Why Did The Smiths Break Up

The breakup of the legendary British band, The Smiths, is a topic that continues to intrigue fans and music enthusiasts alike. With their unique blend of poetic lyrics and jangly guitar riffs, The Smiths captured the hearts of many during their brief but impactful time together. However, their sudden split in 1987 left fans devastated and wondering what could have led to such a premature end.

Delving into the depths of the band’s history and examining the motivations of its key members, this article seeks to unravel the mystery behind why The Smiths broke up, shedding light on the various factors that contributed to their ultimate demise.

The Real Reason The Smiths Broke Up

Imagine yourself amid the Smiths’ final days, where tensions and creative differences reached a breaking point, ultimately leading to their heartbreaking dissolution. The real reason behind the Smiths’ breakup can be a combination of creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disputes, lack of communication, and ego clashes.

Creative differences played a significant role in the unraveling of the band. Johnny Marr, the band’s guitarist, and Morrissey, the lead singer, had contrasting musical visions and approaches. Marr wanted to experiment and push the boundaries of the band’s sound, while Morrissey preferred to stick to the band’s signature jangly guitar-driven style. These opposing ideas led to frustration and discord within the group as they struggled to find common ground and compromise on the direction of their music.

Personal conflicts also contributed to the Smiths’ demise. Morrissey and Marr had a strained relationship, often clashing over various issues within and outside the band. Their differing personalities and strong-willed nature resulted in frequent arguments and a communication breakdown, causing further rifts within the group. These personal conflicts created a toxic atmosphere, making it increasingly difficult for the band to function cohesively.

Financial disputes further strained the band’s unity. The Smiths achieved considerable commercial success, but their financial arrangements became a source of contention. Disagreements over royalty splits, management decisions, and financial control led to resentment and mistrust between the band members. These monetary disputes added additional strain to an already fragile dynamic, further fueling the growing tensions within the group.

Lack of communication exacerbated the existing issues within the band. As tensions escalated, the members of the Smiths struggled to communicate and address their concerns effectively. This communication breakdown prevented them from finding productive solutions to their disagreements and deepened the divide between them.

Ego clashes were also instrumental in the breakup of the Smiths. Each member had a strong sense of individuality and a desire to assert their creative vision. This clash of egos made it increasingly difficult for compromises to be reached and for the band to continue functioning as a unified entity.

To sum up, The Smiths’ breakup can be attributed to a combination of creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disputes, lack of communication, and ego clashes. These factors created an insurmountable divide within the band, ultimately leading to their heartbreaking dissolution. Despite their untimely end, the Smiths’ impact on music and pop culture remains undeniable, as their music resonates with audiences decades later.

Johnny Marr and Morrissey ‘just saw [their] futures differently’

Despite their contrasting visions for the future, Johnny Marr and Morrissey’s musical partnership ultimately reached its breaking point, leading to the disbandment of their iconic band. Marr’s assertion that he and Morrissey simply saw their futures differently speaks to the underlying tension that had been building within the Smiths.

While the miscommunication surrounding Marr’s departure played a role, it was the culmination of various factors, including creative differences, personal conflicts, and differing visions for the band’s artistic direction, that ultimately drove them apart.

Marr’s mention of the breakdown of harmonious cogs in a machine paints a vivid picture of the disintegration of their partnership. It is common for bands, and relationships in general, to encounter rough patches. However, the Smiths’ situation was exacerbated by their divergent aspirations. Marr’s desire to explore new musical territories clashed with Morrissey’s steadfast commitment to the band’s distinctive sound and image. These conflicting visions created a tension that became increasingly difficult to reconcile.

Furthermore, personal conflicts and clashing personalities further strained their relationship. While diversity can be beneficial during good times, it can become a hindrance when faced with adversity. The band members’ temperaments and differing approaches to handling challenges likely exacerbated the already strained dynamics within the group. As Marr and Morrissey’s future prospects diverged, the once-unbreakable bond that had fueled the Smiths’ success began to unravel.

The breakup of the Smiths was not solely due to miscommunication but rather a culmination of differing visions, creative differences, personal conflicts, and diverging future prospects. Marr and Morrissey’s musical partnership had simply reached its breaking point, and their once-harmonious collaboration was no longer sustainable.

The disbandment of the Smiths remains a defining moment in music history, reminding us of the complex dynamics that can shape the fate of even the most iconic bands.

Marr didn’t want to manage a dying, ‘unmanageable’ band

Marr’s reluctance to take on the manager role stemmed from his realization that he didn’t want to be responsible for overseeing the decline of a band that had already gained a reputation for being difficult to manage. As the unofficial manager of the Smiths for most of their existence, Marr had already experienced the frustrations of managing the band dynamics.

The Smiths were known for their creative differences and constant clashes, which often resulted in conflicts with their managers. Marr saw firsthand how these management conflicts affected the band’s morale and creativity. Moreover, Marr could see that the Smiths’ declining popularity was taking a toll on the band. They had fired multiple managers in the past, which only added to their reputation as an ‘unmanageable’ group.

Marr understood that the role of a manager was crucial in navigating the challenges a band faced, but he didn’t want to be the one steering the ship as it sank. The pressure of managing a band that was already facing internal conflicts and external criticism was too much for him to bear.

