Johnny Marr (born John Martin Maher; 31 October 1963) is an English musician, songwriter, and singer. He first achieved fame as the guitarist and co-songwriter of The Smiths, who were active from 1982 to 1987. He has since performed with numerous other bands and embarked on a solo career.Born in Ardwick, Manchester, to Irish parents, Marr formed his first band at the age of 13. He was part of several bands with Andy Rourke before forming the Smiths with Morrissey in 1982. The Smiths attained commercial success and were critically acclaimed, with Marr's jangle pop guitar style becoming distinctive of the band's sound, but separated in 1987 due to personal differences between Marr and Morrissey. Since then, Marr has been a member of the Pretenders, The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse, and the Cribs, and he has become a prolific session musician, working with names such as Talking Heads and Hans Zimmer.Having released an album titled Boomslang in 2003 under the name Johnny Marr and the Healers, Marr released his first solo album, The Messenger, in 2013. His second solo album, Playland, was released in 2014, followed by a third, Call the Comet, in 2018. Marr's autobiography, Set the Boy Free, was published in 2016.Voted the fourth-best guitarist of the last 30 years in a poll conducted by the BBC in 2010, Phil Alexander, editor-in-chief of Mojo, has described Marr as "arguably Britain's last great guitar stylist". In 2013, NME honoured Marr with its "Godlike Genius" award, hailing him: "Not content with rewriting the history of music with one of the world's greatest ever bands, the Smiths, he's continued to push boundaries and evolve throughout his career, working with some of the best and most exciting artists on the planet."
Marr and his wife Angie have been together since 1979, before the Smiths formed. They have two children, Sonny and Nile Marr. Nile is also a musician, and was frontman of the band Man Made before going solo. After residing in Portland, Oregon, for more than five years, the family returned to Britain for Marr to record his solo album in Manchester.Marr gave up eating meat around 1985 in solidarity with Morrissey and Angie. He stated: "It's not a good idea to have a number one album called Meat Is Murder and be seen eating a bacon sarnie." After meeting American rap group Naughty By Nature, he was inspired by their philosophy of strength through health, and soon after quit drinking, smoking and converted to veganism. Marr is a keen runner, and completed the 2010 New York Marathon in a time of 3:54:18. Marr has been a supporter of Manchester City F.C. since 1972, and has been seen attending games. Marr is a patron of the Manchester Modernist Society.
Marr was born John Martin Maher on 31 October 1963 in Ardwick, Manchester, to John Joseph Maher and Frances Patricia Doyle, Irish emigrants to England, hailing from Athy, County Kildare. The family moved to Wythenshawe in 1972. From 1975, he attended St Augustine's Catholic Grammar School, which in 1977 merged with other schools to form St John Plessington High School.Marr had aspirations to be a professional football player. He was approached by Nottingham Forest and had trials with Manchester City.At the age of 13, Marr's family moved him to a new neighbourhood in Manchester where he met up with "a bunch of guitar players" which "changed his life". The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy was in a high school band that practised across the street from Marr's new house, and Marr would hang out listening to them rehearsing. Marr formed his first band, the Paris Valentinos, at the age of 13, with Andy Rourke (who had gone to the same high school as Duffy) and Kevin Williams (who later became an actor, known as Kevin Kennedy), performing for the first time at a Jubilee party in Benchill in June 1977, playing Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy covers.In 1979, he played a single gig at Wythenshawe Forum with a band called Sister Ray and re-united with Rourke in a band called White Dice. White Dice entered a demo-tape competition organised by the NME and won an audition for F-Beat Records, which they attended in April 1980 but were not signed. Around the age of 14, he began spelling his name "Marr" to simplify the pronunciation for those who had difficulty with his birth name "Maher", and to avoid confusion with Buzzcocks drummer John Maher.In October 1980, Marr enrolled at Wythenshawe College, serving as President of the school's Student Union. White Dice dissolved in 1981. Marr and Rourke then formed a funk band, Freak Party, with Simon Wolstencroft on drums. Around this time, Marr first met Matt Johnson, with whom he would later collaborate.
Movies & TV shows
Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague
One of the most successful film music composers is Hans Zimmer. His multi-award winning career has led to close relationships with directors such as Tony Scott, Michael Bay, Ron Howard, Gore Verbinski...
