Biographic by Steve McGarry for February 10, 2013
Biographic Steve McGarry Johnny Marr Born John Martin Maher in Manchester, England, on October 31, 1963, Johnny Marr turned his back on a potential professional soccer career with Manchester City to concentrate on his guitar playing and pursue a career in music. He teamed up with singer Morrissey in 1982 to form The Smiths, recruiting Mike Joyce on drums and Andy Rourke on bass. The band quickly built a fanbase and their debut album, released on U.K. Indie label Rough Trade, his the No.2 spot on the British charts in 1983. By 1987, they were one of the biggest bands in Britain and making inroads in the U.S., but a series of legal disputes and internal tensions saw Marr quit, effectively killing of The Smiths. Marr re-emerged alongside New Order's Bernard Sumner in Electonic, was briefly and official member of The Pretenders, and then went on to work with everyone from Bryan Ferry to Beck, and from Talking Heads to Oasis. He recruited Ringo Starr's son, drummer Zak Starkey, and formed Johnny Marr & The Healers in 2000, before joining Modest Mouse in 2006, with whom he enjoyed his first U.S. chart-topping album. By 2008, Marr was playing guitar with British indie outfit The Cribs, staying with the group until 2011. 30 years since The Smiths burst onto the indie music scene, the group is still hailed as a major influence by the likes of Radiohead, and Marr is revered among guitar players. He was even voted one of the top five guitarists of recent years in a 2010 BBC poll. Now, with this month's release of his new album, "The Messenger," the legendary sideman - who gained an honorary doctorate in 2012 from Britain's University of Salford for his contribution to popular music - finally steps into the spotlight in his own right.