Ultimately, Marr’s frustration with the band dynamics and his reluctance to manage a declining group led to his decision to leave the Smiths. He didn’t want to be responsible for overseeing the downfall of a band he had poured his heart and soul into. Although the band’s cheeky comment about considering ‘other guitarists’ hurt him initially, Marr now understands their perspective and holds no grudges. It was a brutal and callous decision, but one that he made to protect his own sanity and creative spirit.

The Various Reasons That Led To The Split

You may be surprised to learn about the multiple factors that ultimately led to the heartbreaking split of one of the most influential bands in history.

The Smiths’ breakup was not solely attributed to one reason but rather a combination of creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disputes, lack of communication, and burnout and exhaustion.

First and foremost, creative differences played a significant role in the demise of The Smiths. Marr grew frustrated with Morrissey’s lack of musical flexibility, particularly his fixation on covering 1960s pop artists. Marr’s collaboration with other artists also irked Morrissey, leading to tension within the band. The final straw for Marr was when they performed a cover of Cilla Black’s track, which he saw as a departure from the band’s original vision. It became evident that their musical directions were no longer aligned, causing irreparable damage to their partnership.

Personal conflicts and clashes with managers further strained the band’s cohesion. Morrissey had a contentious relationship with several managers, leaving the position constantly vacant. Marr eventually took on the role, adding to his already overwhelming workload and pressure.

Additionally, Marr’s excessive drug and alcohol use and the demanding nature of their lifestyle contributed to his burnout and exhaustion. The relentless touring and constant pressure took a toll on Marr, leading him to question his commitment to the band.

The breakup of The Smiths resulted from many factors, such as creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disputes, lack of communication, and burnout and exhaustion, all played a role in the band’s ultimate split.

It serves as a reminder that even the most iconic and influential bands can succumb to the pressures and challenges of the music industry.

Why Morrissey’s downfall echoes the messy demise of The Smiths

The parallels between Morrissey’s downfall and the chaotic end of The Smiths can be seen in the unraveling of their careers and the controversies that surrounded both. As the lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey was the driving force behind their success. His distinctive voice and introspective lyrics resonated with a generation, catapulting the band to fame.

Similarly, Morrissey achieved considerable success in his solo career with his unique style and outspoken personality. However, both The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo career were plagued by creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disagreements, and a lack of communication.

In The Smiths, the creative tension between Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr was both the band’s strength and downfall. While their collaboration resulted in brilliant music, their artistic differences eventually led to their demise. Similarly, Morrissey’s solo career faced numerous challenges due to his controversial statements and political views. These controversies alienated many fans and tarnished his reputation as a respected artist.

Personal conflicts within the band and Morrissey’s solo career further contributed to their downfall. In The Smiths, clashes between band members, particularly between Morrissey and drummer Mike Joyce, created a toxic environment that ultimately led to their breakup. Similarly, Morrissey’s solo career was marred by personal conflicts with band members and management, further exacerbating the tensions within the group.

Financial disagreements also played a significant role in the demise of both The Smiths’ and Morrissey’s solo careers. In The Smiths, disputes over royalties and financial arrangements strained the band’s unity and trust. Likewise, Morrissey’s solo career faced financial challenges, with lawsuits and disputes over contracts and royalties.

Furthermore, lacking communication exacerbated the issues within The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo career. In both instances, misunderstandings and miscommunication between band members and management hindered the resolution of conflicts and further deepened the divides within the group.

The similarities between Morrissey’s downfall and The Smiths’ messy demise can be attributed to a combination of creative differences, personal conflicts, financial disagreements, and a lack of communication. These factors ultimately led to the unraveling of their careers and the controversies surrounding them. As Morrissey prepares to release his 13th solo album, the echoes of The Smiths’ downfall remind him of the challenges he’s faced and its impact on his legacy as a mass-market entertainer.


In conclusion, The Smiths’ breakup resulted from Johnny Marr and Morrissey’s diverging visions for the future. While Marr wanted to explore new musical territories and avoid the burdensome task of managing a declining band, Morrissey was determined to hold on to the band’s fading glory. This clash of perspectives ultimately led to the band’s demise.

Undeniably, The Smiths were a groundbreaking and influential band, but their breakup was inevitable, given the circumstances. Marr’s decision to walk away from the band was not an easy one, but it was a necessary step for him to pursue his own artistic endeavors. Likewise, Morrissey’s refusal to let go of the past and adapt to the changing music landscape further exacerbated the band’s tensions.

The breakup of The Smiths was not just another band falling apart; it was a sad event in the music industry. The impact of their split can still be felt today, with fans and critics alike mourning the loss of their unique sound and lyrical genius. The Smiths were not just a band, they were a movement, and their breakup marked the end of an era.

In the end, the breakup of The Smiths serves as a cautionary tale for bands and artists alike. It’s a reminder that success and creativity aren’t always sustainable and that sometimes it’s necessary to let go and move on. The Smiths may be gone, but their legacy will forever live on, a testament to their passion, knowledge, and analytical approach to music.

John Godfrey

John Godfrey is a music fanatic, as well as the owner of Songpier.com which provides music guides. In high school, he learned how to play the drums which inspired him to learn about rock music. He began to write articles for various music magazines and during this period he realized he had a passion for writing music descriptions. He has a Master's degree in music education from the University of Redlands.