Despite tensions caused by a royalties battle that for a period split the former members of The Smiths into two warring camps, the band’s singer, Morrissey, penned a predictably lyrical, poetic tribute to the band’s late bassist, Andy Rourke. In a message posted on his official site on Friday (May 19) entitled “Beam of Light,” the legendarily misanthropic singer praised Rourke while pointedly bypassing what he called the “usual blandishments.”
In the wake of Royce’s death at 59 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, Morrissey said, “Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments… as if their death is there to be used. I’m not prepared to do this with Andy.”
Morrissey, never one to dwell on sappy sentiment or empty words, said he hoped that “wherever Andy has gone… that he’s OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard. He didn’t ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity — never any manufactured moves.”
The note ended with a final olive branch couched in loving words. “I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that.”
The latter was especially poignant given the nasty 1989 royalties dispute that pitted Morrissey and Marr against Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, during which Morrissey said of the latter two that they were “lucky… if they’d had another singer they’d never have got further than Salford shopping centre.”
Despite the acrimony — Rourke confirmed in an 2017 interview that Morrissey fired him from the Smiths by leaving a postcard on his car — Rourke toured with Morrissey on the singer’s solo outing following the band’s 1987 split and played bass on a number of Moz’s songs, including “Interesting Drug,” “The Last of the Famous International Playboys,” “November Spawned a Monster” and “Picadilly Palare,” as well as composing the music for a handful of others.