Mark E Smith The Fall nous a quittés RIP

Mark E Smith

RIP Mark E. Smith of The Fall

my favorite group for a long long time

Famously fractious frontman had been suffering from ill health throughout 2017

Mark Edward Smith (5 March 1957 – 24 January 2018) was an English singer, songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer, lyricist and only constant member of the post-punk group the Fall.

Smith formed the Fall in 1976 after attending a Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in June that year.[1] The band went on to feature over 60 different members, and released 32 studio albums.[2] Smith’s lyrical style has been described as consisting of “grim, dark and ironic humour”.[3] Notoriously difficult to work with, he has been characterised as a “strange kind of antimatter national treasure”,[4][5] and an enduring cult icon.[6] In 2018, he died at the age of 60 after a long illness.


Early life[edit]

Smith with the Fall in Japan, 1990.

Smith was born into a working-class family in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England, as the oldest of four siblings-he had three sisters.[7] The family moved to nearby Prestwich when he was six months old. In his autobiography, Smith claims that Alfred Henry Hook – a soldier who fought at Rorke’s Drift – was an ancestor of his father, leading to the Smith family being invited as guests of honour to the Whitefield showing of the film Zulu in which Hook was played by James Booth.[8] He attended Stand Grammar School before leaving at 16. That year, he left home and moved in with his girlfriend, Una Baines.[7] He subsequently took an evening class in A-level Literature.[9] His first job was in a meat factory, before he became a shipping clerk on the Manchester docks.[10] Originally a Labour supporter, he then joined the Socialist Workers Party.[11] Smith’s father, Jack, died suddenly in 1989 of a heart attack.[12]

The Fall[edit]

Mark E. Smith performing in Edinburgh, 2011

Smith formed The Fall, named after the novel by Albert Camus,[13] with friends Martin Bramah, Una Baines and Tony Friel (who coined their name) after dropping out of college at the age of 19.[14] Originally they were named The Outsiders, after another Camus work. He gave up his job as a shipping clerk at Salford docks shortly afterward to devote his full energies to the band, and continued to do from then on. Smith married American guitarist and Fall band member (1983–89 and 1994–96) Brix Smith on 19 July 1983, after meeting during the band’s American tour earlier that year.[15] They divorced in 1989, and he remarried twice after this. His second wife was Saffron Prior, who used to work for the Fall’s fan club. He married Eleni Poulou, also called Elenor or Elena, in 2001. Poulou joined the band in September 2002[16] and resigned in July 2016.[17]

Musically, Smith’s influences vary from 60s British groups such as The Move and The Kinks, to American artists such as The Doors, The Seeds and Captain Beefheart and the German group Can.[18] The band built a steady cult following; he wrote in his autobiography that “You’ve got to accept that you’re never going to be on Top of the Pops every week if you’re in the Fall. That’s not what the Fall’s about.”[7]

When British DJ and Fall supporter John Peel died in 2004, Smith made a notorious appearance on the BBC‘s Newsnight show.[19]

In January 2005, Smith was the subject of The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith, a BBC Four television documentary.[7] The following August he received the “Contribution to Music” award at the Diesel-U-Music Awards.[20] Smith’s autobiography, Renegade: The Gospel According to Mark E. Smith, written with Manchester-based writer Austin Collins, was published by Viking Books in April 2008.[21]


Smith died on 24 January 2018, aged 60, after a long illness.[22] His death was confirmed on The Fall’s official website.[23]

Lyrical style[edit]

Smith’s cryptic lyrics,[24] were described by critic Simon Reynolds as “a kind of Northern English magic realism that mixed industrial grime with the unearthly and uncanny, voiced through a unique, one-note delivery somewhere between amphetamine-spiked rant and alcohol-addled yarn.”[25] In interviews, Smith cited Colin Wilson,[26] Arthur Machen, Wyndham Lewis, Thomas Hardy,[27] Philip K. Dick as influences,[28] as well as Edgar Allan Poe, Raymond Chandler,[29] and H. P. Lovecraft, whose short story “The Colour Out of Space” he read in Christmas 2007 for the BBC Collective website.[30]

Work outside the Fall[edit]

Music, writing and acting[edit]

Alongside his work with the Fall, Smith released two spoken-word solo albums, The Post-Nearly Man (1998) and Pander! Panda! Panzer! (2002). Both albums feature readings of Fall lyrics, samples of Fall songs and contributions from members of the Fall.[6]

