Andy Rourke, bassist for British alt-rock legends The Smiths, has died aged 59, his representatives and former bandmates said Friday.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a long illness with pancreatic cancer,” Notice He said on his social media pages. “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a very talented musician by music fans. We request privacy during this sad time.

In a tribute, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr said the two met as schoolboys in 1975. “We were best friends and went everywhere together,” Marr wrote on Instagram. Before the Smiths gained acclaim they played together in bands in South Manchester as teenagers, and “it was on those Smiths records that Andy rediscovered being a bass guitar player,” he recounts.

Hailing from Manchester, England, Rourke helped develop a sound as part of one of the most popular English bands of the 1980s, The Smiths, which produced hits including “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out” and “How Soon It’s Too Soon.” Now? “.

At the time, The Washington Post described it as one of the best English bands of the decade.

After the band broke up in 1987, Rourke played and recorded with artists including the Pretenders and Badly Drawn Boy. In his decades-long career, he also was created Freebass is a supergroup consisting of bass players from Stone Roses and Joy Division.

“I always got an instrument for Christmas or my birthday, so I used plastic trumpets, saxophone, keyboard,” Rourke said. In a 2016 interview. “I played a bit of cello later, but I did it because it was needed on a Smiths record, so I bought one, tuned it like a bass and went from there.”

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Fans and fellow musicians paid tribute to him early Friday morning.

Suite bassist Matt Osman said Rourke will be remembered as “a total turn – a rare bassist whose sound you can instantly recognize.”

Rourke last played on stage with Marr and his band at Madison Square Garden last year, the guitarist said, adding that it was a matter of “personal pride and sadness.” “A special moment shared with my family and his wife and soul mate, Francesca,” Marr added.

Another former bandmate, The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, described Rourke is “the sweetest, funniest guy I’ve ever met”

“Andy has left the building, but his musical legacy lives on,” he wrote.

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