Pop star George Michael sent fans of The Smiths into a spin by insisting a long-awaited reunion is on its way, but he has now confessed he was joking. The former Wham! star was asked in an interview published over the weekend (09-10Aug14) to reveal a secret and he replied, "The Smiths are reforming."
The comment, published by British newspaper The Guardian, sent fans of the band into meltdown because reunion rumours have been building for years despite repeated denials by the group's founders Morrissey and Johnny Marr.
However, the Careless Whisper hitmaker has now quashed the speculation by admitting his remark was made in jest.
A representative for the star tells WENN, "It was just a bit of fun, so not true."
Rocker Billy Bragg is celebrating after successfully campaigning to overturn a ban on steel-strung guitars in U.K. prisons. Bragg joined forces with fellow rockers Johnny Marr, Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Philip Selway, and Guy Garvey from Elbow earlier this year (14) as part of an initiative to urge officials to rethink the ruling, which was passed last November (13) as part of the government's changes to the judicial system, which also included new restrictions on books for prisoners.
In an open letter published in April (14), Bragg's all-star group argued that music had "an important role to play in engaging prisoners in the process of rehabilitation", adding, "This ability will be seriously undermined if inmates are unable to practise between group sessions."
Government officials have since agreed to reverse the ban and allow steel-strung guitars back in detention centres and Bragg, who founded the Jail Guitar Doors rehabilitation initiative to provide instruments for inmates, is glad authorities have seen sense.
He says, "As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation, individual access to steel strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing. I've had a number of projects involving guitars on hold which now will be able to go ahead, and will allow those using music in prisons to get on with this important work."
"OK, Let's get the guitars out." Former The Smiths star Johnny Marr has suggested he and pal Noel Gallagher are planning to record a Manchester City victory anthem after watching their favourite soccer team clinch the English Premier League trophy on Sunday (11May14). Marr posted a photo of the two rockers at Sunday's 2-0 victory over West Ham United in Twitter.com.
Guitarist Johnny Marr is recording a new solo album despite breaking his hand in a fall last month (Mar14). He is laying down vocal tracks and working with his backing band, and he hopes to release the album in September (14).
Rockers included Billy Bragg and Johnny Marr are urging British politicians to reconsider a ban on steel-strung guitars in U.K. prisons. The instruments were outlawed in jails in November (13) as part of the government's changes to the justice system, which also includes new restrictions on books for prisoners.
Nylon-strung guitars are still permitted in prisons for inmates who earn the privilege of using them.
In an open letter published in Britain's The Guardian newspaper the group of musicians, which also includes Dave Gilmour and Richard Hawley, urge Justice Minister Chris Grayling to overturn the ban.
The rockers write, "As musicians, we are concerned to hear that the use of steel-strung guitars is being prohibited in prisons. We believe music has an important role to play in engaging prisoners in the process of rehabilitation. However, this ability will be seriously undermined if inmates are unable to practise between group sessions."
The letter goes on to note a rise in self-inflicted injuries among prisoners since October (13) and questions whether the ban on steel-strung guitars and books may be partly responsible.
The group closes the letter writing, "We urge the minister for justice, Chris Grayling, to urgently look into the causes of the rise in self-inflicted deaths in prison since the introduction of the recent prison service instruction and to explain why steel-strung guitars have been singled out for exclusion."
Longtime The Smiths and Morrissey photographer Kevin Cummins is attempting to achieve a feat no one has ever managed - bringing the band back together for one night only, as part of a new gallery exhibition. The London-based snapper, who has documented the band's success and Morrissey's solo career over the past three decades, is staging his first U.S. solo exhibition of photos at Mr. Musichead gallery in Los Angeles from 30 April (14), as part of the city's annual Brit Week festivities.
But he fears his Moz Goes to Hollywood: Photographs of Morrissey & The Smiths show will be fans' only chance to see the iconic rocker and his former band together - because any thoughts of a reunion have been dismissed.
Cummins tells WENN, "I don't think, apart from financially, they've got anything to gain from it. If you've read Morrissey's biography, I don't think there's much room for manoeuvre there.
"I just can't see it happening. I guess they've probably thought about it and there's a lot of stumbling blocks. There's too many problems, there's too many obstacles in the way. I felt the same about the Stone Roses, but the Stone Roses haven't spent years in court slagging each other off."
The group's legacy was tested in the mid-1990s when bandmates Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke took Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr to court, claiming they were entitled to a more generous share of the group's royalties.
Rourke settled, but drummer Joyce continued with the action, which eventually reached England's High Court of Justice in December 1996, when a judge found in his favour and awarded him a $1.6 million (£1 million) payout and 25 per cent of royalties going forward.
The legal spat continued into the new century when Joyce obtained a default judgement against Morrissey after the singer failed to make a final payment to the drummer.
As a result the outstanding claim was increased.
Morrissey has since estimated that Joyce's royalties grab has cost him more than $2.4 million (£1.5 million) in recovered royalties and legal fees.
The group has often been at the centre of reunion chatter, but Morrissey has always been insistent there will never be a get together.
In 2006, he said, "I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian."
The Smiths split in 1987.
Cummins' new exhibition at Mr. Musichead will run until 15 May (14).
Former The Smiths stars Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce are re-teaming for a DJ tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band's debut album. The pair remained friends after the group's split in 1987 and they famously sued bandmates Morrissey and Johnny Marr in the 1990s for an increased share of royalties.
Both musicians also work as professional DJs, and they have announced they will reunite later this year (14) for a series of shows marking the release of the British band's self-titled first album in 1984.
The DJ tour runs in the U.K. from 3-25 October (14).
Rocker Johnny Marr's upcoming tour dates have been thrown into jeopardy following news the former The Smiths star has broken his right hand while running in London. The guitarist reveals the accident occurred last week (ends07Mar14), and now he's hoping to make a speedy recovery so he can play through the pain and honour the concert commitments he has lined up for later this month (Mar14).
A statement issued to NME.com reads: "I was running pretty fast and just went straight over. I banged my shoulder and then realised my hand was in a bad way. Obviously we're hoping there's no long term damage.
"The plan is to do the Leeds Brudenell shows (in England) on March 24 and 25 and then the dates I have in South America, as long as I can play the guitar, when the plaster comes off.
"Usually that would be after six weeks but I'm hoping it will be OK. It's a bit up in the air at this point."
Marr admits he has a B-plan to play through the pain on tour: "I may have to start drinking heavily."
The Smiths stars Morrissey and Johnny Marr were once detained by officials and accused of inciting a riot following an explosive gig in Canada. The British band caused frenzied scenes when they played a show in Toronto on their 1985 tour, and the concert culminated in frontman Morrissey provoking a mass stage invasion.
It has now emerged the incident had repercussions for the rockers - they were held by local officials after the show amid allegations they had encouraged fans at the Kingswood Theatre to riot.
Photographer Chris Buck, who was at the gig, writes, "The show was fantastic - he invited everyone to get up and dance (strictly forbidden), and I managed to get up on stage with the crowd by the end. Years later Johnny Marr told me with glee that the band was detained after the show for 'Inciting Riot'."
Blondie are to be honoured with the Godlike Genius Award at this year's NME Awards. Debbie Harry and her bandmates will pick up the award in person and also perform at the NME Awards 2014 at the O2 Academy in London on 26 February (14).
Harry says, "It's out of proportion, but it's nice to be recognised. It's outstanding, really... I also find it particularly interesting that there aren't many Americans who've been given this award before, so that's flattering."
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame act is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Previous recipients of NME's Godlike Genius Award include The Clash, Paul Weller, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, New Order & Joy Division, Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher. Former The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr won it last year (13).