Who Is Morrissey?
Morrissey gained fame in the 1980s as the co-founder and frontman of the Smiths, a British rock band. With his eccentric style and acid-tongued lyrics, he became an icon for disaffected youth. After the band's breakup in 1987, Morrissey embarked on a successful solo career, while also continuing to make waves with his many controversial comments.
Stephen Patrick Morrissey, who is most commonly referred to by his last name, was born on May 22, 1959, in Manchester, England. The son of a hospital porter and a librarian, Morrissey was a moody, introspective child. He found an early love in poetry and writing, outlets that helped him cope with the occasional bouts of depression that gripped his life. Morrissey especially adored the work of Oscar Wilde.
For Morrissey, pop music provided a needed escape from his "dreary" childhood in Manchester. "Pop music was all I ever had, and it was completely entwined with the image of the pop star," he told The New York Times in 1991. "I remember feeling that the person singing was actually with me and understood me and my predicament. A lot of times I felt I was engaged with an absolute tangible love affair."
Morrissey eventually took the stage himself, playing briefly in a band called the Nosebleeds. In 1982, the struggling writer and musician teamed up with guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce to form the Smiths.
The band, whose first single was "Hand in Glove," quickly became a force on the English music scene. Over the group's four-year run, they released four studio albums, all of which charted at either No. 1 or No. 2 in the United Kingdom.
Front and center was Morrissey, a brooding, sharp-tongued leading man who wasn't afraid to publicly dismiss other pop bands. His attitude and eccentric style quickly made the singer a heartthrob for England's disaffected youth. While at times disdainful of the celebrity culture that gripped the pop scene, Morrissey embraced the connection he could make with his fans.
Following the band's 1984 self-titled debut album, the group released Meat Is Murder (1985), whose title was no doubt driven by Morrissey's own commitment to vegetarianism. One more album, The Queen is Dead (1986), followed before the band called it quits in 1987. Two other releases: Strangeways, Here We Come (1987) and a live album, Rank (1988), came out after the group's demise.
In 1988, Morrissey kicked off his solo career with the well-received album Viva Hate, which climbed to No. 48 on the U.S. charts. His solo follow-up, Kill Uncle (1991), was viewed as a disappointment. However, he hit his stride again with Vauxhall and I (1994). In the years since, Morrissey has continued to put out albums and connect with his fans on tour.
Despite an up-and-down solo career, Morrissey remains an icon in the pop music world. Unfortunately for fans of the Smiths, he has ruled out the possibility of a reunion. "I would rather eat my own testicles than re-form the Smiths," he said in 2006, "and that's saying something for a vegetarian."
Over the years, Morrissey's temper and outspokenness have continued to make headlines. In 2010, while commenting about animal cruelty in China, he said, "You can't help but feel that the Chinese people are a subspecies." His ire has also been directed at Kate Middleton, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Victoria and David Beckham.
In 2013, Morrissey released an autobiography, which was called, simply, Autobiography. The book covers his childhood, including his teenage fondness for the New York Dolls, a band of transvestites. "Jerry Nolan on the front of the Dolls debut album is the first woman I ever fell in love with," he wrote.
In his autobiography, Morrissey also revealed that he formed his first relationship at age 35, with photographer Jake Walters. The singer has always been vague about his own sexuality, and did not state whether or not the two were ever lovers. Some mentions of Walters were removed from the U.S. edition of the book.
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