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Stars pay tribute after death of an enduring icon of post-punk; Sherna Noah, Thomas Hornall and David Owens look at the legendary life and career of The Fall singer Mark E Smith...

MARK E Smith has been hailed as "an artist" and "one of a kind" following The Fall singer's death at the age of 60.

The singer-songwriter, who was known for his spiky, snarling performances and uncompromising sound as the frontman of the Manchester post-punk group, died on Wednesday morning.

Comedian Vic Reeves wrote: "My good friend and my hero. You'll be so terribly missed by me and millions others. Your words meant more to me than anyone."

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh wrote: "Mark E Smith was a complex, driven man. I greatly admired him as an artist and - both despite and because of his eccentricities - really liked him as a person. Riot in Righteousness, Mark mate."

Broadcaster Danny Baker wrote: "Like Bowie, Mark E Smith's death is being mourned by all ages. I think of him as the gunpowder of the late '70s. Others claim him in the '80s. Yet more for the '90s, and then there's those who caught up with him in this century. That tells you everything."

Mark Bowen, from Cardiff, former Creation Records A&R, tweeted how The Fall were a big influence on Super Furry Animals and Welsh-language bands.

He wrote: "When @geoffmtag [Geoff Meall, the booking agent] convinced The Mighty Fall to open for @superfurry at Coopers Field [Cardiff] I don't think I ever saw a happier more excited band in my life. Their impact on a generation of Welsh language bands who didn't want to be Ceffyl Pren can never be overstated. No MES no Cool Cymru."

Artists Bob and Roberta Smith wrote: "Mark E Smith was an artist. Probably more important than any Turner Prize-winner in the time he was around."

Comedian Frank Skinner paid tribute to his hero: "I have stood in many dark clubs watching Mark E Smith prowling the stage amidst a swirl of mic leads and gaffer tape, interfering with speaker knobs, prodding discordantly at keyboards, proclaiming his dark lyrics like a man shouting from a prison window. They were the most exciting music gigs I ever saw or will ever see.

"Mark went his own way, regardless of fashion or financial rewards. He produced the most original, thought-provoking, spine-tingling music I've ever heard," the TV and radio presenter said.

"When I finally got to interview him, he turned up an hour late and greeted me with, 'Hello, Stewart'. I loved him. He was quite simply better than all the rest. I thought he'd live forever. He seemed too belligerent to die. But he has and, oh, the difference to me."

Jonathan Ross wrote: "One of a kind. Sad he's gone."

Smith's former wife and ex-band member Brix Smith Start posted: "I'm taking the news in right now. I will put a statement out tomorrow. I hope you will all understand. Thank you for your lovely messages, they mean a lot. I love you, Brix".

American rock band Garbage wrote: "Mark E Smith We will never forget you coming to see us play. Especially when you said watching us play was like watching paint dry. RIP" Meanwhile, singer Tim Burgess wrote: "So so sad to hear that we've lost Mark E Smith. A true uncompromising musical maverick. A genius, a curmudgeon and someone whose company it was an honour to share. So long M.E.S x x x" Broadcaster Lauren Laverne added: "Oh man. Mark E Smith. One of my biggest heroes. Had a nightmare interviewing him (of course) but then he put me in a song. So sharp, clever and untouchably cool. Thanks for the music, MES."

Writer and producer Edgar Wright said: "Alas, the great Mark E Smith has passed away. Not merely a legend of indie music, but someone who, for me, was a gateway into that very genre. Will be blasting the A Sides album all week now.

"The Fall are no more, long live the Fall!" Primal Scream bassist Simone Marie said: "'If you're gonna play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly' Thanku for the music Mark E. Smith . X" During his career, The Fall singer had cited dozens of writers and poets as influential, including Thomas Hardy, Philip K Dick, Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft.

MARK E SMITH - THE RANTING REBEL OF ROCK MARK E Smith, the "hip priest" and founding member of The Fall, was the band's driving force, a ranting rebellious boss who embraced chaos and often felt the desire to poke his tongue out - most notably when discussing the death of John Peel live on Newsnight in 2004.

The Fall were not a band but a cult, it was often said. Except most cults don't want you to leave, but with Smith, you often did. For four decades he hired and fired dozens of musicians at will.

Inspired more by literary giants than musicians, he was an extraordinary lyricist with an aggressive bite. Born into a working-class family in Broughton, Salford, on March 5 1957, Smith grew up in Prestwich. He first found work in a meat factory and then as a shipping clerk on the Manchester docks where he would write music in his lunch breaks.

In 1976 he quit the docks for The Fall after attending a Sex Pistols gig. He launched the band with friends Martin Bramah, Tony Friel and Una Baines, who missed their first gig as she could not afford a keyboard. Their first two albums, Live At The Witch Trials and Dragnet, arrived in 1979. The former came as a whirlwind punk record while the latter lost the aggression of Bramah's guitar as he became an early member of'The Fallen club' (although he returned in 1989). It was an important reshuffle as former bassist Marc Riley's foreboding sound became a constant element.

Often referred to as prolific, the band unveiled their 31st studio album in 2017. That year also brought Smith's 60th birthday - a day that made headlines after the musician's death was accidentally reported. Smith later said of the error: "I was ill around that time but was starting to feel better and somebody comes in and says, 'By the way, you're dead'."

Married three times, he first tied the knot in July 1983 with Brix Smith, who became a band member. After their divorce he was briefly married to Safron Pryor, who had run the band's fan club, during the '90s, before meeting Elena Poulou in Berlin in December 2000. She joined The Fall as keyboardist in 2002. His partner at the time of his death was Pam Vander, the band's manager.


The Fall, led by Mark E Smith, perform at Manchester Cathedral in 2014
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 26, 2018
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