The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Obituary: Mark E. Smith

Contributor, Hana Kelly reflects upon the highlights of Mark E. Smiths’ life and achievements


Mark E Smith was the stuff of legend. His infamous band, The Fall, had over 60 members in its time, with him as the only constant: a front man who wouldn’t give up, admitting once “if it’s me and your granny on the bongos — it’s The Fall.” They released over 30 albums and spent the 70’s and 80’s in and out of the pop charts.

The Fall was well known for having an ever evolving sound, which changed with the stream of ever changing band members. This is what allowed the band to continue up until the premature and tragic demise of Mark E Smith.

A true Post-Punk band, Mark E Smith’s Mancunian drawl and cryptic lyrics can be heard through the powerful guitars, an underlying rockabilly riff mixed with an abrasive punk sound.  His tense music lives on to teach anyone who will listen about reputation, life and drugs.

Mark E Smith is a true legend of musical history, influencing bands including The Arctic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem and Sonic Youth. Since his death on Tuesday 23rd January, artists including Billy Bragg have been paying tribute to him calling him a “cultural icon”.  Another tribute, came from Smith’s former Fall band mate Marc Riley, who was dj-ing on BBC Radio 6 when the news broke. He recalled to his listeners live how Smith had “taught me a lot about life and he taught me a lot about music”.

Mark E Smith died aged 60 after suffering from respiratory problems for the past year. His declining health meant that shows in America had to be cancelled and for his last shows in England, he sang in a wheelchair.

He was the personification of what people expected from punk music, single handedly releasing more albums than there have been punk bands. He was erratic, sporadic, and enigmatic: his reputation became iconic but Smith never gave up on the music and had an admirable and fierce passion for his art.

  • CountJoseph

    RIP MES from a fan in Canada. God Bless.

  • steve titley

    He’d likely hate all the attention, as he was all about moving forward, not looking back. Great artists do that, they don’t believe their own publicity, good or bad and so give you THEIR vision, not more of what you liked last time. Salford has a Lowry Centre and it should have a Mark E Smith / Fall centre. A working class genius. The Fall stand above even The Beatles in terms of quality and breadth of work. RIP MES, thanks for the music, the excitement and the laughs. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to be alive in the time of The Fall.

  • John Place

    A great artist, the anti-pop icon. He was the best worst singer of all time.
    “Paranoid man in mid thirties at the height of paranoia
    At the zenith of his powers
    By bed, replica shooter, zenith dissolving
    By his bed replica shooter
    Paranoid man in his early thirties
    In the zenith of his powers
    When girls pass, puts head down in the street
    His neighbors now are listening to this
    Shakes in the chemist’s while buying his vits
    Puts his head down when girls pass
    Puts his head down when girls pass in the street
    Shakes in the chemist’s
    Paranoid man in his late thirties
    Thirty-two, forty-five
    Reaches its summit
    Male, mid thirties, white, paranoia
    Goes down to the dance
    Goes down to the dance
    Going down fast
    Goes down to the dance
    Going down fast
    Goes down to the dance
    Going down fast
    Goes down to the dance
    Going down fast
    No heebies,…”

  • John Place

    When is his send off?