Johnny Marr says his late Smiths bandmate Andy Rourke "reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player", in a touching tribute to his childhood friend.

The seminal musician has passed away at the age of 59, following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, with guitarist Johnny confirming the sad news on Friday (19.05.23).

And Johnny said it was an "absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold" witnessing his close pal rock the bass over the years.

He began his tribute on Instagram: "Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975. We were best friends, going everywhere together. When we were fifteen I moved into his house with him and his three brothers and I soon came to realise that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like.

"Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be. Back then Andy was a guitar player and a good one at that, but it was when he picked up the bass that he would find his true calling and his singular talent would flourish.

"Throughout our teens we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our reputations with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player."

He continued: "I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session. Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold. But one time which always comes to mind was when I sat next to him at the mixing desk watching him play his bass on the song The Queen Is Dead. It was so impressive that I said to myself ‘I’ll never forget this moment.’"

The last time Andy performed onstage was with Johnny, 55, at Madison Square Garden in September 2022, when they reunited to perform the Smiths' classics 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' and 'How Soon Is Now?'

Johnny continued: "We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Maddison Square Garden in September 2022.

It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.

"Andy will always be remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music. (sic)"

Johnny signed off: "Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother.

Johnny x."