even at the time I never quite understood what the problem was. It’s far from important now.”

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