Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography

Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography

by Johnny Marr


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The long-awaited memoir from the legendary guitarist and cofounder of the seminal British band The Smiths.

An artist who helped define a period in popular culture, Johnny Marr tells his story in a memoir as vivid and arresting as his music. The Smiths, the band with the signature sound he cofounded, remains one of the most beloved bands ever, and have a profound influence on a number of acts that followed—from the Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, and Radiohead to Oasis, The Libertines, and Arctic Monkeys.

Marr recalls his childhood growing up in the northern working-class city of Manchester, in a house filled with music. He takes us back to the summer of 1982 when, at eighteen, he sought out one Stephen Morrissey to form a new band they called The Smiths. Marr invites fans on stage, on the road, and in the studio for the five years The Smiths were together and how after a rapid ascent, the working-class teenage rock star enjoyed and battled with the perks of success until ideological differences, combined with his much publicized strained relationships with fellow band mates, caused him to leave in 1987. Marr’s “escape” as he calls it, ensured the beginning of the end for one of the most influential groups of a generation. But The Smiths’ end was only the beginning for Marr. The bona-fide guitar hero continues to experiment and evolve in his solo career to this day, playing with Paul McCartney, Pretenders, Modest Mouse, Oasis and collaborating today’s most creative and renowned artists. 

Rising above and beyond the personal struggles and bitter feuds, Marr delivers the story of his music and his band, sharing the real insights of a man who has made music his life, and finally giving fans what they’ve truly been waiting for.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062438737
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 152,222
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Johnny Marr is a musician and songwriter. Between 1982 and 1987 he was the co-founder of and guitarist for The Smiths. He is now an established solo artist who has released two albums, The Messenger and Playland, to date. He currently lives in Manchester, England.

Table of Contents

Emily's 1

Ardwick Green 3

Petrol Blues 21

Terraces 33

Wythenshawe 37

West Wythy 47

Town 62

Angie 73

Stagewear for the Street 84

X 98

Crazy Face 105

Morrissey and Marr 109

The Smiths It Is 127

The Ritz 136

Portland Street 145

Hand in Glove 153

London 160

The Heatwave 167

Marple Bridge 176

Top of the Pops 184

New York 191

Earls Court 198

Glastonbury 212

Meat Is Murder 216

America 222

The Queen Is Dead 231

High on Intensity, 1986 253

Crash 260

Talking Heads: 88 273

Talk of the Town 280

The New Thing 286

Get the Message 297

Nile 313

Dusk 315

Sonny 329

High Court 332

Boomslang 340

The End of a Perfect Day 355

Portland 362

The Good Ship Modest Mouse 377

The New Fellas 386

We Share the Same Skies 394

Inception 401

Individual Citizen 404

Too Late to Stop Now 422

Acknowledgements 427

Why Playing the Guitar Means Everything 429

Always on the Outside: Mavericks, Innovators, and Building Your Own Ark 431

Picture Credits 441

Index 443

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