Johnny Rogan's 1992 biography of The Smiths' leading duo and subsequent fall out is a big seller and the definitive take on one of the 80's best loved and most missed bands, at least until Johnny Marr and/or Morrissey release definitive autobiographies.
It also has the potential to make a great biopic.
When Morrissey heard about the book, he famously said: "Personally I hope Johnny Rogan ends his days very soon in an M3 pile-up" and that was before the book and released and he had read any of it. You can't buy that kind of publicity as a writer!
I'm surprised (and glad, to a degree) that nobody has attempted to turn The Smiths' story into a film. Maybe it's because it could be incredibly easy to mess it up. The portrayal of Morrissey would have to be nuanced. It could quite easily fall into a bad impression or parody.
A film version of events in the book could focus on the 1986 The Queen is Dead section of the book. Johnny Marr is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and drinking heavily, producing what will become one of the greatest albums of all time whilst also managing the band's affairs. Bassist Andy Rourke is struggling with heroin and addiction (which ended with Morrissey allegedly sacking him from the band with a post-it note on the car windscreen that said "Andy - you have left The Smiths. Goodbye and good luck, Morrissey") and the band's record label Rough Trade delaying the release of the album because of a legal dispute with the band, who wanted to leave.
High drama indeed; and it didn't end there. The band split a year later and Morrissey went solo, with Marr preferring to collaborate with a wide range of artists, including The Pretenders, The The and more recently, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. Within a few years, bassist Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce are dragging the songwriting partnership through the High Court for unpaid royalties.
This is where a biopic could get really interesting. The courts tore into Morrissey's character (he still references the experience in songs years later like The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get in 1994 and I Like You in 2004) and ordered Morrissey and Marr to pay out.
The film could be a seminal band version of The Social Network, and would be fascinating to see the workings of a magical songwriting partnership and the disintegration of that relationship seen on film. It would take a brave director to attempt it though.
I could see British directors like Michael Winterbottom or Danny Boyle adapting this book in style. Winterbottom absolutely nailed the Factory Records (1976-92) Manchester era in 24 Hour Party People and Danny Boyle always has a great eye for making location integral to his films.
It would take a brave screenwriter, director and a very brave actor to tackle the part of Mozzer, but The Smiths have such a unique story, it could be a gem of a film. The music, the wit, the fashion, the politics and the vegetarianism could make for an instant classic.
A boy can only dream, for now...
In the meantime, give the book a read. Whether you love The Smiths or not, it is easily one of the best rock biographies and a great piece of writing. The amount of research and attention to detail inside is incredible, and the photos within the book include a picture of a teenage Morrissey with long hair.
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