The death of Mark E Smith, irascible frontman of post-punk band The Fall since 1976 and the band’s only constant member, at the age of 60 is a tragic loss to the music world.
It’s also a crying shame for interviewers, Smith being every bit as funny and acerbic in conversation as he was in his songwriting.
In an interview with Robert Chalmers for The Independent in 2011, Smith was on rare form, listing “Soft lads who blab” among things he hated, along with Manchester United, red wine, Australia, Brighton, the NYPD and many more.
Gloriously cantankerous to the last, Mark E Smith was particularly adept at cooking up withering insults.
Riley’s relationship with Smith was particularly fraught, even by Fall standards.
Amazingly vehement on the latter subject, Smith asked The Manchester Evening News in 2014: “Who decided it was time to start liking her again?… I never even liked her the first time round. It’s like all these radio DJs have been raiding their mam’s and dad’s record collections and decided that Kate Bush is suddenly cool again. But I’m not having it.”
A truly underrated wordsmith as well as a great British eccentric, Mark E. Smith was a tremendously well-read man and a fan of authors as diverse as Philip K. Dick, Hunter S. Thompson and Arthur Machen.