Books — August 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

New biography ‘A Light That Never Goes Out’ promises ‘complete story’ of The Smiths

A new 700-page biography of The Smiths by music writer and biographer Tony Fletcher will be published in the U.K. next week — but not in the U.S. until December — and promises, through “extensive research, dozens of interviews and unprecedented access,” to tell “the complete story” of the iconic Manchester band.

With “A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths” — which is scheduled to be released by Random House in the U.K. on Sept. 6 and in the U.S. on Dec. 4 — Fletcher sets out to supplant Johnny Rogan’s landmark 1992 biography “Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance” as the definitive work on The Smiths.

In the new book’s introduction, Fletcher — who previously has written books about R.E.M., Echo & The Bunnymen and The Who’s Keith Moon — notes that Rogan’s biography, while impressive, is now 20 years old, and, at the time it was written, “the dust had yet to settle from the Smiths’ breakup to provide any kind of clear picture as to their long-term reputation. Two decades’ passing of time hopefully affords me that perspective.” (Note: An updated edition of “Severed Alliance” was published in June in the U.K. and is due out in the U.S. this October.)

In addition to scores of contemporary sources, including Craig Gannon, Stephen Street and John Porter, Fletcher was able to repeatedly interview Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke for the book Morrissey and Mike Joyce both declined to participate, according to the author.


Below, you can read the publisher’s synopsis of the book:

They were, their fans believe, the best band in the world. Critics and sales figures told a similar story: six albums between 1984 and 1988 made number one or number two in the UK charts. Twenty-five years after their break-up, the band remain as adored and discussed as ever. To this day, there is a collective understanding that The Smiths were one of the greatest of all British rock groups.

The Smiths – Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce – were four working-class youths who came together, by fate or chance, in Manchester in the early 1980s. Their sound was both traditional and radically different, a music that spoke to a generation, and defied the dark socio-economic mood of the Thatcher years. By early 1984, barely a year after their first headlining gig, they were the hottest – certainly the hippest – name in modern music. In the years that followed the group produced an extraordinary body of work: seventeen classic singles, four studio albums, and some seventy songs composed by the team of Morrissey and Marr. Yet for all their brilliance and adoration – their famously energetic live shows routinely interrupted by stage invasions – The Smiths were continually plagued by their reticence to play the game, and by the time of 1987’s Strangeways Here We Come, they had split. The Smiths have never played together again – their enormous contribution to pop culture forever condensed into a prolific and prosperous halcyon period, their legacy intact and untarnished.

Thirty years after their formation, twenty-five since they broke up, The Smiths’ firmament remains as bright as ever. It’s time their tale was told. Tony Fletcher’s A Light That Never Goes Out is a meticulous and evocative group biography – part celebration, part paean – moving from Manchester in the nineteenth-century to the present day to tell the complete story of The Smiths. Penned by a contemporary and life-long fan, and the product of extensive research, dozens of interviews, and unprecedented access, it will serve to confirm The Smiths as one of the most important and influential rock groups of all time.






  1. Oh hells yes…
    It’s obvious why Morrissey is keeping mum, but Mike Joyce?

  2. All I need to know is that they will never reunite. Shame, really.

  3. While I would love a Smiths reunion, I’m very happy with the memories I have from those wonderfully awkward years. With all these post-punk and new wave reunions from the past few years The Smiths are smart to just let their past accomplishments speak for them and not ride a wave of nostalgia. They’ve said what they needed to say and are smart to let it be.

  4. Once upon a time three great musicians met a complete and utter tit who stayed in his room all day and wrote poetry, there was no one else around so they invited him to sing, the rest is history….thankfully.

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