PREVIEW: Johnny Marr @ Institute, Sat Mar 16th

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Born under a bad sign (well, on Halloween) Johnny Marr has been heralded as one of the UK’s most influential contemporary guitar players.

Predominately remembered as co-songwriter and guitarist for The Smiths, Johnny Marr has played in several bands; including The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs.

Now operating as a solo artist, as of 2011, Johnny Marr released his independent debut album – ‘The Messenger’, in Feb 2012. A subsequent 16 date UK tour brings Marr to the Institute in Birmingham, on Sat March 16th.

Cited as an inspiration for many artists prolific in their own right, including Oasis and The Stones Roses, Marr’s signature Rickenbacker 330 and Fender Telecaster guitars created for him a six string thumbprint; an identifiable sound ‘early critics’ described as ‘jangling’.

Marr’s own biography cites ‘Van Gogh’s Starry Night in angry animation, or the echo of diamonds raining down upon zinc-plated cobblestones’ as well as ‘the sound of kitchen cutlery bouncing off a gaffer-taped Telecaster’ – a method actually employed whilst recording ‘This Charming Man’

Growing up in Manchester, Marr had early aspirations to play professional football; being approached by Nottingham Forest and having trails for Man City.

However music became his ultimate calling, with Marr forming his first band, The Paris Valentinos, in 1977. Other band members were Andy Rouke, who would later play bass in The Smiths, and the actor Kevin Kennedy (nee Williams).

Five years later and the 18 year old Marr formed The Smiths, after ‘seeking out the reclusive and elusive Stretford poet, Morrissey’. Five years later still, and The Smiths would disband; but not before releasing four albums on Rough Trade – none of which entered the UK charts below No2, although ‘Meat is Murder’ being the band’s only No1.

Despite their comparatively brief time together, The Smiths hold a prominent legacy in contemporary music; with their acrimonious court case over percentages an unfortunate epitaph.

Fans of The Smiths have long called for a reunion, but despite several rumours and Marr telling the NME “I’ll do it if the coalition steps down”, industry pundits remain skeptical.

Marr’s manager, Joe Moss, also told the NME, “It isn’t happening. We are fully focused on preparing Johnny’s new album for release and booking shows for 2013.” 

Johnny Marr performs at the Institute in Birmingham on Sat March 16th. For tickets and details on this, and other gigs at the Institute, visit

For more on Johnny Marr, including digital downloads of ‘The Messenger’, visit