Mark E. Smith, who fronted the post-punk band the Fall, has died. Smith was 60 years old, and the cause of death has not been revealed. The Fall cancelled their 2017 US tour dates when Smith was hospitalized for a rare medical condition related to his heart and respiratory system. The band’s manager, Pamela Vander, released a statement that a fan Twitter account shared a little under an hour ago. Pitchfork confirmed the news.
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith. He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days. In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.
Smith formed the Fall in 1976 in Prestwich, a town in the greater Manchester area. Before forming the band, Smith worked on the docks in Manchester. During that time, Smith tried and failed to join a series of local metal bands before choosing to start his own group. Throughout his long career, Smith had a notoriously difficult relationship with his many bandmates and remained the only consistent member of the Fall. In ’98, he was arrested for attacking the Fall’s keyboardist Julie Nagle, who was his girlfriend at the time.
Smith was a prolific musician. The Fall released their debut full-length Live At The Witch Trials in 1979. In 1980, the band signed with Rough Trade; their first release for the label was the live album Totale’s Turns, and the Fall wasted no time releasing their third album Grotesque (After The Gramme) that same year. The 1980s proved to be an especially fertile period for the band, releasing favorites like Perverted By Language and The Nation’s Saving Grace. In the ’90s Smith continued to work rapidly, delivering an album every year between 1990 and 1997, a pace that continued through the 2000s.
Over the course of his long career, Smith became known for his caustic, sometimes indiscernible singing voice, which he leaned into as he grew older, embracing its ragged qualities on albums like Imperial Wax Solvent. In 2009, Smith published an autobiography titled Renegade: The Lives And Tales of Mark E. Smith. He collaborated with acts like Gorillaz, Elastica, Coldcut, Mouse On Mars, and released two solo albums: The Post-Nearly Man and Pander! Panda! Panzer! Smith’s vocal stylings would influence scores of musicians to follow, and his band impacted indie rock as we know it today.
We ranked all of the Fall’s albums in 2015. If you’d like to learn more about Smith’s impressive career, you can read more here.