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Steven Patrick Morrissey

Popularly known as Morrissey

Steven Patrick Morrissey or more popularly known as Morrissey, was born on the 22nd of May, 1959 in Davyhulme, Lancashire. He is an English songwriter, author, and a singer by profession. Morrissey became a popular name ever since he became the frontman of the then popular rock band Smiths. The band was active between the years 1982 and 1987. After gaining immense popularity in the world of music, Morrissey started a solo career that also climbed up in the popularity chart. His music is basically characterized by his distinctive lyrics and his baritone voice. His lyrics are accompanied by recurring themes of black humor, emotional isolation, anti-establishment stances and sexual longing.

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Steven Patrick Morrissey Early Life

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Morrissey’s parents Peter and Elizabeth Morrissey were Irish Catholics who had emigrated from Dublin to Manchester a year before Morrissey was to be born. They had their daughter with them at that time. According to Morrissey himself, he was named after the American actor Steve Cochran. However, it may so happen that he was named in honor of his uncle, his father’s brother, who had died during infancy. His name was Patrick Steven Morrissey. A council home located at 17 Harper Street in the Hulme area was his earliest home. During his childhood at the council home, Morrissey was deeply affected by the Moors murders.

According to the news at that time, a number of local children were killed in the Moors murders case. This crime created a long lasting impression in the minds of Morrissey and it also inspired him to write the lyrics of the Smiths song “Suffer Little Children.” Later, he came to know about the anti-Irish sentiment in British society. It was basically against the Irish immigrants who had entered Britain. This prompted the family to move to 384 King’s Road in Stretford, which was another council home.

After he pursued an early education at St. Wilfrid’s Primary School, Morrissey failed the 11-plus exam. This made him proceed to St. Mary’s technical Modern School, which went on to give Morrissey several unpleasant experiences. Despite being an unpopular loner at school, he did excel at athletics. Morrissey was quite critical about his formal education and went on to state that the education that he has received was indeed brutal and evil. He also said that he was taught to feel ashamed without knowing the reason and have no self-esteem.

After failing to receive any formal qualification, Morrissey left school in the year 1975. He carried on with his education at Stretford Technical College. Here, he received three O-levels in sociology, English literature and General Paper. That same year Morrissey went to New Jersey in the US to meet his aunt. The next year in the month of December, Morrissey’s parents separated after their relationship started straining for several years. His father moved out of the family home.

Morrissey’s mother, who worked as a librarian, encouraged him to read books. In fact, she was the one who boosted his reading interests. He soon gaining interest in feminist literature and especially liked all the books or stories written by the Irish writer, Oscar Wilde. Morrissey also started to idolize her. He was also a big fan of Coronation Street, which was a television soap opera. It basically focused on the working-class communities in Manchester. Morrissey also sent several storylines and scripts to Granada Television, the production house of the show, without much success.

When asked about his youth, Morrissey used to say that he just kept himself busy with pop music. He also went on to say that he used to feel the person singing on stage and gradually entwined with the mere image of a pop star. The first record that he ever purchased was Marianne Faithfull’s album “Come and Stay With Me” during the year 1964. In the 1970s, Morrissey became a glam rock fan and started liking the works of popular English artists such as Roxy Music, David Bowie and T. Rex.

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Published Books and Early Bands

After leaving formal education midway, Morrissey started doing a variety of odd jobs. He worked as a clerk for the civil service and later for Inland Revenue. He also used to work as a salesman in a record store and a hospital porter. With time, he dropped the idea of employment and started claiming unemployment benefits. Most of his earnings went into buying tickets for gigs and attending performances of various artists such as the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads. He also used to attend concerts regularly with his special interests being in the post punk and alternative music scene.

After meeting Billy Duffy, a guitarist, in the month of November 1977, Morrissey finally agreed to become the vocalist for Billy’s punk band known as Nosebleeds. Morrissey also went on to co-write some songs for the band. Some of these songs included I Get Nervous, I Think I’m Ready for the Electric Chair, and peppermint Heaven. He also performed with the punk band in support slots for Jilted John, who was known as Magazine at that time. However, soon the band disbanded.

Morrissey actually wanted to become a professional writer. This made him pursue a career in music journalism. He also used to write letters to the music press rather frequently and finally got hired by Record Mirror, which was a weekly music review publication. For the local publishing company, Babylon Books, Morrissey wrote a number of short books. The publishing company released a 24-page booklet in 1981 that Morrissey had written on New York Dolls. It sold almost 3000 copies. This booklet was followed by James Dean is Not Dead, which was all about the late American film star James Dean. Morrissey was practically crazy for Dean and had covered his bedroom walls with the late actor’s photographs.

