Jealous Haters Since 1998!
Home | News | Reviews | Day In Rock | RockNewsWire | Singled Out | Feeds

Birthday Tribute to Johnny Marr

(Gibson) Johnny Marr turns 50 today, October 31. Indie rock doesn't birth many "guitar heroes," but Marr is certainly one. Though Marr is not really "indie," to be honest: yes, his time in The Smiths, Modest Mouse and The Cribs loom large. But he's also collaborated with Pet Shop Boys, Girls Aloud, Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, The The, Bert Jansch and many more. He's simply a very versatile guitarist.

Eyes down for an appreciation of the man Noel Gallagher calls "a wizard" of guitar. Johnny Marr's Guitar Style. There isn't just one. In the Smiths, he was known for a chiming/arpeggio-based style so much so that he eventually resented the "jingle-jangle" words that were written about him. But he's definitely more chord/riff-based than a soloist in the whole Smiths catalog there are only two or three "guitar solos."

On many Smiths recordings, Marr employed a capo at the 2nd fret to meet Morrissey's high tenor voice. And open strings have always been a big part blasted barre chords are not part of his usual style. When he does play big chords, there's usually a twist The Smiths' "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" have a capo on the fourth fret.

Alt tunings also play a part. "The Headmaster Ritual," a baffling piece of Marr guitarism inspired by Joni Mitchell, is in open D but then with a capo on the second fret. So it's Open E, really, but has more tension because of the capo making the strings "shorter." He's an adept fingerpicker. Listen to The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow acoustic version of "Back to the Old House."

Nashville tuning also turns up: 'It's a good tuning for coming up with new stuff 'cos you kind of feel like you're playing backwards," he told me. "I used that on loads of Smiths stuff "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" and "Half a Person" for starters."

The Smiths were incredibly prolific over 70 songs in a recording career of just four years, and Marr also acted as co-producer and de facto manager in later days Morrissey seemed to have trouble with third-party managers. When Marr left he was still only 23 years old.

To outsiders, "How Soon is Now?" is probably The Smiths' defining track.

"I wanted to write a track with an intro that you couldn't forget, something that you knew straight away was The Smiths," Marr says. "In that regard it was very 'worked on.' I arrived at the studio with a demo of the whole thing, apart from the tremolo effect - though that was bound to surface on a Smiths track sooner or later, because at that time I was playing Bo Diddley stuff everywhere I went. I wanted it to be really tense and swampy.

"Layering the slide part was what gave it the real tension. As soon as I played that bit on the second and third strings, [producer] John Porter put an AMS harmoniser on it. Then we recorded each individual string with the harmoniser, then we tuned the B string down a half step and harmonised the whole thing.

"The tremolo effect came from laying down a regular rhythm part - with a capo at the 2nd fret - on a Les Paul, then sending that out in to the live room to four Fender Twin amps. John was controlling the tremolo on two of them and I was controlling the other two, and whenever they went out of sync we just had to stop the track and start all over again. It took an eternity. God bless the sampler, because it would have been so much easier!" The clanging harmonics on "How Soon is Now?" are Marr hitting his guitar with a knife, as Sonic Youth did.

Post-Smiths, his funkier influences came to the fore on his some tracks with Electronic, The The and Modest Mouse. Marr is a huge fan of Nile Rodgers (he even named his son Nile), so he wasn't always about emotionally-fraught indie "the rhythm lick on "The Boy with the Thorn in his Side" is pure Nile Rodgers," he says.

His own Healers band (circa 2000) where he first sang lead vocals - were a swampier rock set-up, but still boasting a highly-melodic streak.

Marr's 2013 solo album, The Messenger, stylistically draws on his first post-punk guitar influences of U.K. bands such as Wire and Magazine. more. is an official news provider for
Copyright - Excerpted here with permission.

Johnny Marr CDs, DVDs and MP3s

Johnny Marr T-shirts and Posters

Johnny Marr CDs, vinyl and rarities

Share this article



News Reports
Day in Rock:
Metallica Learned Lesson From Expensive Failure- Motorhead Postpone Show Due to Phil Campbell's Hospitalization- Bring Me The Horizon To Play With Full Orchestra- more

Day In Pop: Adele Sells Over 3 Million Copies Of 25 Album In One Week In U.S.- Def Leppard Frontman Joe Elliott Explains Influence On Pop Stars- Coldplay Release New Video- more

David Lee Roth Band Reunion Show Shut Down- Motorhead's Phil Campbell Hospitalized- The Word Alive Frontman Telle Smith Breaks Back Stagediving- Black Sabbath- more

