Interview with the Fifth Smith, Craig Gannon - C-86 Show

The ever good C-86 show hosted by David Eastaugh interviews Craig Gannon. Interesting bit about how Morrissey and Marr had been thinking of adding a second guitarist after watching Easterhouse. Interview with Craig Gannon C-86 Show


Description:

Craig Gannon in conversation with David Eastaugh

Gannon had played in bands with friends since he was 12 years old, and in 1983 joined Aztec Camera after replying to an ad in Melody Maker. In 1984 he briefly joined The Colourfield, and went on to join The Bluebells.

After another brief stint in The Colourfield, when bass player Andy Rourke was fired from The Smiths in early 1986, Gannon was hired to replace him. Within a fortnight, however, Rourke was reinstated and Gannon moved to rhythm guitar becoming the official fifth member, playing on the "Panic" and "Ask" singles and touring the UK, Canada and the US with the band. Gannon also played on the scrapped single "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby", which was included on The World Won't Listen compilation album. After the tour ended in October 1986, Gannon was no longer part of the line-up. Gannon has been affectionately known thereafter as "the Fifth Smith".
 
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Anonymous

Guest
As a live group, the Smiths were absolute dynamite with the addition of Gannon, and you can hear from that final gig how much thinner the sound is without him. It's a shame they didn't click on a personal basis, but if 'Rank' is anything to by, they should have at least kept him on for live gigs. The fact that they didn't is one reason why I don't feel such a sense of regret at their break up, listening to their last concert. Morrissey went on to do intermittently good stuff, and as a live band they were no longer doing justice to their material as a four-piece.
 

Surface

Vegan Cro’s parents regret the condom splitting
As a live group, the Smiths were absolute dynamite with the addition of Gannon, and you can hear from that final gig how much thinner the sound is without him. It's a shame they didn't click on a personal basis, but if 'Rank' is anything to by, they should have at least kept him on for live gigs. The fact that they didn't is one reason why I don't feel such a sense of regret at their break up, listening to their last concert. Morrissey went on to do intermittently good stuff, and as a live band they were no longer doing justice to their material as a four-piece.
Agree, I saw them without and with Gannon and the sound was a bit light before him as Johnny obviously couldn't play both the rhythm and lead parts of the songs, with Gannon the sound was immense and more similar to what you heard on the records.
 
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pandaproducts

Active Member
As a live group, the Smiths were absolute dynamite with the addition of Gannon, and you can hear from that final gig how much thinner the sound is without him. It's a shame they didn't click on a personal basis, but if 'Rank' is anything to by, they should have at least kept him on for live gigs. The fact that they didn't is one reason why I don't feel such a sense of regret at their break up, listening to their last concert. Morrissey went on to do intermittently good stuff, and as a live band they were no longer doing justice to their material as a four-piece.
One can't help but wonder what could've been, although.
 

Ketamine Sun

<><><><><><><>
Eventually, the Smiths would have needed to get a keyboardist, as Morrissey does now.

Though having a rhythm guitarist so Johnny can expand with his playing was inevitable, there’s something to say for the rawness of those pre-Gannon shows
where Johnny had to push himself more.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Morrissey said yes to having a second guitarist only to please Johnny, since Marr took on so much managerial duties.
 

NealCassidy

FREE SPEECH
Why was Rourke fired
 

Verso

Well-Known Member
Eventually, the Smiths would have needed to get a keyboardist, as Morrissey does now.

Though having a rhythm guitarist so Johnny can expand with his playing was inevitable, there’s something to say for the rawness of those pre-Gannon shows
where Johnny had to push himself more.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Morrissey said yes to having a second guitarist only to please Johnny, since Marr took on so much managerial duties.
It's funny, I've actually never really liked Rank and I find a lot of the '86 shows to sound a little bloated and unfocused. The bootleg I've probably listened to most over the years is Same Day Again, Oxford 1985. They're as lean as ever, but the repertoire is superior to their earlier shows.
 

