Steven Patrick Morrissey, popularly known as just Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter, and author. He gained international prominence as the frontman of the English rock band ‘The Smiths’, one of the most popular bands of the UK in the 1980s. He also had a successful solo career and made it to the top ten on the UK Singles chart on ten different occasions. He also reached the no.1 spot on the UK Albums charts three times. Known for his eccentric style and acid-tongued lyrics, he became an icon among the disillusioned youths. He abstained from drugs and embraced celibacy, which differentiated him from the other entertainers of his era. Four of the albums of his band have appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. Over the course of his career, Morrissey has earned acclaim as one of the greatest lyricists in British history. He was also voted as the second greatest British cultural icon next to David Attenborough. Besides music, he is known for being a strong advocate for vegetarianism and animal rights. PETA honored him with the Linda McCartney Memorial Award on their 25th anniversary.
Childhood & Early Life
Steven Patrick Morrissey was born on 22nd May 1959 in Manchester, England. His father Peter Morrissey was a hospital porter while his mother Elizabeth worked as a librarian. He also has an elder sister named Jacqueline. He developed an interest in poetry from an early age. He also was a fan of Oscar Wilde’s works.
As a child living in the Hulme area of inner Manchester, he was deeply affected by the Moors murders, in which several local children were killed.
He studied at St. Wilfred’s Primary School, where he found the experience extremely unpleasant. He later became extremely critical of the education system and described it as evil and brutal. He saw music as a way of escape from these horrors. He eventually left school in 1975 without any formal qualification.
He later went to Stretford Technical College where he studied English literature and sociology.
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Morrissey initially started playing in a band named the Nosebleeds. Later in 1982, he teamed up with guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce and formed ‘The Smiths’.
Their debut single ‘Hand in Glove’ was released in 1983. It peaked at the third position on the UK Indie Chart. In February 1984, they released their debut album ‘The Smiths’. It was well received by the public and the critics. It reached the 2nd position on the UK Albums chart.
‘Meat is Murder’ (1985) was the second studio album by the band. It was based on Morrissey’s commitment to vegetarianism. It reached the 1st position on the UK Albums chart, staying there for thirteen weeks. It also reached the 110th position on the US Billboard 200 and the 1st position on the Canadian charts. It appeared on the list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ by Rolling Stone in 2003.
The Smiths continued to enjoy success with their third studio album ‘The Queen is Dead’ in 1986. It peaked at the second position on the UK Albums chart and also reached number 2 on the US Billboard 200. It received much critical acclaim as well and NME listed it as the greatest album ever in 2013.
The band’s final album ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ (1987) was also a success. It reached the 2nd position on the UK Albums charts, where it stayed for seventeen weeks. It also reached the 55th position on the US Billboard 200.
Though the group had found much success and popularity, Marr left because of personal reasons. Following his departure, Morrissey tried to find a replacement through auditions but was unable to do so. Therefore, the band had to eventually break up.
Morrissey released his debut solo album ‘Viva Hate’ in March 1988. It was well-received by the critics. It stood at the 1st position on the UK Albums chart and reached the 48th position on the US Billboard 200.
His next album, ‘Kill Uncle,’ released in 1991, didn’t do very well commercially due to its unconventional nature. Reviews from the critics were also divided, with some praising it and the others panning it.
His third studio album ‘Your Arsenal’ was a success. It reached the 4th position on the UK Albums chart and the 21st position on the US Billboard 200. It was praised by the critics as well.
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Over the next years, he continued to release several other albums. He connected with his fans by embarking on extensive tours. His successful albums in the 1990s and the 2000s include ‘Southpaw Grammar’ (1995), ‘You are the Quarry’ (2004), ‘Years of Refusal’ (2009) and ‘World Peace is None of Your Business’ (2014).
His most recent work is ‘Low in High School,’ his eleventh studio album. It was released in November 2017. It entered the charts in various countries, reaching the 5th position on the UK Albums chart and the 20th position on the US Billboard 200.
One of the most successful works in Morrissey’s career is his band’s fourth studio album ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’. The album was listed by Saint Magazine at the 69th position on its list of ‘Best Albums of the 1980s’. Known as the band’s most lush and richest work, it reached the 2nd position on the UK Albums chart and the 55th position on the US Billboard 200.
‘Your Arsenal’, Morrissey’s third studio album is another one of his successful works. It earned critical acclaim and reached the 4th position on the UK Albums chart and the 21st position on the US Billboard 200. It included singles such as ‘Glamorous Glue’, ‘Certain People I Know’ and ‘We Hate it when Our Friends Become Successful’. It is the only work in his career to be nominated for the Grammy Awards.
Another important work in his career is ‘World Peace is None of Your Business’, his tenth studio album. It reached the 2nd position on the UK Albums chart and the 14th position on the US Billboard 200.
The album also entered the charts in various other countries, such as Australia, Denmark, and Germany. It was well-received by the critics. It included tracks such as ‘Neal Cassady Drops Dead’, ‘Earth is the Loneliest Planet’ and ‘Bullfighter Dies’.
Morrissey has been a strong advocate for animal rights and also a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). At their 25th anniversary, he was honored with the Linda McCartney Memorial Award.
He has attracted controversy for statements such as calling the Chinese a ‘subspecies’ due to the rampant animal abuse in their country. He has also been critical of people such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, and David Beckham.
In 2006, he stated that he wouldn’t perform any concerts in Canada, as he supported a boycott of Canadian goods as a protest against the annual seal hunt in Canada, which he described as cruel and barbaric.
He has criticized people such as Jamie Oliver and Clarissa Dickson Wright for their promotion of meat eating. He also criticized the British royal family for their involvement in fox hunting.
He is vehemently critical of companies such as McDonald’s and KFC for their treatment of animals. In 2014, he stated that eating animals is at par with pedophilia. He has been vegetarian from the age of 11, and eventually turned vegan, as reported in 2015.
Morrissey released an autobiography in 2013. It was simply titled ‘Autobiography.’ The next year, it was reported that he was writing his debut novel.
Though initially he was vague about his sexuality, he later revealed that he was bisexual although he disliked sex. He hasn’t revealed much about his dating life and has kept his personal life very private. He maintains several homes in Los Angeles, Switzerland, and the UK.