Johnny Marr has teamed up with the award-winning actor Maxine Peake to create a new project which sets Peake’s spoken word performances to Marr’s instrumental soundscapes. ‘The Priest’ is based upon t...
Biggest Band Break Ups and Make Ups
Mark Radcliffe looks at the highs and lows of band life - the creative tension that produces great music and the pressures that come with success and fame, which pulls many apart.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Life is busy for Peter. Between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with Gwen, high school graduation cannot come soon enough. Peter cannot keep a promise he made to Gwen's father ...
The Joy of the Guitar Riff
Traces the history and mechanics of the guitar riff over 60 years from the 1950s, from Chuck Berry through Hank Marvin, Black Sabbath and others to the White Stripes. Featuring interviews with some of...
The Smiths: Not Like Any Other Love
It's 30 years since Manchester four-piece The Smiths changed the face of British pop with their debut single Hand In Glove. In this half-hour Culture Show special, fellow Mancunian and lifelong fan Ti...
Last Shop Standing
Last Shop Standing, inspired by the book of the same name by Graham Jones, takes you behind the counter to discover why nearly 2000 record shops have already disappeared across the UK. The film charts...
Search and Destroy: Iggy & The Stooges' Raw Power
A documentary focused on Iggy Pop & The Stooges and their album "Raw Power".
Cobb, a skilled thief who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets, is offered a chance to regain his old life as payment for a task considered to be impossible: "in...
Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory Gallagher
Ghost Blues follows the life and career of Rory Gallagher from his upbringing in Cork, his early days with a showband, the brief success of Taste and then his legendary solo career leading up to his h...
Do It Yourself: The Story of Rough Trade
The Rough Trade story begins more than thirty years ago on 20th February 1976. Britain was in the grip of an IRA bombing campaign; a future prime minister was beginning to make her mark on a middle En...
1 TV show
The Story Of The Guitar
How did the guitar become the world’s favorite instrument? Alan Yentob begins this personal journey, fascinated by both the sound of the Oud, an ancient middle-eastern ancestor of the lute, and the ic...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
The Smiths: Still Ill
This DVD contains an incredible amount of insight into the two songwriting talents of The Smiths: Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Seen here for the first time is a less-than-usual guarded, open-but-cautiou...
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
Scott Walker is the subject of a documentary.
Seven Ages of Rock
The emergence and re-emergence of rock music as a global force is told through the musicians who have shaped this most enduring of genres.
The Smiths: Under Review
This in-depth retrospective surveys the history and music of the Smiths via interviews with the band, expert commentary and insights from insiders, including producer Stephen Street. Performance foota...
The Importance of Being Morrissey
The Importance of Being Morrissey is the most revealing and quotable documentary made on Steven Patrick Morrissey. In it, he compares meat eating to child abuse; attacks the Royal Family and Tony Blai...
Seven Worlds Collide: Neil Finn & Friends Live at the St. James
Neil Finn brings together some of his musician friends from around the globe for an awesome series of concerts at the St. James theatre in Auckland, New Zealand. Includes performances with Johnny Marr...
Oasis: 10 Years of Noise and Confusion
Live coverage of Oasis performing at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of their 2001 10 Years of Noise and Confusion anniversary tour.
7 Worlds Collide
Neil Finn & Friends Live At The St. James
The Smiths: The Complete Picture
Thirteen Smiths' recordings, half of them in a club with a live audience. These alternate with five rock videos, two directed by Derek Jarman (Panic and Ask), two by Tim Broad (Girlfriend in a Coma an...
The Smiths: The Complete Picture
The Smiths and their journey on film can be seen in 'The Complete Picture'.
The Queen Is Dead
Three song clips by The Smiths, 'The Queen Is Dead', 'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out' and 'Panic', were all directed with an artistic and conceptual vision by the late Derek Jarman. The result i...
The Smiths: Live at Rockpalast
There is a set list. The glove has a hand in it. Heaven knows I'm Miserable. Girl Afraid This man is nice. The girls make Graves. Still Ill. I Crack On The Head. This night has opened my eyes. Miserab...