Early Inspiration

1978

NILE RODGERS – ‘I Want Your Love’ 1978

A classic for me is Nile Rodgers’ guitar part on Chic’s ‘I Want Your Love’. All that is born out of an early love for Bo Diddley. That beat is the root of all dance music. When I do sessions and I can’t find a way into the track, I look for the Bo Diddley, whether it’s half-time or double-time. (1990)

If you listen to The Smiths’ ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’, the rhythm part from verse two onwards – that chick-a-chick part – it’s pure Nile Rogers…

The Guitar Magazine, January 1997

1977

EVELYLN CHAMPAGNE KING – ‘Shame’ 1977

‘Shame’ by Evelyn Champagne King, that was the first twelve-inch I ever bought.

‘TELEVISION – ‘Marquee Moon’ 1977

1976

CAN – ‘I Want More’ 1976

PAUL DAVIDSON – ‘Midnight Rider’ 1976

A reggae version of a Greg Allman/Robert Payne song (1972)

1975

PATTI SMITH – ‘Horses’ 1975

But I did get into the American new wave scene, Patti Smith in particular. When I heard ‘Horses’, that changed me quite a lot. Then I got into Television’s Marquee Moon and Talking Heads ’77. After Patti Smith, I thought, Great, I can play big, loud chords on a Les Paul through a Fender Twin Reverb, instead of sitting around with an acoustic guitar. I could pick like Bert Jansch, but I wanted to look like Ivan Kraal from the Patti Smith Group. From then on, I didn’t look back.

PATTI SMITH – ‘Kimberly’ 1975

FATBACK BAND – ‘Yum Yum (Gimme Some)’ 1975

I like those overstated guitar parts, like the one on the Fatback Band’s ‘Yum Yum (Gimme Some)’ which gives you all the rhythmic bits that your body wants to feel.

(1990)

HAMILTON BOHANNON – ‘Disco Stomp’ 1975

I was absolutely crazy about ‘Disco Stomp’ by Hamilton Bohannon. He was an American, late ’60s, early ’70s artist that pioneered the kind of four-on-the-floor thing. He had a big chart hit, which was an unusual sound in ’75 for the UK, called Disco Stomp. It went “Everybody do the Disco Stomp/ Everybody do the Disco Stomp,” and it had this overstated, choppy rhythm. It wasn’t this vibrato as such, but I found the rhythm totally infectious and I was nuts about it.

Ink 19, May 2003

1974

THE ISLEY BROTHERS – ‘Live It Up’ 1974

1973

THE ISLEY BROTHERS – ‘That Lady’ 1973

1972

DAVID BOWIE – ‘Suffragette City’ 1972

MOTT THE HOOPLE – ‘All The Young Dudes’ 1972

Right, Mott The Hoople’s version of “All the Young Dudes,” which I didn’t realize was written by David Bowie, was almost mystical to me. I was obsessed with it. To get technical about it, I wondered where the “magic spot” was — this split second of magic. I realized it was on the line (sings) “Carry the new-ews” — the chord change goes from a major chord to a minor chord. That experience coincided with me actually putting chord changes together on the guitar. Of course, I felt like I was learning alchemy or something.

Ink 19, May 2003

IGGY AND THE STOOGES – ‘Gimme Danger’ 1972

I think the greatest riff of all time is ‘Gimme Danger’ by James Williamson, off Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power album. It’s dark but beautiful, it’s got attitude but is not without subtlety. There’s dark and light in it, it’s druggy and sexy, and sounds like me… apparently!

IGGY AND THE STOOGES – ‘I Need Somebody’ 1972

Marr would later admit the tune (‘Never Had No One Ever’) was inspired by guitarist James Williamson’s playing on ‘I Need Somebody’ from Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power. ‘I wasn’t looking to cop a riff’ says Marr, ‘I was looking to cop a feeling.

The Smiths – The Songs That Saved Your Life by Simon Goddard

James Williamson is playing, his night time guitar melody from Gimme Danger. It’s beautiful and mysterious, unique. Like a girl I know.

Twitter, 12 December 2010

T REX – ‘Metal Guru’ 1972

It’s so beautiful and commercial but slightly weird and I could not believe what I was hearing because it was so all-encompassing. It connected with something beyond my regular senses. Mojo Magazine, 28 January 2009
I saw Mark Bolan do that on TOTPs when I was about 11…It was the first time I heard the song. I was already a bit of a T Rex fan. It just completely changed my life, really that moment, cause I had never heard anything like it. The sound of the record for start is really, kind of an amazing, sorta melodramatic, kinda gothic, yet dramatic sound.”

