The supple, ringing guitars of Johnny Marr helped establish the Smiths among the most acclaimed and enduring bands of the 1980s. Born John Maher in Manchester, England, on October 31, 1963, he played in such little-known groups as Sister Ray and Freaky Party before forming the Smiths with singer Morrissey in 1982. In the years to follow they emerged among Britain's most successful acts, but in 1987, following sessions for the LP Strangeways, Here We Come, Marr dissolved the group, claiming their musical approach had gone stale.
In the wake of the Smiths' demise, he made cameo appearances on records by the likes of Talking Heads and Kirsty MacColl before joining Matt Johnson's The The for 1989's Mind Bomb. Marr also teamed with New Order's Bernard Sumner and Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant in the alternative supergroup Electronic, scoring a hit with the single "Getting Away With It." Apart from a handful of guest appearances, he kept a relatively low profile during the 1990s, most notably lending his talents to The The's 1993 effort Dusk and Electronic's long-awaited sophomore record, 1996's Raise the Pressure.
Marr returned to music three years later on Electronic's third album, Twisted Tenderness, which wasn't released in the U.S. until fall 2000. He also spent time working with his new band, the Healers, playing dates across England. The next few years saw a time of redefinition and reflection for Marr. He finally assembled his Healers with ex-Kula Shaker bass man Alonza Bevan and Ringo Starr's drumming son, Zak Starkey, in 2002; a deal with ARTISTdirect's iMusic followed before the end of the year. Fans of this legendary guitarist were treated to Marr's proper singing debut in early 2003 with the release of Boomslang. In 2007 Marr appeared on the Washington band Modest Mouse's album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and toured with them as a member. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
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