Updated: Thursday, 13th August 2020 @ 11:08am

What if Morrissey hadn't met Marr? Tony Fletcher and Tom Hingley chat The Smiths and Inspiral Carpets

What if Morrissey hadn't met Marr? Tony Fletcher and Tom Hingley chat The Smiths and Inspiral Carpets

By Phil Jones

Life is full of what ifs.

What if you said no to that extra drink?

What if you asked that girl for her number?

What if you accepted that job offer?

There is one what if that does not bear thinking about though.

What if Johnny Marr had not knocked on Steven Morrissey’s Kings Road door in 1982?

Life without The Smiths simply would not be a life for millions of devoted fans across the globe.

But this and many other questions were discussed by The Smiths’ biographer Tony Fletcher and Inspiral Carpets’ Tom Hingley on Monday.

The conversation, in an intimate room on the top floor of Deansgate’s Waterstones, saw the authors read from their new books before answering audience questions.

With a lifetime spent in the music industry, both Fletcher and Hingley could have individually regaled the audience with stories from their past for hours.

But first we were treated to excerpts from their respective books, Fletcher’s an in depth look at what made The Smiths the seminal band they became.

And Hingley’s a documentation of his time as lead singer of ‘baggy’ Manchester band Inspiral Carpets.

Fletcher first read about the heritage of Morrissey and Marr, both of Irish descent the pair grew up in South Manchester.

Morrissey would be forced from his homes during a period of ‘slum clearance’ in the late 1960s, and can no longer find where his house once stood.

Despite the bands roots in Manchester, Fletcher described the great following they developed overnight in London.

During The Smiths’ first year of touring the band played more shows in London than they did in Manchester throughout their entire career.

So while the city hails them as their own, Fletcher’s book also highlights their appeal and the influence they had on the world beyond Manchester.

Hingley told stories of a certain Noel Gallagher stealing an electric fan from the back of an open van as they drove along in their mini-bus.

And how they persuaded Mark E Smith to sing on I Want You, before a calamitous appearance with The Fall’s iconic singer on Top Of The Pops.

The Inspiral’s frontman is clearly less of an orator than Fletcher, but was definitely more of a performer, breaking into his best impression of Smith at every opportunity.

There then followed a candid discussion between the two, with Hingley primarily questioning Fletcher on his book and quite how The Smiths came to be so influential.

Fletcher was adamant that it was simply a case of being in the right place at the right time.

The Jam had just split up, record label Rough Trade were looking for a new band to sign to a long-term contract and Johnny knocked on Morrissey’s door.

Were that not to have happened then who knows what the musical landscape of Manchester would look like now.

Would Tom Hingley have been part of the Inspiral Carpets? Would Noel Gallagher have formed Oasis?

Life is full of what ifs and woulds, but fortunately we do not have to wonder what life would be like if Morrissey had not met Marr. 

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