Meetings with Johnny MarrFan accounts of the day they first met Johnny, in their own words.
Location of meeting: BBC TV Centre, White City, London
Date of meeting: 25/1/1984
Me, 15 years old. Best friend Emma 17 years old and therefore really grown up! I had seen The Smiths live 3 times, and was quite taken with Johnny Marr with his 60's look, unique tunes and jangly guitar. Somehow, Emma managed to coax a producer at Top of the Pops to let us in and watch a rehearsal when The Smiths were performing What Difference Does it Make? I bunked off school and double French (shame!) and headed to West London with the biggest Valentine's card I could carry, for Johnny. After a false start at the Security gate, we got in and went to the studio. Madonna was rehearsing miming to 'Holiday'. Then The Smiths were rehearsing WDDIM. We watched, and when they came off stage, I took and deep breath and shuffled over to Johnny, red faced and nervous, and thrust the Valentine's card at him, then scuttled away! He came over to me, Emma & her sister Tish and then the other band members, including Morrissey, came over and started chatting. We ended up going to the unglamorous dressing room and taking lots of photos, then Johnny took us to the BBC canteen for a coffee. I was in 7th heaven! We didn't stay for the actual recording of TOTP, but I had had the best day ever. If you watch the TOTP performance, broadcast on 26/01/84, you just get a glimpse of some flowers in Morrissey's back pocket, a few of those were ours! But it was Johnny and his red Gretsch for me - I was hooked! From then on, school was out and The Smiths were in, many more gigs and meetings were to follow...
Location of meeting: Sydney, Australia
Date of meeting: August 1989, then January 2014
Having been a huge fan of Johnny's work in The Smiths since I was 13, in 1989 I was thrilled to hear that Johnny was touring Australia with The The. Seeing that The Smiths never toured Australia, this was very big news to many of us that had never had the opportunity to see Johnny perform live. Myself and my friend waited patiently behind the Hordern Pavillion that August afternoon in 1989 for Johnny to appear, clutching an enormous amount of Smiths albums, 12 inches and singles in the hope that he would speak to us and sign them. The van turned up, out Johnny stepped, and when he saw the two awkward teenagers in Smiths T-shirts he knew exactly who we were here to see. He came over to us, signed every single thing we had (and it was a lot!), then spoke to us for almost 20 minutes. He then invited us in to watch the soundcheck, which was an enormous honour and privilege. I don't think Matt Johnson was too happy about it, but Johnny didn't care one bit. They soundchecked 3 or 4 songs, Johnny came off the stage, asked "if we sounded OK", which of course they did, and then gave us both a guitar pick, which I still have to this day.
Fast forward 24 years to 2013 and I had undergone some major changes in my life. I had begun earlier in 2013 transitioning from male to female in order to deal with lifelong gender dysphoria, and in September of that year I had been beaten up rather badly at a local show here in Sydney which caused me to stop seeing shows altogether. Then Johnny announced he was touring here in January of 2014, and I tentatively purchased a ticket, knowing that I had to see him play again, even though I was very scared to do so. I sent Johnny a message on his Facebook page thanking him for adding Australia to his tour, and I explained my situation and how this was a big step for me to resume going to see shows (which I had been doing since I was 13) , when I unexpectedly received a reply from Johnny several days later. It read in part "Stephanie, I am truly glad that you are coming to my show. Don't be concerned as I feel you have more courage than all of those idiots who attacked and bullied you put together. The coolest thing someone can ever be is themselves. I look forward to seeing you at the show".
January arrives, I nervously go to the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney, a very nice 500 capacity venue, I get a spot right near the front of the stage, when out walks Johnny and the band, he looks down, winks and says "I'm glad you came". It is hard to describe in words what that meant to me. He then went on to perform one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. Many well known musicians talk the talk when it comes to folks like me, but Johnny well and truly walks the walk. He is pure class on and off the stage, and that small act of his gave me a boost in confidence that I have carried with me ever since. Johnny Marr truly is one of a kind.
Location of meeting: Manchester Airport
Date of meeting: Early 1990s
Barney [Sumner] and Johnny en route to New York; me and my wife en route to Cyprus. Absolute gent, signed autograph and chatted.