Smith appeared as a guest vocalist for Edwyn Collins, Elastica, Gorillaz, Long Fin Killie, Mouse on Mars, Coldcut and Ghostigital. His contribution to Inspiral Carpets‘ 1994 song “I Want You” won UK top 20 recognition, topped the Festive Fifty[31] and resulted in Smith’s first appearance on the classic UK TV show Top of the Pops.[32] He worked with Mouse on Mars on the collaboration project Von Südenfed (whose first album, Tromatic Reflexxions, was released in May 2007),[14] provided guest vocals on the song “Glitter Freeze” from the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach, and joined the group Shuttleworth to record the World Cup song “England’s Heartbeat”.[33]

In 1986, he wrote the play Hey, Luciani based around the short reign of Pope John Paul I.[34] Smith was also periodically a guest contributor to publications including the NME. He appeared in an acting role in several television programmes and films. He made a cameo in the Michael Winterbottom film 24 Hour Party People (2002), while his younger self was portrayed by Sam Riley[35] in a section that was deleted from the final cut of the film, but is featured as a deleted scene on the DVD. Smith made an appearance in the BBC Three sitcom Ideal in May 2007, playing a foulmouthed, chain-smoking Jesus.[36]

A fuzzy, muted version of the song “Hip Priest” appeared in the film The Silence of the Lambs.[37]

Smith wrote the music for a Michael Clark Dance Company ballet in 1988, called I Am Curious, Orange, which debuted in Amsterdam and is about Prince William of Orange.[38]


With the Fall[edit]


D.O.S.E. featuring Mark E. Smith[edit]

  • “Plug Myself In” (1996), Coliseum – 2 CDs, 12″ vinyl[39]

INCH featuring Mark E. Smith[edit]

  • INCH EP (1999), Regal[39]

Von Südenfed[edit]

  • “Fledermaus Can’t Get It” (2007), Domino
  • “The Rhinohead/Slow Down Ronnie” (2007), Domino[41]

Mark E. Smith & Ed Blaney[edit]

  • “Real Good Time Together” (2008), Voiceprint
  • “Transfusion” (2009), Voiceprint

Other collaborations and guest appearances[edit]

The Clint Boon Experience
  • “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” single (1999), Artful – “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)”
  • What’s That Noise album (1989) – “I’m in Deep”[39]
Edwyn Collins
  • I’m Not Following You (1996), Setanta – “Seventies Night”[42]
  • Elastica EP (1999), Deceptive – “How He Wrote Elastica Man”, “KB”[43]
Dna (Greek Musical Collective)
  • The Dark Project Album (2003), Dna feat. Mark E. Smith “Misery” written by Dna (Michael Nivolianitis and Alexander Christaras)
  • Iceland Airwaves ’05 V/A album (2005), Iceland Airwaves – “Not Clean” (also released as a single)
  • Plastic Beach album (2010) – “Glitter Freeze”[39]
Inspiral Carpets
  • “I Want You” single (1994) – “I Want You”[44]
  • Keep the Circle (B sides and Udder Stuff) album (2007) – “Saturn 5”
Jon the Postman
  • Puerile album – Intro to “Louie Louie”[45]
Long Fin Killie
  • “Heads of Dead Surfers” single (1995) – “Heads of Dead Surfers”
Mouse on Mars
  • Wipe That Sound EP (2004), Sonig – “Cut the Gain”, “Sound City”[41]
  • 21 Again album (2014) – 21 Again[39]
  • “England’s Heartbeat” (2010) – Shuttleworth feat. Mark E. Smith[33]
  • “Dangerous Sex” single (1989) – “Repetition”