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The Smiths

In the month of August 1978, Morrissey got introduced to Johnny Marr, who was a 14-year old at that time, by mutual acquaintances. The introduction happened at a Patti Smith gig that was held at the Apollo Theater in Manchester. Almost 4-years after this brief introduction, one bright day Marr suddenly turned up at Morrissey’s doorstep asking if he was interested in co-founding a music band. The book written by Morrissey on the New York Dolls had really impressed Marr that inspired him to turn up at his doorstep, more or less following the example of Jerry Leiber. Jerry had also started his working partnership with Mike Stoller after suddenly turning up at the doorstep of Mike.

Morrissey used to say that both Marr and he got on rather well from the first instance. The following day, Morrissey called Marr to tell him that he would be willing to form a band with him. The first bassist of the band, Steve Pomfret abandoned the band and was replaced by Dale Hibbert. While the band was being formed, Morrissey decided that he would like to be known just by his surname. Marr always used to refer to him as Mozzer or Moz. Morrissey soon started despising his name Steven and also forbade all around him from calling him by that name. Morrissey was given the responsibility of giving the band a name. He chose the name The Smiths, which was a rather ordinary name, since he wanted all the ordinary people of the world to reveal themselves.

Apart from developing the band’s own songs, Morrissey also developed the cover of the song I Want a Boy for My Birthday by Cookies. In the month of August 1982, The Smiths recorded their first demo song at Decibel Studios in Manchester. Morrissey also took the recording of the band to Factory Records, where it was rejected. During the summer of the same year, Mike Joyce was chosen the drummer for the band after a successful audition. The Smiths gave its first public performance in the month of October 1982 as a support act for Blue Rondo a la Turk at The Ritz Manchester.

The record company EMI had turned down The Smiths. However, this did not break the confidence of Morrissey and Marr. They soon visited London to give a recording cassette of their work to Geoff Travis of the independent record label Rough Trade Records. Although Geoff did not sign them to a contract right away, he did agree to cut their song Hand in Glove as a single. For the cover, Morrissey chose a homoerotic design that was in the form of a Jim French photograph. The album was released in the month of May 1983. Although it was championed by DJ John Reel along with all the future singles, it failed to chart.

Controversy soon started surrounding the band when Gerry Bushell from “The Sun”, which was a tabloid, alleged that their B-side “Handsome Devil” was basically an endorsement of pedophilia. The band naturally denied this and Morrissey also went on to state that the song had no connection with children and definitely nothing to do with child molesting.

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The Growing Success of The Smiths

In the year 1984, The Smiths released two non-album singles, William, It was Really Nothing and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. That same year they compiled an album Hatful of Hollow, which contained all the singles, B-sides, as well as the versions of all the songs that had been recorded throughout the previous year for the Peel and Jensen shows. The following year, The Smiths released Meat is Murder, which was their second album. It was also their single studio album on top of the UK charts. Their single-only release, Shakespeare’s Sister, reached the 26th spot on the UK singles charts. However, the only single that was taken from the album, That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, was not that successful, it barely made it to the top 50 chart.

During the year 1985, The Smiths started to take lengthy tours to the US and the UK while making the forthcoming studio record, The Queen is Dead. Shortly after the single, Bigmouth Strikes Again, was released, their album The Queen is Dead got released in the month of June 1986. It got extremely popular and soon made it to the second spot in the UK charts. Unlike popular beliefs, nothing was good within the band itself. There was a legal dispute with Rough Trade that had delayed the making of the album by almost 7 months. Marr was also feeling the tiredness that was spreading amongst the band members due to the hectic recording schedule and long tours. During the early half of the year 1986, Rourke got fired from the band due to use of heroin. Craig Gannon replaced Rourke as the band’s bass guitarist on a temporary basis. However, he got reinstated within a fortnight. Nonetheless, they retained Gannon as a rhythm guitarist.

The early part of the next year their single album, Shoplifters of the World Unite, got released and managed to make it to the 12th spot on the UK Singles Charts. This was followed by a second compilation album, The World Won’t Listen that got more popular and reached the second spot in the UK charts. The band’s second single, Sheila Take a Bow, made it to the UK top-10 list. However, this single was the last one during the lifetime of the band. Although the band tasted success at almost every step, the continued differences within the band saw them on the verge of a breakup. Morrissey and Marr had a strained relationship during this time. Marr finally left the band in the month of July 1987. They tried to find a replacement and conducted several auditions. However all of their efforts proved fruitless.