Location of meeting: The Troubadour, West Hollywood
Date of meeting: 3/2/2003
I had two tickets to see Johnny Marr & The Healers at the Troubadour. It was a Monday night, and getting people to go out on a Monday in LA was not always the easiest thing to do. I was an entertainment lawyer and at the time, one of my clients was the band RATT. I called RATT's guitarist, Warren DeMartini, and told him I had tickets to the show and asked if he'd like to go. I was surprised that Warren was excited to go, but more surprised that he told me he had been a fan of Johnny's since the 80's.
Anyway, we got a seat in the upper level of the Troubadour, and about mid-way through the show, I look to my left and I nudge Warren. "Isn't that Billy Duffy, from The Cult?" Warren says, "Yeah, I think it is." The show ends and I say to Warren, "go say hello to Billy". Warren says, "No, I don't know him, what am I supposed to say?" I say, "How about, 'Hi Billy, I was an 80's guitar hero, you were an 80's guitar hero, nice to meet you". Warren laughs and says no, and heads off to the bathroom. I tell him I'll meet him downstairs.
I head downstairs and found myself standing next to Billy and his girlfriend, so I introduced myself. While we're talking, he tells me that he and Johnny have been mates for forever. I tell him I remember they had a song together on one of those CD's that would come with the issues of NME. He knows exactly what I'm talking about and we have a laugh over how much time has gone by since then. I tell him that I'm here with Warren, and he laughs and says "That's so funny, I was practicing with Camp Freddy last month and I started playing the riff to 'Way Cool Junior' and the rest of the guys jumped in and had a great jam over it. Warren walks over at that point, and I introduce them and Billy tells the story again. Billy asks us if we'd like to come upstairs and tells us he'll introduce us to Johnny. I ask him if I have time to run to my car, and he says sure. Billy, his girlfriend and Warren head upstairs, and I run out to my car to grab a sharpie and the CD liner for The Queen is Dead. I head back upstairs.
After about 20 minutes and a drink or two, Johnny walks into the room and sees Billy, so he walks right over to the table. Billy introduces us all, and he sticks out his hand to introduce himself, I shake his hand and then hand the CD cover and sharpie to Johnny, and he happily obliges the autograph. Admittedly, a starstruck fanboy moment for me.
Warren tells Johnny that he's been a fan for a long time. Warren tells him that he was supposed to be on the cover of a magazine, so the night it was being delivered he headed down to the news stand on Ventura Blvd., waiting for it to arrive. While he was waiting, he saw another guitar magazine that had Johnny on the cover, so he started reading it and was impressed with what he read Johnny was doing, so he bought Meat is Murder the next day and was blown away and had been a fan since.
For the next 20 minutes, Johnny, Billy and Warren talked shop. I stood there listening, amazed to hear these three guitar greats talk about their influences, gear, technique, etc. I was so pissed I didn't have a tape recorder [it was 2003 - that was the only way to record anything then!], since I probably could have sold a transcript of the discussion to Guitar Magazine and made a small fortune!
Met a ton of celebs while living in LA, but meeting Johnny was at the top of the list.
Location of meeting: San Francisco
Date of meeting: 28/04/2003
I will always remember the first time I met Johnny Marr in April of 2003. Johnny and the Healers were playing a show at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. I was lucky to have seen Johnny with the Healers a few months before. It was a wonderful experience even though I didn't get to talk to Johnny. I was excited for the Fillmore show and another opportunity to meet him. My friend and I arrived at the Fillmore in the afternoon in hopes of catching the band before soundcheck. After several hours, Johnny's fellow Healers began arriving. I was thrilled to meet Zak Starkey, one of my all-time favorite drummers. Johnny soon arrived with Angie and the kids but I didn't think he would stop. I was surprised to see him graciously walk over and greet the two of us. Johnny talked with us for 20 minutes: I didn't want the conversation to end. I was so appreciative of Johnny's generous and friendly nature. I felt both comfortable and exhilarated being in his presence. We discussed music, touring and family like a bunch of old friends. Johnny signed our album booklets and posed for photos before leaving for soundcheck. I couldn't wait for the show to begin. Johnny and the Healers treated the Fillmore audience to an exhilarating set of music. I was mesmerized watching Johnny play guitar right in front of my eyes. When Johnny walked out after the show, he greeted me by name. I couldn't believe he had remembered. Johnny looked especially happy and excited. He said it was one of the best shows the Healers had ever played. After saying our goodbyes, Johnny and Angie walked off into the night. Ever since then, I have often flashed back to that fantastic day - one of the best days of my life. I like to tell people that Johnny is the nicest and coolest musician - and person - I have ever met.