BBC Radio 2

The influence of T-Rex is very profound on certain songs of The Smiths like ‘Panic’ and ‘Shoplifters’. Morrissey was himself also mad about Bolan. When we wrote ‘Panic’, he was obsessed with ‘Metal Guru’ and wanted to sing in the same style. He didn’t stop singing it, in an attempt to modify the words of ‘Panic’ to fit the exact rhythm of ‘Metal Guru’. He also exhorted me to use the same guitar break, so that the two songs are the same.

Les Inrockuptibles, 21 May 1999

T REX – ‘Telegram Sam’ 1972

THE SEA SHELLS – ‘Maybe I Know’ 1972

The lyrics are so sorta bumblegum and throw away, but she sings them so convincingly it’s just incredible.

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

1971

T REX – ‘Jeepster’ 1971

By the time I was 10 or 11, I started to buy T-Rex records — they were the first group I thought of as “mine.” ‘Jeepster’ was the first record I bought. The main riff, which was a complete steal from Howlin’ Wolf, got me into playing guitar.

(1990)

1970

BOB AND MARCIA YOUNG – ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ 1970

It was one of the records that both Morrissey and myself liked in the same way. It reminded us both of being youthful fanatics and being outside of the norm… Then, amazingly, when Bernard Sumner and I started to get close we both discovered that we liked that record in the same way.

Mojo Magazine, 28 January 2009

NEIL YOUNG – ‘Cinnamon Girl’ 1970

And I got into the one-note solo from Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’, which I thought was incredible.

(1990)

THE EQUALS – ‘Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys’ 1970

Some records you wear down and you wear out but this one… I remember it from being out from when I was a kid but unlike some of the other tracks I play, I don’t listen to it for that reason, I like it because it reminds me of something shared between me and my mate.

Mojo Magazine, 28 January 2009

FLEETWOOD MAC – ‘Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)’ 1970

FLEETWOOD MAC – ‘Dragonfly’ 1970

ROLLING STONES – Confessin’ The Blues 1970

(written by Walter Brown and Jay McShann)

1969

THE ISLEY BROTHERS – ‘Behind A Painted Smile’ 1969

Motown provided a fantastic alternative to the rock music my mates were getting into. I ventured into this place called Rare Records on John Dalton Street in Manchester, I went into the basement and I remember to this day it was like a sea of future happiness.

Mojo Magazine, 28 January 2009

THE ROLLING STONES – ‘Gimme Shelter’ 1969

1968

The BEATLES – The White Album 1968

The White Album was the strongest influence on us towards the end, things like ‘Cry Baby Cry’ and ‘I’m So Tired’.

(1990)

1967

The Beatles – I Am The Walrus 1967

But my favorite Beatles record has got to be ‘I Am The Walrus’. To me, it’s Hieronymous Bosch and Salvador Dali set to music….Well, that’s what ‘I Am The Walrus’ sounds like to me. That is completely and utterly beyond what we think of as pop music. It could only have come out of popular culture. It’s completely anarchic and beautiful. I very rarely would use the word ‘genius’ but it’s a genius piece of work, and genuinely trippy, you know? I don’t think anything’s really quite surpassed it in terms of pop music. Not even ‘See Emily Play’ or anything like that.

Ink19, May 2003

1966

THE ROLLING STONES – ’19th Nervous Breakdown’ 1966

THE HOLLIES – ‘Bus Stop’ 1966

If you listen in the background you can hear Graham Nash squeeking away, which is one of the things that really appeals to me about this record. His harmonies were just really, really good.

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

MARVELLETTES – ‘Paper Boy’ 1966

It was Morrissey who turned me on to this record actually, the very first time I met him, he turned me on to that with a number of other records…I think it’s got an amazing rhythm and an amazing beat to it. It’s one of the first songs Smokey Robinson had a hand in writing and everything about it is just so perfect.

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

MARVELLETTES – ‘You’re The One’ 1966

B-side of ‘Paper Boy’

1965

THE ROLLING STONES – ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ 1965

The main thing I took from Keith Richards was his musical ideology – that there is a nobility in playing rhythm guitar and being the engine room and steering the ship – all these very valorous concepts which he threw in the face of guitar culture in the early ’70s.

Mojo, 28 January 2009

GEORGE HARRISON – ‘Ticket To Ride’ 1965

And it was George Harrison who influenced me to get a Rickenbacker. ‘Ticket To Ride’ – what a brilliant song!

Guitar Player, January 1990

FOUR TOPS – ‘Something About You’ 1965

THE SUPREMES – ‘Stop! In The Name Of Love’ 1965

1964

DEL SHANNON – ‘The Answer to Everything’ 1964

1963

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD – ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ 1963

One song that really kinda took over the atmosphere of my early childhood was ‘I Only Want To Be With You’…My love of Dusty Springfield, it goes way beyond just liking retro music, you know. It’s always been there all my life. It’s a very kinda rich, soulful and very, very British sound.