When the fourth album of the band, Strangeways, Here we Come, got released, the band had already broken up. The breakdown in the band was mainly due to the annoyance of Morrissey with the work done by Marr. His annoyance was also with other artists. On the other hand, Marr had also started to feel frustrated with the musical inflexibility of Morrissey. According to Morrissey, the breakup of the band was mainly due to a lack of a proper managerial figure. Their last album, Strangeways, did reach the 2nd spot in the UK charts, but was not that popular in the US.

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Personal Life

Steven Patrick Morrissey

Morrissey preferred to have an intensely private personal life throughout his career. Although he is a longtime Los Angeles resident, he also has homes in the UK, Switzerland, and Italy. In the year 2017, Los Angeles declared the 10th of November as Morrissey Day. All of his friends call him Morrissey and he does not like the nickname Moz. He was reported saying that Moz sounds as if it is something that you squirt on the kitchen floor.

Stringer had characterized Morrissey as someone with multiple contradictory traits. He is an ordinary working-class person who prefers to hog the spotlight. He is also a nice man who says some of the nastiest things about others. Stringer also went on to say that a part of the appeal of Morrissey was the image of a cultivated English gentleman. During the year 1980, an interviewer Paul Morley had stated that Morrissey sets out as a decent man and also succeeds at it since he is actually decent.

Morrissey is also a vocal advocate of animal welfare and animal rights issues. In fact, he has been a vegetarian since he was 11 years old. Morrissey has also explained his vegetarianism by stating that if you love animals, it certainly does not make any sense to harm them. In the year 2015, Morrissey declared that he is a vegan and also spoke about the various difficulties one has to face during the transitioning period from being a vegetarian to a vegan. Morrissey is also a supporter of PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After recognizing his support, PETA also honored him with the Linda McCartney Memorial Award during their 25th Anniversary Gala on the 10th of September, 2005. Morrissey had also appeared on a PETA advert in the year 2012. He encouraged the people to have cats and dogs neutered to lower down the number of homeless pets.

In the month of January, 2006 Morrissey attracted criticism after he made a statement saying that he accepted the motives behind the militant tactics of the Animal Rights Militia. Morrissey has also criticized all the people who are involved in the promotion of having meat as food. This included Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jamie Oliver. The former had also been targeted in the past by some animal rights activists for her stand on fox hunting. In the year 2006, Morrissey refused to include Canada in his world tour for the year. He also supported the idea of boycotting Canadian goods in protest against the country’s seal hunt even though that happened every year. He also described this event as barbaric and cruel slaughter. In the year 2018, he finally decided to change his approach after realizing that his previous stance was of no use and really helped nobody.

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The sexuality of Morrissey has been a major topic of speculation and coverage in the British press during his entire career. There have been claims that he was a bisexual and a frustrated heterosexual. Morrissey had described himself and his girlfriend as being bisexual in a 1980 letter. However, he also stated that he hates sex. During his years as a member of The Smiths, Morrissey professed to be a celibate that stood out at such a time when pop music was normally dominated by visible sexuality. In an interview in 1984, Marr had said that Morrissey does not participate in sex at the moment and has also not done so for a long time. Morrissey himself was asked repeatedly by interviewers if he was gay to which he denied all the time.

As Morrissey’s career started to develop, he faced increased pressure to come out of the closet. Although he presented himself as a bisexual who does not practice the act, he was still pressurized the same way. In an interview in 1989, Morrissey had stated that he was always attracted towards men and women, especially those who are never attracted towards him. This is why he never had any relationships with anybody. Again, in the year 2013, he stated that he was not a homosexual and was a humasexual.

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In an academic paper on the Smiths, the band was characterized by Julian Stringer as one of British’s most overtly political groups. On the other hand, Andrew Warns had termed the band as the most anti-capitalist band. Morrissey had shown lasting anti-royalist views from his teen days. He was also fiercely criticized by the British monarchy. In an interview with Simon Garfield in the year 1985, Morrissey had stated that he always despised royalty and he also went on to say that royalist sentiment is a false devotion. He also publicly identified as a republican in a 2011 interview. Morrissey stated that he regarded the British royal family as benefit scroungers and nothing else.

Morrissey’s first solo album by the name of Viva Hate had a song that was named as Margaret on the Guillotine. It was basically a jab at Margaret Thatcher. In the year 2013 when Margaret Thatcher passed away, Morrissey commented on her saying that a terror without an atom of humanity. He also went on to say that every move made by Thatcher was charged by negativity. He also made similar comments about future Prime Ministers of Britain, such as John Major and Tony Blair. Morrissey was interviewed by the FBI in the month of February, 2006 due to his comments against the British and American governments. He said that they were merely trying to determine whether he was any threat to the government.

Morrissey has won and has been nominated for several awards. Some of these include Brit Awards in the Best British Male category and Grammy Awards in the Best Alternative Music Album category.

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