Ten years later, Johnny returned to play the Fillmore twice in April and November of 2013. Two more amazing and magical shows I won't ever forget. I was able to reconnect with Johnny while watching dozens of other admiring fans meet him for the first time. There is a special bond between Johnny and his audience, which keeps growing stronger. Johnny remains a down-to-earth and generous musician who truly likes and respects his fans. I feel honored and privileged to have followed Johnny over all these years. Thank you for everything Johnny!
Location of meeting: London
Date of meeting: July 2011
I was talking with Johnny and some other people on Twitter around 2011, then I found out his son Nile was doing a gig in London and a dear friend of mine asked Johnny if he would be there too because as she said I was in hope of meeting him too... Bless her, she's the greatest person ever. So then I went to Nile's gig and Johnny was there, I couldn't approach or do anything really, I was so awestruck. Apparently Johnny recognised me (I guess from my profile picture as well as by being informed by my friend that I was going to be there), and that's it. It was the most surreal night of my life. Johnny talked with me for about 35-40 minutes, he introduced me to Angie as well, and I met Nile too. One of the happiest nights of my life. I love him to bits.
Location of meeting: Manchester
Date of meeting: 23/3/2013
It was March 2013 when I took a plane to Manchester, hoping I would finally get to meet my hero. I had already been talking to him online (Twitter) for a while, so he knew who I was and he knew I was coming. I was so excited. It was Friday and I was seeing him playing live for the first time, and the next day too - two days in a row, it sounded promising.
I travelled by myself, but I knew some people that were attending to the gig as well, so I got there early and hoped the wait wouldn't be too long. My friends told me stories about Johnny as they had been attending quite a few gigs from him. I was so nervous and I felt I still wasn't ready to meet him (worrying that I'd make a fool of myself, speaking a language that is not my mother tongue... the typical stuff).
Then we saw Nile, Johnny's son, helping to carry stuff here and there and my friend introduced us - I had also met Nile online but never in person, he was so sweet. He had kind Marr-eyes.
The show started, I was so fascinated by Johnny's charm, and energy, and ability to look so cool and god-like. There were some times when - I felt - he looked at me (especially this one time, in the middle of his live version of Getting Away With It, I was looking at his hands move with my mouth open) and it was like everything stopped for a second but the music... and the biggest of the smiles appeared on my face.
It was really a magical night, when the show was over I would have been really sad if I wasn't seeing him the following night again. But I was still pretty shocked from that great concert. Then Nile comes to me and gives me a setlist and one of Johnny's picks and I couldn't thank him enough for his kindness.
We got outside the building and we waited for Johnny for a while, but it looked like he wouldn't come out and it was freezing, so we went home/the hotel still buzzing.
The next night was even better that the last one, the crowd was on fire and so was Johnny. I was at the front row again, which is the right place to be, I think, if you want to feel the wizard's magic properly. When the show was over, we went outside and waited for him.
So... we waited for what seemed ages, literally, in Mancunian cold, when I finally saw a figure getting out of the building and started walking up the street, towards those who were waiting. My heart had been working hard all night, but that was the point when it had the hardest time, I think. When he was closer, he waved and kept walking. I waved back and then, suddenly, I stopped being nervous and I became totally calm. The previous day I had been feeling like I wasn't ready to meet my absolute hero, but as the minutes went by, while I was waiting in the cold, I started realizing that I needed> to see him and thank him in person for being who he is. I wanted to run towards him and give him a huge hug - but I waited, thankfully.
