Mark E Smith dead: The Fall's lead singer dies aged 60

Punk singer died was forced to cancel shows last year amid reports of ill health

Ilana Kaplan
New York
Wednesday 24 January 2018 21:05
Mark E Smith, lead singer of The Fall, dies aged 60

The Fall’s lead singer and founding member Mark E Smith has died. He was 60. The band’s manager and Smith’s partner, Pam Vander, made the announcement via The Fall Online.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith,” she said in a statement.

“He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days.

“In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.” Vander, who previously used the stage name Pam Van Damned, said in a message posted on Twitter that it was “the day I’ve been dreading”.

It had been reported that Smith was ill for some time, which led to show cancellations in late 2017. In October, he performed at a Wakefield concert in a wheelchair.

Tributes were led by Smith’s former wife and ex-band member, Brix Smith Start, who posted: “I’m taking the news in right now. I will put a statement out tomorrow. I hope you will all understand.

“Thank you for your lovely messages, they mean a lot. I love you, Brix”.

Born in 1957, Smith formed The Fall with Martin Bramah and Tony Friel aged just 19. The band became a part of the 1970s punk movement and, while it went through several line-up changes, Smith was the founder and constant member of the band.

The Fall never quite found commercial success, but helmed a cult fan base care of their 32 studio albums.

Despite years of shows, Smith revealed in a recent interview that the nerves never left him.

“I get it bad for hours before,” he said. “All these cities I go to, I never see them. They may be the most beautiful places in the world but I'll just usually go to the nearest bar. I need a couple of hours by myself.”

Mark E Smith of The Fall performs. Credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Images.

Their most successful single was a cover version of the Kinks’ “Victoria”. The band’s most recent record New Facts Emerge came out in 2017.

Smith previously worked with Elastica, Gorillaz and Inspiral Carpets.

The Fall frontman married fellow band member Brix Smith Start in 1983, but they divorced by 1989. He later married the head of The Fall’s fan club Saffron Prior.

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Smith left behind late wife Eleni Poulou – who was also a member of The Fall for 14 years.

He released his autobiography Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith in 2008. In March 2017, Smith’s death was wrongfully reported on what happened to be his 60th birthday.

Friends, fans and musicians alike took to Twitter to mourn Smith’s death.

Frightened Rabbit quoted Smith saying, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

Billy Bragg reacted to the news, saying: ”First we lost Ursula Le Guin, then Hugh Masekela, now Mark E Smith. Been a tough week for cultural icons.”

Comedian Tim Vine called Smith “completely irreplaceable”, and Ginger Wildheart said he was a “unique visionary”.

Garbage also expressed their condolences.

BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne said Smith was “one of my biggest heroes”.

And director Edgar Wright praised Smith and The Fall’s work on Twitter.

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