Morrissey (UK singer; vocalist of The Smiths)
Legal name: Steven Patrick Morrissey
Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May 1959), professionally known only as Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter and author. He rose to prominence as the lyricist and vocalist of the indie rock band The Smiths, which was active from 1982 to 1987. Since then, Morrissey has had a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart on ten occasions.
Born in Davyhulme, Lancashire to a working-class Irish migrant family, Morrissey grew up in Manchester. As a child he developed a love of literature, kitchen sink realism, and popular music. Involved in Manchester's punk rock scene during the late 1970s, he fronted two punk bands, The Nosebleeds and Slaughter & The Dogs, with little success. Beginning a career in music journalism, he authored a number of books on music and film in the early 1980s. With Johnny Marr he established The Smiths in 1982, soon attracting national recognition for their self-titled debut album. As the band's frontman, Morrissey attracted attention both for his intelligent, witty, and sardonic lyrics and his idiosyncratic appearance; deliberately avoiding rock machismo, he cultivated the aesthetic of a social outsider who eschewed drugs and embraced celibacy. The Smiths released five further albums – including the critically acclaimed Meat is Murder and The Queen is Dead – and had a string of hit singles. Personal differences between Morrissey and Marr resulted in The Smiths' separation in 1987.
In 1988, Morrissey launched his solo career with the album Viva Hate. This and its follow-up albums – Bona Drag, Kill Uncle, Your Arsenal, and Vauxhall and I – all did well in the UK Albums Chart and spawned a number of hit singles. Having left Britain and moved to Los Angeles, during the mid-1990s Morrissey's image began to shift into that of a burlier figure, who toyed with patriotic imagery and working-class masculinity; his discussions of British national identity resulted in accusations of racism, which he denied. In the mid-to-late 1990s, his subsequent albums, Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, also charted but were less well received. After a hiatus between 1998 and 2003, Morrissey released a successful comeback album, You Are the Quarry, in 2004. Relocating to Italy, ensuing years saw the release of albums Ringleader of the Tormentors, Years of Refusal, and World Peace Is None of Your Business. In 2013 Morrissey released his autobiography, followed by his first novel in 2015.
Highly influential, Morrissey is widely credited as being a seminal figure in the emergence of indie rock and Britpop. He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest lyricists in British history, with his lyrics having become the subject of academic study. Having attracted an international and highly dedicated cult following, Morrissey's ambiguous sexuality has also resulted in him becoming a gay icon. However, his forthright opinions – endorsing vegetarianism and animal rights, condemning royalty and prominent politicians, and questioning issues of British national and cultural identity – have courted controversy.