He walked towards us, he came to me smiling and gave me a hug; he said it was nice to meet me and he thanked me for coming. One of the great things about this man is that he makes everyone feel like their friend, and I felt really special and so, so privileged. So I told him I was so glad to meet him and thanked him for a very good show.
He said hello to everyone else - at that point there were only my friends, two other girls that also looked thrilled and me. He stayed with us for some minutes and had a chat with us. He took one of his picks out of his pocket and told me "you've already got one of these, right?" and I told him I did. I showed him the "Generate" T-shirt I had bought at the venue and he seemed glad.
We talked a bit about his plans, tours... I was fascinated, being one meter away from him, watching him speak in person; I was like inside a dream. I asked him if he was going to do a few shows around Europe and he said maybe, "if they thought he was good enough". I think all I could do at that point was a "how can they think you're not good enough?!?" face. He told me he might be going to Benicàssim, as I'm Spanish, and I told him that would be so cool (he, in fact, played there that year).
We took some photos together, he held me tight and I did too. Before letting me go, he then thanked me again for coming and that he was glad to have met me; and all I could do is say "me too" and squeeze him harder.
He stayed a few more minutes and then someone told him he had to get going. So he thanked us all for coming, he told us to keep together and then he went across the street holding his wife Angie's hand. It was so sweet.
After he left I slowly started realizing how sweet he had been, how kind it was of him to have spent some minutes with us, how privileged I felt to have been in his presence... and all these thoughts turned into tears of happiness when I was finally in my hotel bed.
Location of meeting: Portland, Oregon
Date of meeting: 16/4/2013
After seeing him play in Portland, Oregon, Johnny Marr held my hand, and I told him about my novel. I told him how he had helped me write it, and in that moment, I felt the world ahead open up in that surreal and blinding way when everything seems possible. Here's how it happened:
April 16th, 2013: The Aladdin Theater: Inside, I could hear him sound-checking "The Right Thing Right," and I lingered around back near his bus and thought about what I might say to him. Coming just six months from meeting Noel Gallagher in the same city, my brain had convinced itself that if I could meet one of my favorite people in the world, then surely one more would be no trouble. A man standing nearby, a fan, told me that Johnny had arrived not long before and told him that he was "running behind."
That's fine, I thought. No point waiting in line out front when I can hear music from this spot. Eventually, the opening band, Alamar, wandered inside for their turn, and another man (who I'd later recognize as Marr's drummer), came out to retrieve something from the bus. We all nodded hello.
Once inside, I managed to walk right up to the front of the stage. Forget the sciatica, the burgeoning head cold, and the blister on my heel that plagued my day - On this evening, my body could pretend to have the same boundless pit energy I had at sixteen. This was Johnny Fuckin Marr, and the swirling brilliance of rock 'n roll can heal all. I cheered, danced and sang my ass off during the whole gig, tiredness be damned.
Later, along with a few of the other people I'd spoken to in the crowd, I made my way to the back entrance of the building and waited once more for Johnny to arrive. I'd been preparing myself - None of this blurting out the first thing that come to mind! About three people were ahead of me once he did come outside, and I waited calmly, ready.
When it was my turn, I held out my hand. "Hi, I'm Sara," I handed him my CD and my purple Noel Gallagher-used Sharpie. "I came prepared."
He smiled. "Is that Sara with or without an H?"
My brain made various nonsensical !!!!!! thoughts. (For this is an important question to all Sara(h)s.)
"Are you from Portland, Sara?" He looked up from signing the CD, and it became very clear that when Johnny Marr is talking to a person, he is talking only to that person. No hurrying me along.
"No, I'm from Montana."
"Montana!" People are always impressed by Montana as though it's Mars.
"Yeah, I got in on the train this morning. And, I have to tell you something."
"Yeah? What's that?"
"Something you said in an interview about Rare Records in Manchester helped me write a part of my novel."
At this, he brightened up considerably. "Really? What did I say?"
"You said you'd go down into the basement - "
"With all the singles, that's right!" Full on grinning now.
"Yes, and when you'd take the new records home and listen on headphones in the dark, that you knew you were going on a little journey."
