Johnny Marr was born in 1960s Manchester to Irish emigrant parents and knew from an early age that he would be a musician. Forming his first band at thirteen, Marr spent his teenage years in public housing, playing guitar, devouring pop culture, and inventing his own musical style.
It wasn’t until the early eighties, when Marr turned up on the doorstep of a singer named Steven Patrick Morrissey, that both a unique songwriting partnership and the group recognized as one of the most iconic bands of all time were formed. In 1983, The Smiths released their first single, and within a year their eponymous debut album reached number two in the UK chart, paving the way for mainstream and critical success on their own terms. Fame in America, where The Smiths were beloved by fans desperate for a musical alternative to the power rock dominating the airwaves.
For Marr, tensions within the band and desire for a wider musical scope led to his departure from The Smiths in 1987, ensuring the end of one of the most influential British groups ever.
But the end of The Smiths was just the beginning for Marr. Set the Boy Free explores a musical journey that has spanned decades, styles, and genres—from forming Electronic with Bernard Sumner of New Order and then The Healers, to playing with Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Nile Rodgers, The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs to collaborating with Hans Zimmer and receiving acclaim and worldwide success in his own right as a solo artist, Marr has never stopped making captivating music. Here, for the first time, he tells his own side of the story.
From roaming the streets of Manchester to constantly pushing musical boundaries as a true icon and one of the most revered guitarists in the world, Set the Boy Free is a memoir that fans have been clamoring for, and one that will share the history of a band, and a man who has followed his dream and made himself a legend.
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.