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Passings: Mark E. Smith of the Fall (1957 - 2018)

by VVN Music

Mark E. Smith, the frontman for the British post-punk group The Fall, died on Wednesday (January 24) at the age of 60.

Pam Van Damned, the manager of the band, said in a statement:

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith. He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days. In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.

Smith was born in Broughton, Lancashire, England in 1957 and moved to nearby Prestwich while still a child.

It was there that he formed The Fall in 1976 with friends Martin Bramah, Una Baines and Tony Friel. It was after the four saw The Sex Pistols in Manchester that they decided they wanted to pursue music and, on May 23, 1977, they played their first show.

Known for their raw sound, they caught the attention of the Buzzcocks' manager Richard Boon who paid for the recording of their first EP, Bingo-Master's Break-Out; however, Boon couldn't afford to release the disc and The Fall's actual recording debut came with two tracks on Virgin Records' Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus.

Over the years, the band went through over three dozen members with changes starting as early as 1978. The original lineup was only heard on Bingo-Master's Break-Out when it was finally released in that year and, when their first full-length LP was released, Live at the Witch Trials (1979), only Smith and Bramah remained. Sixth months later, when their second album, Dragnet (1979) was released, Smith was the only original member left.

Smith and the various lineups of The Fall were amazingly prolific, releasing 32 studio albums and an equal number of live sets along with 13 EPs. Their best charting was 1993's The Infotainment Scan which peaked at number 9 in the U.K.

In 2004, Smith broke his hip but insisted on continuing a tour of the U.S., performing in a wheelchair.  Four years later, he released his memoir, Renegade: The Gospel According to Mark E. Smith.

Although there are no details, it is known that Smith had been ill for some time, cancelling a tour last year due to a "bizarre and rare medical issues… connected to his throat, mouth/dental & respiratory system”.