"Wow. I was just a kid." He grabbed my right hand and held it there in his. We stared at each other, after I took the half-second to glance down and confirm that, Yes, Johnny Marr had willingly and excitedly grabbed my hand, before he said, "That is so wonderful that something that was so important to me so many years ago made a connection with you now."
"You were tremendously helpful," I said. "Really."
I realized that the line behind me was getting anxious to have their own moment. "I won't monopolize more of your time," I said, "but... you have my Sharpie."
I took my signed CD and my Noel Gallagher/Johnny Marr purple Sharpie and stepped aside so the woman behind me, Jane, could talk to him. She'd asked me before I spoke to him if I would take their picture when it was her turn. He agreed to a photo, and she says to both me and Johnny, "Can we move into the light? Here, move over here."
She directed us closer to the lighted area by the stage door. "Jane is a bit bossy," he said, laughing.
I took a photo, but it was a bit blurry - probably because my insides were still all !!!!!! They had a conversation about the buttons/badges on her coat, and she gave him one that her friend made. While they were talking, I scribbled onto one of my business cards, You helped me write my novel.
"I don't have a pen for you to sign anything," she said to him.
"Oh, here." I handed her my Sharpie, along with her phone. To Johnny, I gave the card. "So when the book is out in the world and you see it, you'll remember who I am, maybe."
"Sara is prepared!" he said. "Thank you."
After signing one of Jane's buttons, she and I started to walk away when he called out, "Good luck with your novel, Sara."
And then I died again - But not before I answered, "Thank you!"
Thank you, thank you, Johnny. Even if the second time, I never got my Sharpie back.
Location of meeting: Gothic Theatre Denver, Colorado
Date of meeting: 21/4/2013
My friend Dave and I met Johnny as we were walking from the Gothic Theatre parking lot to the venue for the concert. We parked close to the tour bus, and when we got out of the car, I spotted Johnny standing in the alley between the bus and the backstage door. I immediately walked toward him and asked he we could trouble him for a couple of photos. He was more than happy to oblige. He asked me what I thought of the new record and I was gushing with compliments. I was high for an entire week afterward. It was a wonderful, LOUD show and one I'll NEVER forget. Thank you Johnny!
Location of meeting: Outside The Phoenix Theatre, Toronto
Date of meeting: 27/4/2013
It was early in the morning - 10am to be exact. Me and my best friend Valo went to see if Johnny had arrived with his tour bus. We rushed out of Sherbourne station and headed toward to venue to find that Johnny Marr had indeed arrived!! We stood out like a sore thumb (obviously) as fans, waiting patiently for Johnny to come out of the tour bus. Within 10 minutes he came out and went and talked to one of the roadies (I believe). We stood there and he looked over at us, and I waved and said "Hey Johnny" while holding records to be signed. He graciously walked over and started talking to us. We talked about the solo album, Noel Gallagher (because I admire their friendship and because I'm a huge Oasis fan), and running. He was more than happy to sign everything we had on us. Me and my friend Valo brought our Smiths gatefolds, singles, and more importantly, The Messenger, to be signed. We spend about 45 minutes chatting away, taking pictures, and showing him the safest area to go for a run through. It was a great experience for us to be standing and chatting with a godlike genius, who was so humble. Although, it wasn't the first time I met a godlike genius before. To us, being huge fans of Marr's music, it was the greatest day of our lives.
Location of meeting: Toronto
Date of meeting: 27/4/2013
My friend and I attended Johnny's show on April 27th last year at Phoenix Concert Theater. We were the first to arrive at the venue and I guess Johnny noticed us, because only about 20 minutes after we showed up, he got off his tour bus. I was in awe, but my friend called him over and we got to chat with him for a few. We took a few pictures together and he signed my copy of The Messenger album along with Queen is Dead & Strangeways. We talked about The the, and his pre-show ritual run. I advised him to be careful as I had heard of some trouble in the area at the time. He went on his way and we wished him a good show, and as we went off to grab lunch, Johnny ran past us while we were next to a structure that looked nearly identical to the Salford Lads Club (which was in the image on the gatefold LP of The Queen is Dead that I had him sign). Upon arriving back at the venue we could hear him doing his sound check, on top of the greatest show ever!! It was a great day!
