Worth an Ear: Johnny Marr

By Maggie Serota 10/01/14

Spotlight on... Johnny Marr

There seem to be two different kinds of sober musicians. One hand, you have your Steven Tylers and your Elton Johns. They are the kind of musician who used to be defined by their partying and using before getting clean and living an outspokenly sober life. It’s not uncommon for this type of rock star to have endured the odd overdose or near death experience before engaging in a rehab stint or public battle with addiction. 

Then there’s the kind of musician like Johnny Marr, who has always been known as first and foremost, a brilliant guitar player, earning the respect of everyone from obscure indie musicians to Paul McCartney. Marr was never particularly known for being a hard partier. Sure, in some interviews he mentions a “dark time with the Smiths when there was a lot of drink,” but working with Morrissey would probably drive anyone to hit the bottle. 

However, at one point, Marr started to nonchalantly mention that he quit drinking and hadn’t had much of an interest in it since the early 2000s. It  certainly meshes with his health conscious lifestyle that includes running, veganism and quitting smoking. 

When a Daily Mail reporter asked if he quit because of a drinking problem, Marr responded “Nah I was just bored of it. It wasn’t really getting me anywhere. And I’m somebody who really likes to do different things. I see (not drinking) as a positive – it seems much more radical a lifestyle than being a regular rock ’n’ roller. That seems very boring to me. Somewhat of a cliché.”

The 50-year-old guitar virtuoso certainly likes to do different things, as evidenced by his long and storied musical resume.

He was most famously Morrissey’s songwriting partner in The Smiths

Then collaborated with New Order’s Bernard Sumner in Electronic.

Marr also joined the line-up of The The for about 6 years.

Oh yeah, then there was that 3 years where he was in Modest Mouse.

And The Cribs

Eventually, Marr put out his own solo records.

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Maggie Serota is a staff writer at Spin. She has contributed to Glamour, NBC News, Esquire, Rolling Stone,BuzzFeed, and many other publications and outlets.  You can find Maggie on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.