BBC6 First Time radio interview

THE COOKIES – ‘I Want A Boy For My Birthday’ 1963

1962

MARVIN GAYE – ‘Hitch Hike’ 1962

1961

THE CRYSTALS – ‘There’s No Other Like My Baby’ 1961

There is an unpretentiousness to it, and compared to what was passing itself off as weird in rockland with pro music at the time this just sounded weirder to me, and it seemed to come from an odder dimension.

Mojo Magazine, 28 January 2009

EVERLY BROTHERS – ‘Walk Right Back’ 1961

I had an uncle who played guitar and sang hits of the day, like ‘Walk Right Back’ by the Everly Brothers, and I thought that was really cool.
(1990)

BEN E KING – ‘Young Boy Blues’ 1961

It’s just got a great melody, and the lyrics are just heart wrenching, it’s fantastic.

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

1960

SHANGRI-LAS – ‘I’ll Never Learn’ 1960

This one I like because of the strings in it, and it’s just really, really sad.

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

BEN E KING AND THE DRIFTERS – ‘I Count The Tears’ 1960

HOWLING WOLF -‘Spoonful’ 1960

Quite a gritty vocal…

Interview with Kid Jensen, 30 May 1984

JIMMY JONES – Handy Man 1960

‘Reel Around The Fountain’ was my interpretation of James Taylor’s version of ‘Handy Man’. I was trying to do a classic melodic pop tune, and it had the worst kind of surface prettiness to it. But at the same time, Joy Division was influencing everybody in England. That dark element — it wasn’t that I wanted to be like them, but they brought out something in the darkness of the overall track.

1959

RAY CHARLES – ‘What’d I Say’ 1959

1957

BO DIDDLEY – ‘Hey Mona’ 1957

All that is born out of an early love for Bo Diddley. That beat is the root of all dance music. When I do sessions and I can’t find a way into the track, I look for the Bo Diddley, whether it’s half-time or double-time. That’s right, and if it doesn’t run through it specifically, it does subliminally. Bo Diddley took the bits that you wanted, and hooked them all together in an overstated way. One of the things that attracted me to Bo Diddley early on was my parents’ copy of Elvis Presley’s ‘Marie’s The Name’, which has that beat. The Talking Heads called me in specifically because the song ‘Ruby Dear’ [Naked] had a Bo Diddley groove — that’s incredibly flattering.”

(1990)

1956

CHUCK BERRY – ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ 1956

That comes from a love of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. I’ve been trying to capture that same swing — I’d better be careful, because he’ll probably sue me if he reads this. The way he sang against the bass and drums sounded so great to me as a kid.

(1990)

Who were your early musical influences?
Bolan in 73, 74. Then I got turned onto loads of rock stuff like Led Zeppelin, The Who – bands like that. When punk started I got to know about all that through Billy Duffy. That was when I first heard about Morrissey. About 1977. Then I got into Patti Smith – all the sort of trendy American new wave. I fell in with that scene, really. There was Billy and a couple of the guys from Slaughter And The Dogs, Morrissey and a couple of others. It was Patti Smith that got me into Phil Spector – when I got into him it was just the end for me. Fantastic. He produced the Ronettes, so I got into them. I always said that I could relate to Phil Spector more directly than guitar players – like your Jeff Becks or your Eric Claptons. I never wanted to be a solo guitar soloist.
Did you lean on your influences at first?
Yeah. Raw Power (The Stooges) was another really important record for me. James Williamson (from The Stooges) is still one of my favourite guitar players – he’s top five, really. That stuff influenced my songwriting but I’d also been introduced to Bert Jansch, the folk guitar player. I got influenced by a couple of acoustic guitar players – Neil Young in a big way. My mentality was geared towards a direct, impassioned 3 1/2 minute single. But the actual guitar style was more melodic – not barre chords – it didn’t sound melodic enough just jazzing up and down the neck.
Which guitarists were an influence on you?
Since I was 15 or 16, there’s always been a core of four or five guitar players that I’m influenced by. Hubert Sumlin (Howling Wolf’s guitarist), Nile Rodgers, Georg Harrison, Bert Jansch and (pause) me! I like the guy that used to play on all the Ennio Morricone stuff, all the spaghetti western (whistles ‘Few More Dollars More’ line). He’s so definitive and so identifiable. Oh yeah, and the guy who played int he Jackson Five, amazing.

Total Guitar, May 1995