Location of meeting: Manchester
Date of meeting: August 2013
On a family holiday, we took a day trip to Manchester. On a bit of a Smiths pilgrimage, we'd been to take the obligatory snapshots at Salford Lads Club and were en route to the exhibition showing artwork from Smiths promotional posters. Wandering away from the mainstream shopping area, we stopped off to look in a record shop (Piccadilly Records). I might possibly have spent a bit longer there than my sister was happy with but, like they say, everything happens for a reason. You know the thing where you're not quite sure if your parents have got something right? So when my dad came in and casually mentioned that he thought he'd just seen Johnny Marr going into the shop next door I wasn't too sure what to think (whilst I ran up the stairs just in case). Sure enough, after a day of taking wrong directions and ever changing plans, we'd somehow ended up in exactly the right place at the right time and there was Johnny buying a book about punk and chatting to the shop staff. Without thinking too much, I went over and asked if he'd mind having a photo taken, he agreed straight away (after buying the book), shook my hand and stopped for a chat, asked my name, I told him how good The Messenger was (like he didn't know) and left over the moon (and probably over a few other planets). They say you should never meet your heroes because you'll be disappointed - not this time; couldn't have asked for a better day out, and what are the chances of meeting a Mancunian legend walking down his local streets.
Location of meeting: Edinburgh
Date of meeting: 8/10/2013
My best friend and I were sat outside the venue (Edinburgh Picture House) from 10:30am, and after about 4 hours of sitting there, Johnny came by and greeted us with 'alright lads', and he invited us to the sound check and commented on me having the same shoes (not deliberate by any means;))
Location of meeting: Leeds
Date of meeting: 13/10/2013
After missing his first solo gig in Leeds at the Brudenell last March, I was ecstatic to see Johnny Marr announce a show at Leeds Met in the October. A carefully thought out outfit including my favourite Smiths t-shirt was worn, and I listened to nothing but Mr Marr for a solid month before - I was more than ready!
The gig was nothing other than great and after bantering with the merchandise staff, dancing like an idiot, clapping incorrectly at 'The It Switch' and nearly being killed in a mosh pit during 'Big Mouth Strikes Again', I didn't think the night could get any better.
Me and my friend decided to chance waiting outside (even though the rain was torrential and Leeds looked like a Smiths song). I'd just been talking about how cool the hat that Johnny wore in the encore was, when the man himself came out wearing it. I begged with my friend to not let me mention it and to help me stay cool, but that went out of the window when it was my turn. I complimented the hat and Johnny told me a story about how he got it from a recent photo shoot, as he'd loved it so much and had to have it. I was particularly buzzing because he recognised my accent, asked if I was from Manchester (correct), and chatted with me about what I was doing in Leeds.
I was that nervous that when I got a photo taken, he told me to get in and pulled me in (though it looks like he's trying to strangle me in the photo, I'm happy in the knowledge that he's not and was being nice!)
People always say you should be careful when you meet your heroes, but Johnny Marr was everything I hoped for and more - such a down to earth guy and I can't wait to hopefully meet him again!
Location of meeting: Leeds
Date of meeting: 13/10/2013
After years of supporting the legendary Marr and following and attending as many gigs as I could, I thought my time was never going to come to meet him, until the night at Leeds Uni when Johnny came out to meet his fans before the gig..... I finally got to meet my idol, we shook hands, and he signed my top. I took out my phone to take a pic and the battery was dead..... but who needs pics? That night will stay with me forever.
