JOHNNY MARR LAUNCHES HIS NEW BOOK – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
On Monday night I attended a hotly anticipated event in one the of the most stunning venues in town which was the location for a book launch, launched by none other than Manchester’s very own Johnny Fuckin’Marr. The John Ryland’s Library reading room is majestic, with beautiful alcoves and architecture that must be seen to be believed. A small crowd of hardcore Marr/Smiths fans had gathered amongst the ancient texts, priceless artefacts and high ceilings to witness something very special.
You do not have to be a fan of The Smiths to know that their instantly recognisable riffs were penned by the very man sat in front of us, alongside seven of his most iconic guitars that had been played on some of the most well-known albums of the past forty years. This evening was not just a talk, it was a demonstration and a pilgrimage to these six string wonders that are the basis of Marr’s new book. Not just a book, this is a book that is intended to adorn coffee tables all over the world.
Hailing from a working-class family, Marr spoke of his fascination with people’s choice of literature, most notably the humble, or in the case of ‘Zen Gardens’ not so humble coffee table book, often a feature of the front room, a piece of art in page form, and quite often the first thing a guest to your home sees (and judges you on!) Marr is now a member of this esteemed club following the release of ‘Marr’s Guitars’ (Marr said he had to call it that – how could he not!).
This evening we were taken on a journey of musicianship that started out with a teenage Johnny Marr’s humble upbringing in Wythenshawe, and how he spent hours locked away in his bedroom perfecting the riffs of his idols, most notably Marc Bolan and later, Nile Rogers. So many esteemed musicians were mentioned during the ninety-minute chat, Si Wolstencroft, The Beatles, Free, and Neil Young, amongst others.
Guardian Journalist John Harris was this evening’s host, and what a wonderful host he was. A true fan of Marr, which came across incredibly clearly, with intelligent, concise questioning that allowed Marr to explain in detail. The interview was one of the smoothest I have ever seen, not rushed but almost like a conversation between two friends, heartfelt and honest. Marr was clearly at ease with Harris and without being sycophantic or insincere, Harris was clearly delighted to be able to talk to one of his idols at depth.
The book documents several guitars that Marr has used during his impressive career, and all hold a fascinating story from New York hotel rooms with Mike Joyce’s chicken pox, to a bizarre but apparently very successful encounter with Modest Mouse frontman in Portland Oregan which involved a jug of wine and a false moustache. Marr is a great storyteller, a dry sense of humour prevails throughout, particularly during an incident when Marr lent Noel Gallagher one of his favourite guitars, and when he set a classroom on fire as a teen trying to strip the paintwork off a guitar body…
It is easy to forget just how many different projects Marr has been involved in, and one stood out for me towards the close of the discussion. The book ends with a beautiful photo of the Hans Zimmer orchestra with Marr, a close friend of Zimmer’s helping to write the James Bond theme from the film ‘No Time to Die’ and in return, Zimmer wrote the foreword for this magnificent book.
The evening ended all too soon but what a night to remember. RGM would like to thank Thames and Hudson for inviting us down to this event, and of course John Harris for such a beautiful interview, and Johnny Marr of course for just being the epitome (Epiphone?) of cool.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO BUY THE BOOK, CHECK OUT JOHNNY MARR’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE HERE.