Steven Patrick Morrissey, known primarily as Morrissey, rose to prominence in the 1980s as the lyricist and vocalist of the alternative rock band The Smiths. The band was highly successful in the UK but broke up in 1987, and Morrissey began a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart in the United Kingdom on ten occasions.
Widely regarded as an important innovator in indie music. Morrissey's lyrics have been described as "dramatic, bleak, funny vignettes about doomed relationships, lonely nightclubs, the burden of the past and the prison of the home." He is also noted for his unique baritone vocal his quiff haircut and his dynamic live performances.
Of his youth, Morrissey said, "Pop music was all I ever had, and it was completely entwined with the image of the pop star. I remember feeling the person singing was actually with me and understood me and my predicament." Morrissey sometimes went to see bands at local Manchester venues.
Throughout the 1970s, a teenage Morrissey acted as president of the UK branch of the New York Dolls fan club. This New York Dolls influence made Morrissey an early convert to punk rock. Morrissey briefly fronted The Nosebleeds in 1978.
After The Nosebleeds' split, Morrissey joined Slaughter & the Dogs, briefly replacing original singer Wayne Barrett. He recorded four songs with the band and they auditioned for a record deal in London. He suspended his music career and focused on writing on popular culture. He published two works with Babylon Books: The New York Dolls in 1981, and James Dean is Not Dead two years later.
In early 1982, The Smiths were formed after Morrissey met the guitarist Johnny Marr and the two began a songwriting partnership. The Smiths began to acquire a dedicated fan base. In February 1984, they released their debut album The Smiths, which reached number two on the UK Albums Chart.
In 1984, the band released two non-album singles: "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (their first UK top-ten hit) and "William, It Was Really Nothing.” The year ended with the compilation album Hatful of Hollow. Early in 1985 the band released their second album, Meat is Murder, which was their only studio album to top the UK charts. The single-only release "Shakespeare's Sister" reached number 26 on the UK Singles Chart.
In early 1987, the single "Shoplifters of the World Unite" was released and reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. It was followed by a second compilation, The World Won't Listen, which reached number two in the charts – and the single "Sheila Take a Bow," the band's second (and last during the band's lifetime) UK top-10 hit.
Despite their continued success, personal differences within the band – including the increasingly strained relationship between Morrissey and Marr . By the time the group's fourth album Strangeways, Here We Come was released in September, the band had split up.
In March 1988, Morrissey released his first solo album, Viva Hate. Which reached number one upon release, supported by the singles "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday.” Viva Hate was certified Gold by the RIAA on 16 November 1993.
By 1994, Morrissey had suffered the loss of three people close to him: Mick Ronson, Tim Broad and Nigel Thomas. Morrissey wrote and recorded his second number one album in the UK, Vauxhall and I. Years after, Morrissey acknowledged that he felt that it was going to be his last album, and that not only was it the best album he'd ever made but that he would never be able to top it in the future. One of the album's songs, "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get," reached number eight in the UK and number 46 in the U.S.
In November 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named Morrissey Number 92 of "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time." The list was compiled from ballots cast by a panel of 179 music experts.
Years of Refusal was released worldwide in February 2009 by the Universal Music Group. Upon release, it reached third place in the UK Albums Chart and 11 in the US Billboard 200. The record was widely acclaimed by critics, with comparisons made to Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I.
Also in 2009, Morrissey was denied that a reunion of The Smiths would take place. In an interview with BBC Radio 2, he remarked that "people always ask me about reunions, and I can't imagine why... the past seems like a distant place, and I'm pleased about that." Morrissey also stated that "chances were slim" that he himself would continue performing past the age of 55.