Radis Noir

Fear of a Black Radish
I thought it was for being off his head on heroin so they brought Craig in to play bass. When Andy returned Craig stayed on as the 2nd guitarist.
What I've never understood about that story is that so far as I can find out, Gannon has never played bass with any other group/artist. It makes no sense to me that they would bring in a non-bass player to play bass, especially considering Rourke's outstanding technical proficiency (heroin notwithstanding.)
 

Surface

Vegan Cro’s parents regret the condom splitting
What I've never understood about that story is that so far as I can find out, Gannon has never played bass with any other group/artist. It makes no sense to me that they would bring in a non-bass player to play bass, especially considering Rourke's outstanding technical proficiency (heroin notwithstanding.)
Yes its an odd one and I agree there is no way a novice bass player could play the bass like Andy.
 

Whizz Kid

Active Member
What I've never understood about that story is that so far as I can find out, Gannon has never played bass with any other group/artist. It makes no sense to me that they would bring in a non-bass player to play bass, especially considering Rourke's outstanding technical proficiency (heroin notwithstanding.)
Bass player Guy Pratt who Johnny met on the Bryan Ferry session was in the picture briefly before Andy got his visa to tour the US.
 
R

Roger That

Guest
No one with a sense of what’s happening could ever expect Johnny Marr to play all of the brilliant, layered jangle he wrote for the recordings. They needed that extra guitar for live shows. The man only has two hands.
 
R

Roger Moore

Guest
Eventually, the Smiths would have needed to get a keyboardist, as Morrissey does now.

Though having a rhythm guitarist so Johnny can expand with his playing was inevitable, there’s something to say for the rawness of those pre-Gannon shows
where Johnny had to push himself more.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Morrissey said yes to having a second guitarist only to please Johnny, since Marr took on so much managerial duties.
“Morrissey said yes...”

You've obviously never been in a band, worked with a band or had a minutia worth of grasp on how it works. Morrissey was no part of it. ...other than the fact that his alcoholism didn’t match with Andy’s other habit - at the time. The people who wrote the music ALL thought it was right to have Craig, after Andy came back. Morrissey just didn’t like him. ...or anyone else in the band - at that point. Morrissey only likes his Mum and the other sycophants who bought into his wallowing, man-child bullshit. ;)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Morrissey's musical ignorance is unfortunately exposed in 'Autobiography', when he says he couldn't hear any difference when Craig was in the band. Just stick on some headphones and listen to 'Rank', where Marr is panned on one side, and Gannon the other, and the guy is clearly killing it, and providing a great platform to allow Johnny to wander off and play other things.

Maybe he was a personality mismatch, didn't fit in the band in other respects, or was even a complete asshole at the time - but it really baffles me that after a lifetime making music, Morrissey just can't seem to hear what he added to the Smiths in a live setting.
 
I still prefer live Smiths without Gannon, as I like hearing distinctly what Johnny Marr is playing. I'm not into the smiths for a beefed up rocking immersion, I'm into them for the dynamic between Marr's guitar playing and Morrissey's voice (and also the way the bass interacts with Marr's riffs is fantastic.)

Gannon's guitar muddies things up too much. I want to hear Marr's amazing fingers as clear as possible.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Eventually, the Smiths would have needed to get a keyboardist, as Morrissey does now.
This is really speculative territory, but given Marr's musical tastes immediately after the Smiths split, had the band stayed together as a 5 piece for anther album or two, I can actually imagine a scenario where Marr himself shifted over to keyboards, with Gannon staying as the sole live guitarist.

It's kind of nuts to think about, but I remember interviews at the time of that first Electronic album, where even Marr's minimal guitar playing seems to have been forced out of him by Bernard Sumner. There was a period during the late 90's/early 2000's when Johnny seemed to fall out of love with the guitar completely. Ironically, had it happened, I suspect any post 'Strangeways' material would have sounded not unlike some of the stuff on 'I Am Not a Dog On a Chain'. Weird to think about.
 

