Johnny Marr Talks About The Smiths’ Notoriety & Media Obsession


Johnny Marr recently reflected on his time in the Smiths. He talked about the band’s “blind spot” of being obsessed with media attention.

Up until their split in 1987, the Smiths became indie darlings at the height of their popularity.

However, Marr has now admitted that the band would have benefitted with less media coverage at the height of the band’s fame during the 1980s.

“I was in a very very big ‘music press’ band, which now I’m older I think we could’ve done with less of that”, Marr said.

Check out what Marr had to say on a documentary of the band from 2003 here. 

“A blind spot for the Smiths”

While he insists it did not lead to the band’s downfall, Marr did say that the obsession for notoriety and media attention was certainly a “blind spot for the Smiths”.

Marr also added that there was “particularly one certain member of the group” who was especially obsessed with media attention.

“I wouldn’t say it was our downfall but I think it was a blind spot of The Smiths, being so occupied with the media and notoriety – particularly one certain member of the group”, he said. “I think that could’ve been dialled down a bit and would’ve helped the group out”. 

Marr also said in the same interview that the enduring legacy of Manchester’s music is down to the achievments of “working class” bands like Oasis, the Stone Roses and the Smiths of course.

“I think a lot of it is to do with working-class entertainment and the history and legacy of working class entertainment”, commented Marr.

“So in my case, and say in the case of the Gallaghers – Noel particularly, and say, Mani from the Roses – we came from immigrant families, all The Smiths in fact”, he added.

“The DNA of working people”

Johnny Marr’s own family originally hail from county Kildare. Marr feels that their “obsession for music” rubbed off on him as well as an “awareness for the club scene” where all the show bands would play.

“What rubbed off on me was not only their enthusiasm and pretty much their obsession for music – which they still have to this day, my parents – but the awareness of the club scene, where all the show bands would play, and this thing about going out to let off some steam and be part of a community as well”, he remarked.

“The Irish for example are not really that dissimilar from the Eastern Europeans in that a lot of them grew up in villages and a lot of them made their own music in their kitchens with brothers and sisters and aunties, uncles and grandparents, for entertainment – and they brought that with them”, he continued.

“It’s in the DNA of working people”, he added. “It’s not just about escapism, I think it’s a lot to do with community”.

Back in April, we brought you the news that Marr’s former bandmate Morrissey blasted the Simpsons for sending up the Smiths in an episode featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. More on that here.