  1. Jump up^ Walters, Sarah. “Four Manchester bands we owe to the Sex Pistols’ Lesser Free Trade Hall gig 40 years ago“. Manchester Evening News, 3 June 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  2. Jump up^ Youngs, Ian. “Mark E Smith: British rock’s cult hero“. BBC, 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  3. Jump up^ Mark E. Smith: Dead at 60., 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  4. Jump up^ Welsh, Claire. “BBC mistakenly announces Mark E. Smith’s death instead of birthday“. BBC, 7 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2017
  5. Jump up^ Maume, Chris. “The Fall’s Mark E Smith has become a strange, antimatter national treasure“. The Independent, 5 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2017
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Huey, Steve. “Mark E Smith“. All Music. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “Mark E Smith: wonderful and frightening”. The Daily Telegraph. 26 April 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  8. Jump up^ Smith, Mark E.; Collings, Austin (2008), Renegade – The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith, Viking (Penguin), p. 12, ISBN 978-0-670-91674-0
  9. Jump up^ “Mark E Smith obituary”. The Guardian. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  10. Jump up^ “The Fall singer Mark E Smith dies aged 60”. BBC. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  11. Jump up^ Chalmers, Robert (13 November 2011). “Life lessons: Mark E Smith on bullying, the occult and why Stalin had the right idea”. The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  12. Jump up^ Simpson, Dave. “The Fall: 10 of the best“. The Guardian, 11 June 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  13. Jump up^ Reynolds 2006, p. 174.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b Aroesti, Rachel. “Mark E Smith, lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60“. The Guardian, 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  15. Jump up^ Hughes, Rob (May 2016). “Slang Queen!”. Uncut. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  16. Jump up^ Perry, Andrew (26 April 2016). “The Fall’s Mark E Smith in full, exhilarating flow – review”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  17. Jump up^ Harrison, Ian (2016). “The 40 Years War” (PDF). Mojo. 274: 66.
  18. Jump up^ “The Fall’s Mark E Smith’s Record Collector”. The Quietus. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  19. Jump up^ Mark E Smith on John Peel. BBC, 2004. Retrieved on 8 January 2007
  20. Jump up^ “Diesel-U-Music Awards Winners announced”. NME. 23 July 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  21. Jump up^ Taylor, “Renegade: The Life and Times of Mark E Smith, By Mark E Smith“. The Independent, 26 April 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  22. Jump up^ Stuart, Andrew & Bardsley, Andrew (2018) “Mark E Smith dead – tributes and reaction as The Fall singer dies aged 60“, Manchester Evening News, 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  23. Jump up^ “The Fall’s Mark E. Smith Dead at 60 | Pitchfork”. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  24. Jump up^ Huey, Steve. “Mark E. Smith – Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic”. AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  25. Jump up^ Reynolds, Simon (1996). The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674802735.
  26. Jump up^ Marvin, Joe. “Mark E. Smith interview”. Fanzine Interview. Archived from the originalon 14 July 2006. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  27. Jump up^ Smith, Mark E (2008). Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-91674-0
  28. Jump up^ Lee, Stewart (2004). “Mark E Smith, Man At His Best”. Esquire Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2007.
  29. Jump up^ David Stubbs (12 November 1988). “The Indelible Prinz”. Melody Maker. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  30. Jump up^ Storytime With Mark E Smith (2007) Retrieved on 21 December 2007.
  31. Jump up^ “I Want You” claims No. 1, played on John Peel’s 1994 Festive Fifty countdown on YouTube
  32. Jump up^ Inspirals Biography Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ Jump up to:a b Pan, Arnold. “Mark E. Smith and Shuttleworth – “England’s Heartbeat” (Unofficial World Cup Anthem)“. Popmatters, 07 June 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  34. Jump up^ Raggett, Ned. “Hey, Luciani!. All Music. Retrieved 25 January 2018
  35. Jump up^ Renshaw, David. “Mark E Smith backs Brad Pitt to play him in Fall biopic“. NME, 28 Ddecember 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  36. Jump up^ Mark E Smith Is Jesus“. Uncut, 5 January, 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2018
  37. Jump up^ Beck, Jay. Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-252-07532-2
  38. Jump up^ Mills, Ted. I Am Kurious Oranj – The Fall : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic”. AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  39. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Huey, Steve. “Mark E. Smith Songs. AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2018
  40. Jump up^ O’Neal, Sean (3 July 2007). “Von Südenfed: Tromatic Reflexxions”. The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  41. ^ Jump up to:a b c Huey, Steve. “Mark E Smith Discography“. AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2018
  42. Jump up^ Raggett, Ned. “I’m Not Following You“. AllMusic. Retrieved 25 January 2018
  43. Jump up^ Berman, Stuart (25 January 2018). “The Connection Is Made: Elastica Goes M.I.A”. Pitchfork. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  44. Jump up^ Thompson, Dave (2000) Alternative Rock, Miller Freeman, ISBN 0-87930-607-6. p.425-427
  45. Jump up^ Thompson (2003), p. 30


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