Surface

Vegan Cro’s parents regret the condom splitting
I still prefer live Smiths without Gannon, as I like hearing distinctly what Johnny Marr is playing. I'm not into the smiths for a beefed up rocking immersion, I'm into them for the dynamic between Marr's guitar playing and Morrissey's voice (and also the way the bass interacts with Marr's riffs is fantastic.)

Gannon's guitar muddies things up too much. I want to hear Marr's amazing fingers as clear as possible.
Are you talking about at a gig or on record. Reason I ask or that in my opinion, even with Craig on 2nd guitar, Marrs intricate playing could be clearly heard at a gig
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
There was a period during the late 90's/early 2000's when Johnny seemed to fall out of love with the guitar completely.
He was feeling the pressure of being expected to come up with another 'William, It Was Really Nothing' or 'How Soon Is Now' and knew he couldn't do it without John Porter. As always with Marr, as a master of spin, he anticipated the press angle and spun it his own way. Rather than just being a 'jingle-jangle' indie guitarist, he claimed that he felt restricted by that style and needed to expand and experiment, and the next step from that, when he saw that electronic dance music was about to make indie guitar music yesterday's news, was to claim he was bored with the guitar and wanted to experiment with keyboards. But the thing is, Marr was and basically is, a 'jingle-jangle' indie guitarist - that's his specialty, those arpeggio chord melodies. He's the best in his field, by a country mile, but it's what he is nevertheless, and it was only when working with Porter that he was able to really go beyond his own limitations. Porter built up layers of harmonies and stitched together separate riffs and takes until he had virtually composed a new piece of music himself - especially in the case of 'How Soon Is Now'. Critics were distracted from how relatively simple the music and production on the 'Meat is Murder' and 'The Queen is Dead' albums were because the songs were so good, but by 'Strangeways' Marr was, I think, conscious of his limitations, wary of repeating himself and wary of being accused of repeating himself, of being 'sussed', and so 'experimental' became the watchword. And again, ever the masters of spin, both Morrissey and Marr still insist that 'Strangeways' was a triumph because they don't want to give fuel to the idea that The Smiths ended on a damp squib. But in truth it's not a triumph. It highlighted Marr's musical limitations - like a serious dramatic actor trying and failing to do comedy in order to avoid typecasting. As for Electronic, rather than being at the forefront of early nineties dance music, they were huffing and puffing to keep up and, by the belated second album, were already hedging their bets, and putting more traditional guitar tunes on the album alongside the dance stuff. But listen to 'For You' on that album - a clear attempt to come up with another iconic 'This Charming Man'-ish hook, and then compare those two recordings. 'For You' is crude and simplistic (I'm talking just about the musical backing track, never mind the vocal and lyric) compared to the Porter-produced 'This Charming Man'. Marr was adopting a 'quit before you overstay your welcome' mentality towards guitar in the early 90s, and when he eventually resumed making guitar heavy records, he spent years 'avoiding' his style, because he didn't want to be found wanting. He has always claimed too much credit for the music of The Smiths. He was a co-creator of the music and backing melodies, alongside Porter (where Porter was involved) and almost always Rourke.
 

ACTON

Don't Leave Us In The Dark
Eventually, the Smiths would have needed to get a keyboardist, as Morrissey does now.

Though having a rhythm guitarist so Johnny can expand with his playing was inevitable, there’s something to say for the rawness of those pre-Gannon shows
where Johnny had to push himself more.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Morrissey said yes to having a second guitarist only to please Johnny, since Marr took on so much managerial duties.
Plus Craig was pleasing to the eye. That might not have hurt. He looked like he belonged in a gang. In The Smiths. They should have kept him. They shouldn't have broken up. They should have taken 6 months holidays (separately). Marr needed a break from the pressure and Moz's ridiculous hissy fits (refusing to go to video shoots, refusing Wogan, being a control freak, etc.). That's not a dig at Moz. He is who he is and won't change. But a break to clear the heads would have helped.
 

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