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Did the Smiths Really Turn Down a $75 Million Reunion Offer?

Johnny Marr
Simone Joyner, Getty Images

The Smiths are a rare band who greatly influenced music during their brief career. The indie pop icons were officially together for just five short years, from 1982-87. Guitarist Johnny Marr recently decided to revisit the past and remaster the Smiths’ archive. But is it true that he once turned down a lucrative offer to take part in an even bigger nostalgia trip — getting back together with the band for a lengthy world tour?

It’s been 25 years since the Smiths released their last studio album, ‘Strangeways, Here We Come.’ Marr has never been shy about sharing his opinion that the initial Smiths’ CDs were a tad inferior to their vinyl record counterparts. The guitarist took it upon himself to take the original masters to a studio and clean them up.

“It was more of a restoration rather than remastering, as such,” Marr explained to Rolling Stone. “I knew there was a lot of music hiding in there.” Rhino Records has just released all eight remastered Smiths CDs, including the first U.S. disc release of the band’s 1987 U.K. compilation, ‘The World Won’t Listen.’

The Smiths disbanded in 1987 due to tension within the group, specifically between Marr and frontman Morrissey. The singer has stated in previous interviews that Marr was the only member who wanted things to end, to which Marr responds:

“Yes, but … I was the lookout saying, ‘Rocks ahead! Rocks ahead!’ I had the foresight to see disaster looming – both for the individuals, personally, and the band, professionally. I had a lot of insight and wisdom for a 23-year-old.”

Marr says he doesn’t know what the chances are for a Smiths reunion, but he does realize that it would make a lot of fans happy. There were rumors in August of 2007 that Morrissey declined a $75 million offer to reunite with Marr and embark on a global tour as the Smiths (with no mention of bassist Andrew Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce being included in that deal). Marr says he heard the rumors but was never officially approached.

“I have heard that – a few times,” Marr says. “No official offer was ever made to me…But I did hear that, yeah. Nothing really gets off the ground just purely because of money. Certainly, as I see it, so many other things would have to be fixed and we’re just too different to get them fixed, it appears.”

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