Smiths legend Marr honoured by University

Friday 20 July 2012
Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr
Legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr’s outstanding achievements in a music career spanning four decades were recognised yesterday (Thursday 19 July) with the granting of an honorary degree by the University of Salford.

The influential guitarist and songwriter, whose distinctive sound has been credited with changing the face of British guitar music and inspiring a generation of indie bands across the world, received a doctorate of arts at The Lowry in Salford Quays at a University graduation ceremony.

Marr joined the University of Salford in 2007 as a visiting professor in popular music. His regular masterclasses have helped to inspire a new generation of musicians joining a long line of successful bands to have studied at the University.

Accepting his honorary degree, Marr said: “I’ve had a great time with my association with Salford University as visiting professor. The seminars have been a lot of fun and a good learning process for me.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting the students – they’ve been an inspiration to me as much as I have to them, and I look forward to more work with the University in future.”

Born in Ardwick in 1963, Marr taught himself the guitar at 11 and as a teenager started writing songs and playing in various bands in Manchester. At 17 he decided to form a band and approached Steven Morrissey from Stretford, a singer four years his senior and a well known figure around the Manchester punk scene.

The pair christened their new band The Smiths and a new chapter in pop music history began. From 1982 until 1987 The Smiths embarked on a career of unforgettable shows and record releases and, through Marr’s original and dazzling musicality and Morrissey’s unique outsider world view, they redefined British guitar pop.

After disbanding The Smiths, Marr started a prolific career as a co-writer and collaborator with a number of hugely significant groups and musicians such as Talking Heads, The The, Bryan Ferry, Beck and Electronic, as well as discovering new local talent Oasis. He has been cited as an influence by many more bands, including Blur, Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers.

In 2005 he joined Modest Mouse and achieved his first US number one album, before moving back to the UK in 2010 to join The Cribs for their first UK top ten LP Ignore The Ignorant. In 2011 Marr scored his first film soundtrack called The Big Bang, and then recorded the soundtrack to the film Inception with legendary composer Hans Zimmer.