Passings: Joe Moss, Manager of the Smiths & Johnny Marr

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Joe Moss, the manager of The Smiths and Johnny Marr, has died at the age of 72.

In a statement Marr said, “Joe was a one off, an amazing person and totally unique,” says Johnny Marr. “He started looking after me when I was seventeen; it was Joe who put the idea in my head to go and knock on Morrissey’s door. He invested his time and money in us when no one else wanted to know, and his belief in us kept us going. Without him there wouldn’t have been any Smiths. He was an original beatnik and a true bohemian, respected by all. Everyone who met him loved him; he can never be replaced.”

The biography at Marr’s site summarized Moss’s achievement. “Joe Moss was already a legend in Manchester by the start of the 1980s, which is when he and Johnny Marr first met: a patron of the famed Twisted Wheel, and an instigator of the pioneering store Eighth Day, Moss had turned his love of street fashion into Crazy Face, an influential clothing line with a store in the City’s Chapel Walks. Marr worked in the clothes shop next door, and at the age of seventeen, introduced himself to Moss as a “frustrated musician”; the pair quickly became close friends, with Marr moving in to the Moss household and placed in charge of a new Crazy Face store underneath the label’s Portland Street headquarters. Moss mentored and encouraged Marr’s musical ambitions, and when The Smiths came together, he supplied the group with space at Portland Street to rehearse at, and a PA for them to play through; he bought them a van, guided the group through their first shows, secured record contracts for the UK and America, publishing and agency deals, and helped hire a dedicated crew. He left the group unexpectedly in late 1983, while This Charming Man was riding high in the charts and with their debut LP completed, on the eve of The Smiths’ first trip to America”.

Joe Moss died from cancer. He is survived by his wife Sarah and his children David, Rachael, Ivan, Stella and Edie.

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