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Still processing the unwelcome news. R.I P. Mark E. Smith, a bona fide genius of rock & roll. A master of lyrical opacity tuned in to frequencies that others didn’t hear. An original, a maverick, a man who stayed true, not only to himself but his prole art muse. Partly because he was made that way, partly to piss off the slags and slates of Medialand GB. Despite the confrontational attitude, a fair and generous heart – be straight with him and he’d be straight with you. Belie yourself with guile or cliché, and his psychic antennae would quickly find you out. Not a man to trifle with, always preferred the red pills to the blue. Having said this, he did have a wicked sense of humour. Of course, he could be mean and curmudgeonly, even vicious when the mood took him – as he said last year in an interview, he could “clear a pub” when he wanted to. Proud of it as well, showed he hadn’t lost his edge, Mark the Manc and all that. First time I saw The Fall play live was at Manchester Poly in 1978. The last was in Aberdeen 2005, when I opened for them at The Lemon Tree. In between the first and last, my band Khmer Rouge supported them on several UK tour dates; my ex wife Marcia joined them on keyboards when Khmer Rouge split in 1986; Claus Castenskiold, ex drummer of Khmer Rouge, painted several of their album covers; Mark released my first solo single in 1989 on his label Cog Sinister (he fucked up the mix on the A side, but if he hadn’t given me a break and a bit of hope, I doubt I’d ever have escaped the Camden Town shooting gallery). So yeah, a long and sometimes “difficult” relationship – I guess the 60 + former band members have ambivalent feelings too. But at the end of the day his vision prevailed, influencing everyone from Sonic Youth to Pavement to Sleaford Mods. Not to mention tipping the wink to Post-rock, lo-fi, Industrial and Noise. Fiery Jack came up from Hell, and he never did go back to the slow life. Cheers, Mark, and thanks for everything. Mark Edward Smith: born 05/03/1957, died 24/01/2018

Phil Shoenfelt
Prague, 26.01.2018