Johnny Marr is a British singer-songwriter who is best known for being the guitarist of the highly influential English band the Smiths, whose famous songs include How Soon Is Now, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and This Charming Man. Aside from his highly successful career with the Smiths, he also made a name for himself as a solo artist and as a member of the following bands, Modest Mouse, Johnny Marr And The Healers, The The, Electronic and The Cribs.
As a solo artist, Marr has over the years released a number of famous songs such as New Town Velocity, European Me and Easy Money.
Johnny Marr was born on October 31, 1963 in Manchester, England to Irish emigrants Frances Patricia Doyle and John Joseph Maher. Marr and his future wife Angie met several years before he formed the Smiths. The couple has been together since then. They have two children together: a son named Nile and a daughter named Sonny.
Facts about Johnny Marr
- Marr’s real name is John Martin Maher. However, around the age of 14, he changed his surname from “Maher” to “Marr”. According to him, two reasons made him change his name. The first was because too many people mispronounced “Maher”. The second reason was because the name “Maher” was the name of another musician from Manchester (John Maher). Marr didn’t want to be confused with John Maher, who at that time played drums for the Manchester-based punk rock band the Buzzocks.
- Prior to venturing fully into music, Marr wanted to become a professional footballer. At some point, he even had trials to play for the popular Manchester football club Manchester City F.C.
- At the young age of 13, Marr began his first band, along with future Smiths member Andy Rourke.
- Marr formed the Smiths in 1982 with Morrissey.
- After playing an instrumental role in turning the Smiths into one of the England’s most influential rock bands of all time, Marr left the Smiths in August 1987. Upon his departure from the Smiths, the other members tried in vain to find a guitarist to replace Marr, and that led to the demise of the band that same year. According to Marr, his favorite Smiths album is Strangeways, Here We Come. Coincidentally, that album is also Morrissey’s favorite Smiths album.
- During his career with the Smiths, the band’s massive success took so much toll on Marr that he began abusing cocaine and alcohol intensely. According to him, he rarely at – all he cared about was work, alcohol and cocaine. As a result of that, he lost a significant amount of weight. But according to him, he didn’t worry because most of his heroes such as Bruce Lee and George Best were small.
- Since the formation of the Smiths in 1982, Marr and Morrissey received the lion’s share of the revenue generated from the band’s recording and performance royalties (each receiving 40% whereas Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce each received 10%). However, this changed in 1996, when Joyce sued Marr and Morrissey for an equal share of the Smiths’ revenue and won the case. Ruling in Joyce’s favor, the Judge described Morrissey as a “devious, truculent and unreliable” character and said of Marr as probably the most intelligent member of the Smiths.
- In 2010, when the the then British Prime Minister David Cameron announced publicly that he was a fan of the Smiths, Marr famously said that he forbade the Prime Minister to like the Smiths.
- Marr is a football lover, and supports Manchester City F.C., a football club that he almost played for.
- In 2012, the University of Salford honored him with an honorary doctorate for his remarkable contribution to British guitar music.
- Marr is a teetotal, vegan. According to him, he first gave up eating meat in the mid 1980s.
- Marr used to be a heavy smoker and drinker, but gave them up after being inspired by the hip hop group Naughty By Nature. Today, Marr is an avid jogger and lives a very healthy life.
- In 2016, Marr published his autobiography titled Set the Boy Free.
- Marr wrote the song My Monster, which appears on the legendary American rock band Blondie’s 2017 eleventh studio album titled Pollinator.
Notable Johnny Marr Songs
Besides his songs with the Smiths, here are some of the most popular songs from Johnny Marr’s solo career:
- The Messenger
- European Me
- New Town Velocity
- Easy Money
- Generate! Generate!
- Say Demesne
- I Want the Heartbeat
- The Right Thing Right