Johnny Marr, one of the most celebrated guitarists in the history of contemporary music, released his debut solo album The Messenger on February 26, 2013. The 12-song set features Marr front and center on vocals and guitar, and represents our first chance to capture Johnny Marr’s musical vision exactly as he envisioned on the first true solo album of his career.
The Messenger was written and produced by Marr himself. Based in Portland, Oregon since 2005, Marr returned to the U.K. in early 2012 to commence work on the album.
“The underlying idea of the record is my experience of living in Britain,” he Marr. “When you’re away from your home city you’re more compelled to write about it, whether that’s because you’re homesick or you’ve got more objectivity, I don’t know. Growing up in the city influences you, and as I’ve grown older I’ve continued to see beauty, energy and stories in it.”
Marr is best known for his work alongside Morrissey as the creative force behind The Smiths. In addition to four highly influential studio albums and the live set Rank, all of which peaked at #1 or #2 on the album chart, The Smiths have also released a succession of hit compilation albums.
After leaving The Smiths in 1987, Marr has continued his career as an official member or touring guitarist for a diverse array of acclaimed bands including The Pretenders, The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. Marr was a member of the Modest Mouse line-up which recorded the 2007 We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which topped the Billboard album charts, and of The Cribs when they hit the Top 10 with their 2009 album Ignore The Ignorant. He also formed Johnny Marr + The Healers who released the album Boomslang in 2003. Marr has also guested on recordings by Kirsty MacColl, Billy Bragg, the Pet Shop Boys, John Frusciante, Talking Heads and Beck.
Countless musicians have cited Marr as a defining musical inspiration, most notably Noel Gallagher. Impressed by an early Oasis demo, Marr acted as a mentor to the then unknown Gallagher by helping the band find management and even passed one of his guitars to help inspire his talented young friend. Years later – and with Oasis now established as the biggest band in the country – Marr guested on the Oasis album Heathen Chemistry.
Marr’s influence has continued to be recognized in recent years. Trinity College Dublin named him as an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society alongside past patrons such as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker. He has also earned Q’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Mojo’s Classic Songwriter Award and the Inspiration Award at the Ivor Novellos (presented, respectively, by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Bernard Butler of Suede and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos). He also shared his knowledge with future generations of the music industry when he worked as a visiting Professor of Music at Salford University and was subsequently granted with an honorary doctorate in 2012.
Recent years have seen Marr diversifying his work into other musical areas. He contributed greatly to Hans Zimmer’s Oscar nominated score to the Christopher Nolan blockbuster Inception, while his Fender Johnny Marr signature Jaguar guitar was nominated for electric guitar of the year at the 2012 MIA awards.
If the past tells us anything, it’s that Marr’s future projects will be worthy of the world’s attention.