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9 influences of The Smiths, Morrissey & Johnny Marr

The Smiths had a career as short as it was influential in indie rock history. We review his impact and legacy here:

the smiths morrissey johnny marr influencias

The Smiths Influences

Dusty Springfield: Many of Morrissey’s stylistic references are female singers like Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield. Furthermore, Moz began singing Dusty´s songs at the age of six, which is why his aunt encouraged him to become a pop singer.

The Who: According to Johnny Marr, Pete Townshend is the best guitarist of the sixties by far. The Who was characterized by being a great sounding band, powerful especially live. But in addition to powerful riffs, Townshend was able to make more subtle arrangements and compose melodies with a clear pop cut, which have served as a template for the characteristic sound of Marr’s guitar.

R.E.M.: As detailed in R.E.M.’s influence chart, Johnny Marr explained that The Smiths were looking at what Michael Stipe’s band and company were doing. It is enough to listen especially to the first albums of R.E.M., such as their debut Murmur (1983), Lifes Reach Pageant (1986) or Document (1987) to distinguish them as one of the popular bands of alternative and indie rock, along with The Smiths.

Roxy Music: Although he now regrets it, Morrissey for many years admired Bryan Ferry. Whether Moz likes it or not, the influence on his singing is evident, with reference to Roxy Music tracks like the classic More than This, Take a Chance with Me or Pyjamarama. On the contrary, Marr does not deny his eagerness for the work of Bryan Ferry and has even collaborated with him.

David Bowie: According to Jonny Marr, David Bowie is the UK’s most influential artist. It is true that the glam rock era of El Duque Blanco sneaked into the compositions of The Smiths. Marr explained that Hand in Glove is inspired by Bowie‘s classic Rebel Rebel. Morrissey’s admiration for Bowie goes even beyond the musical, as he recalls how his live performances stood out in a “macho environment”. Although they were friends, in recent years the relationship between them has diminished. But hey, Morrissey fights with half the world …

Other influences on The Smiths that we can name are The Jam, The Kinks, Television and T. Rex.

Four artists influenced by The Smiths

Suede: In truth, we are talking about all Britpop. For example, the creators of the album The Queen is Dead are listed on the Oasis influence chart. But this time we will talk about the band led by Brett Anderson, who explained that the compositional dynamics of the Smiths became their model. Specifically, Anderson elaborated the vocal melody on the ideas of guitarist Bernard Butler. After his departure, the grating and catchy melodies proposed by newcomers Richard Oakes and Neil Codling made the influence even more apparent.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: According to guitarist John Frusciante, the sound of Johnny Marr was instrumental in formulating the album By The Way (2002). The initial sound of the Peppers, which was heavier and more hardcore funk rock in the eighties and nineties, evolved to a lighter sonic aesthetic since Californication (1999). It was especially Frusciante who brought to the table more melodic songs that drew, among other influences, on The Smiths.

The Killers: We have also mentioned The Smiths in the influence diagram of The Killers. From the vocal melodies to the guitar arrangements, the influence of Morrissey’s band, Marr and company is notorious over the Las Vegas band.

The Cranberries: The Irish group led by Dolores O’Riordan had a great inspirational share from Morrissey & Co, we could say in all its musical aspects: guitars, bass, drums and voice. Guitarist Noel Hogan mentions them within his mindset when starting the band and all four members of the Cranberries have openly shared their admiration for The Smiths and The Cure. Also the references to politico-social problems is a common point in both bands. It is worth mentioning that Dolores and The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke formed the band D.A.R.K.

The following bands could (and should) be included in this diagram: Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys.

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