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SMITHS STAR DEAD: Andy Rourke, bassist to The Smiths, DEAD at 59

THE SMITHS bassist Andy Rourke has died at the age of 59, following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

His former bandmate Johnny Marr confirmed the sad news and hailed his late friend a “supremely gifted musician”.

In a Twitter statement, he wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.

“Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.

“We request privacy at this sad time.”

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Johnny formed the ‘This Charming Man’ group with frontman Morrissey in 1982, and Andy joined after their first concert.

Andy’s signature style was at the beating heart of the legendary Manchester band’s melodic back catalogue that has gone on to inspire the likes of The Killers and The 1975.

Andy battled a heroin addiction that saw him dumped by his bandmates for just two weeks in 1986.

He returned in time for the release of their seminal LP ‘ The Queen Is Dead’.

Johnny hailed Andy’s parts on the landmark record as “something no other bass player could match”.

They’d go on to release the LP ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ in 1987 to huge acclaim, but split not long after.

As well as The Smiths, Andy performed with Sinead O’Connor and Ian Brown of The Stone Roses.

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The Smiths – also comprised of drummer Mike Joyce – broke up in acrimonious circumstances, and despite being offered massive money to reunite for concerts, they’ve never come close to getting back together.

Johnny, 59, previously revealed: “I think we were offered $50 million for three … possibly five shows.”

The band members infamously got into a feud in 1989 when Andy and Mike successfully sued Morrissey and Johnny to get more than 10 per cent of the group’s royalties.

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