'He ran his own race': Remembering The Fall's Mark E Smith
British post-punk legend Mark E Smith, the founder, frontman and only constant member of The Fall, passed away overnight at the age of 60.
While The Fall never crossed over into the mainstream, their influence on the world of rock’n’roll was immense.
Countless bands aped the sound and attitude of the band – you can hear The Fall in everyone from Blur to Pavement to Sonic Youth to Franz Ferdinand and beyond – but no one could sound like them.
That’s purely down to Mark E Smith, both his character and his voice.
On Double J this morning, triple j’s Richard Kingsmill remembered the legend and what made him such an intriguing figure.
“The sound of his voice is unmistakable,” Kingsmill told Zan Rowe. “That's the thing that Fall fans have always been drawn to.
“He really was The Fall. They had over 60 different members in the line up of the group, they had over 30 albums, and the only constant through it all was him, his songwriting, and that voice.”
He never played the game and that's what a lot of people really loved about him.Richard Kingsmill
That immense influence was what kept the band relevant through the years. It’s what drew people to discover the band and kept them pumping out records year after year.
“He never played the game and that's what a lot of people really loved about him,” Kingsmill said. “He just had that off-the-wall nature.
“He was supported a lot throughout his career by people like John Peel, John Peel was an absolutely massive fan and would always play The Fall on his radio shows.
"Also, people like Damon Albarn. One of Blur's biggest influences was The Fall, so that kept them in the minds of a lot of British music fans.”
While his voice was undoubtedly distinct, so was his songwriting.
“He was a very unique talent, a very unique songwriter,” Kingsmill said. “His influences went deep, he was very literary in what he wrote about.
“You could listen to his records and, at times, understand what he was talking about and the character he was writing about, what he was saying about his own life and his view on the world. Other times it was a bit darker and a bit harder to understand what he was saying, so there was that real mystery behind his songwriting.”
The Fall had over 60 members throughout their time as a band, as Smith would frequently hire and fire members at will.
“He was just a one of a kind, he just ran his own race,” Kingsmill said. “He didn't care about what was happening around him, he'd fire members within a couple of months of them joining the band, find more members and just continue on.”
Throughout the day, artists have been sharing their commiserations about Smith’s passing.
Here are a few highlights:
Mark E Smith will always be one of the pillars of influence for me as lyricist and trouble maker. I’ve built trust in people based on wether they owned and actually loved Fall records. Thanks 4 making rock literary, and mischievous. RIP.— CEDRIC BIXLER ZAVALA (@cedricbixler_) January 24, 2018
Mark, me old mucker... you will be sorely missed! The North will rise again! RIP. Love Hooky x— Peter Hook (@peterhook) January 24, 2018
Blasting the Fall today. Wish more artist were as true to themselves! RIP Mark E.— win butler (@DJWindows98) January 24, 2018
Alas, the great Mark E Smith has passed away. Not merely a legend of indie music, but someone who, for me, was a gateway into that very genre. Will be blasting the A Sides album all week now. The Fall are no more, long live the Fall! pic.twitter.com/rsxFybINmn— edgarwright (@edgarwright) January 24, 2018