 Subscribe To Day in Rock


Road Trip: Cruise to the Edge 2015

Road Trip: Travel Gadgets Gift Guide

On The Record: Flexx Bronco- Spritzer

Thrust - Fist Held High

Exhumed - Gore Metal: A Necrospective

Rock Reads: Hippie Chick- A Tale of Love, Devotion and Surrender

Ancient Rites - Laguz

Ann Wilson - The Ann Wilson Thing! EP

Root 66: MonkeyJunk - Moon Turn Red

Sites and Sounds: Def Leppard and Monsters of Rock Cruises

Adakain - Never Coming Home

The Boy From The Crowd - Where The Bees Come To Die

Classics: Razor - Open Hostility

Leslie West - Soundcheck

Midwest Soul Xchange - New American Century

Root 66: The Infamous Stringdusters - Undercover


Halloween Special: The Art of Horror- Curious Case of H.P. Lovecraft- More

Noctum - Until Then... Until the End

Opium Denn - Demarkation

Blackmore's Night - All Our Yesterdays

. .
Today's Rock News
Metallica Learned Lesson From Expensive Failure

Motorhead Postpone Show Due To Phil Campbell's Hospitalization

Bring Me The Horizon To Play With Full Orchestra At Special Show

Boston's Tom Scholz Loses Case Over Late Singer Suicide Claims

Hinder Announce Postponed Dates Following Tour Bus Crash

Clutch Singer Moved By Paris Show In Wake Of Terrorist Attacks

Dropkick Murphys Announce 20 Year Anniversary Tour Dates

Panic! At The Disco Stream New Song LA Devotee

Dark Funeral Reveal New Studio Album Plans

It Bites' John Beck Breaks Arm In Accident On Fish Tour

Wolvhammer and Atriarch Announce North American Tour

The Adarna To Rock U.S. Service Members On The Project Gratitude Tour

Sikth Streaming New Song 'Behind The Doors'

Colin Edwin Announces 1st Endless Tapes Album, Releases Video

Walter Trout Give Emotional Tribute To His Wife In Award Acceptance

Baroness Release Behind The Scenes Video For Purple Album

Native Construct Release 'Mute' Video

Turbonegro Release Hot For Nietzsche Video

Ugly Kid Joe's Comeback Tour Will Determine Their Future

Fatherson Release Always Music Video

Heights' Al Heslop Releases Solar Solo Performance Video

Lamb Of God's Randy Blythe Opens Up About Addition Battles

InTheStudio Remember George Harrison With Best Of Special

Prong Reveal Details About New Album X-No Absolutes

Soilwork Release Death In General Video

While She Sleeps Add Headline and Asking Alexandria Shows To Tour

End of Love (Wilco, Big Star, Sonic Youth) Stream New Song

Bryan Ferry Announces Tour and 'Avonmore Special Edition'

Black Star Riders Release Soldierstown Lyric Video

In Mourning Recording Follow-Up To The Weight Of Oceans

The Moth Gatherer's New Album The Earth Is The Sky Streaming Online

Reckless Love and Santa Cruz Announce UK Tour

Neurosis' Scott Kelly and Yakuza's Bruce Lamont Launching Tour

Inverted Serenity Release 'Grasp of Impermanence' Live Video

Subscribe to Day in Rock Report by Email

Today's Pop News
Adele Sells Over 3 Million Copies Of 25 Album In One Week In U.S.

Def Leppard Frontman Joe Elliott Explains Influence On Pop Stars

Coldplay Release Adventure Of A Lifetime Video

Kendrick Lamar And J. Cole Release New Remixes

DJ Joe Cozzo Releases 'Road To Recovery' Video

On Dead Waves Release 'Blackbird' Video

The Posterz's Husser Releases Video For Ragers Collaboration

Holy Holy Announce Australian Tour

Asleep At The Wheel, Randy Owen Coming To Larry's Country Diner

Singled Out: Jeremiah Tall's Time

More News

anti Worthy Links
Rock On the Rise Radio Rock Show Radio (4 streaming stations) The Screen Door A Journal of Musical Things Lloyd Zeffler blog Demolish Mag Nightwatcher's House of Rock CJ Chilvers Deja Voodoo The 1st Five Hard Rock Memorabilia Day in Rock @twitter



Tell a Friend about this page - Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2015 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved. antiMusic works on a free link policy for reprinting of our original articles, click here for details. Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.