Location of meeting: Leeds
Date of meeting: 13/10/2013
I met Johnny in October 2013 at Leeds Met - totally a chance meeting, as I was showing my fiancé where people would load gear into the venue. He just appeared next to me and I had a 20 min conversation with him about Fender Jaguars, as I had just bought one and was having tuning issues with it. He gave me advice to use gauge 11 strings on them as Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) had told him that at a party!! One great guitar player to another:) He also advised to get the kill switch removed from the circuit, and went into a story about Ryan Jarman from The Cribs turning Johnny's guitar off half way through a solo! He was very cool guy, no airs and graces, it was just like talking to a musician friend. He had lots of time for me and asked what other guitars I had - I told him that I played a Strat through a Vox AC30, to which he replied "good combo". Being a Rory Gallagher fan as well, he obviously recognised the set up and told me he had almost got rid of all his Strats when he found the Jag. I got a cheeky picture with him and he said "good luck with your playing, man. It's tough out there, but keep going" - and sure enough that's what we have done. That chance meeting has given me a charge to carry on with my band "Strangers in paradise", and all that positive energy turned into our third EP, "Weight of possibility", which is arguably the best thing we have done.
Location of meeting: Leeds
Date of meeting: 13/10/2013
The day I met Johnny Marr was amazing. It was one of the first Concerts my father had taken me to at Leeds Met Uni . We and others were waiting around outside next to Johnny's travel bus and out of the blue he walked through the back door of the building . Being big fans, my father and I were first to meet him. He was sound and a lovely guy, got pictures and he signed our stuff. x
Location of meeting: Wolverhampton
Date of meeting: 14/10/2013
The 14th of October 2013 was not a day I was going to forget in a hurry. I'd been a huge fan of Johnny's for more than 27 years, having stood slap bang in front of him at a Smiths gig in 1986 - of which there is embarrassing video evidence on you tube that thankfully did not capture my attempted and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at a stage invasion (the memory was reminding me of how old I was in comparison to a lot of Johnny's fans). Myself and my friend Clare had travelled to Wolverhampton regardless of the fact that Johnny was playing our hometown two days later.
After a storming gig, we stood outside and Johnny's crew came out and said that he would be out shortly, and that if we organised ourselves into a proper queue he would ensure that everyone got every autograph / photo / any other memorabilia that they wanted. We stood there for about half hour while Johnny spoke to each and every fan, engaging with them all. It came to my turn and my usual bluster had all but disappeared; I was a nervous wreck. Johnny signed the setlist that I'd managed to obtain, I asked for a photo and he obliged. Just as I'm thinking things couldn't get any better, he turned to me and said "Cool Shoes - are they Docs?" ....virtually the only day I'm not wearing Docs and my hero is talking to me about my footwear. We then stood chatting about footwear for the next few minutes - while the inside of my head is repeating "Johnny thinks my shoes are cool". Mind Blown.
The funniest part of my JM story really is the fact that the second time I met him I made sure that the shoes I was wearing were the best ones I had - my favourites.....Red Paisley Dr Marten Boots....as I thought he's bound to be impressed by them if my other ones had got his attention so it was with trepidation and mild hope that I approached him .....only for him to look at me and say ...."Hey Cool Jacket" ....didn't even notice my footwear ! You can't win em all - lol!
Location of meeting: Bristol, Avon
Date of meeting: 17/10/2013
I was 15 when The Smiths split in 1987. Since then I never expected that I would ever get the chance to meet Johnny or hear him play The Smiths songs live. I am sure many feel the same way. My wife Sandra, my son Ethan and his guitar buddy Greg, all came with me to see the Bristol gig last October, having grown up on The Smiths and celebrated The Messenger. We'd been to a few gigs on the tour including Oxford early on, then Birmingham, Boston (USA), Bridgport and Gloucester. The great thing about Bristol is that it's an U-14 venue, so my 11-year-old son, who is already a big fan, could go too.
Down the front as always, we had a great night, but the best was yet to come. We hung around after the gig and waited for Johnny to emerge. Nile Marr had told us at the end of the gig that he'd come out to meet us afterwards, so we waited eagerly.
Johnny came out looking fresh and greeted the 20 or so fans who had stuck around. He was very patient and chatted to everyone, signing whatever was put in front of him. When it was our turn, Johnny chatted away to Ethan and his buddy Greg, asking where we came from. No doubt confused by my Scottish accent with English kids! We talked about Ethan playing the signature Jag, and he posed for some photos with the kids and then Sandra and I. He also slipped some JOHHNY guitar picks to the boys, which was really nice of him. I thanked him and said i had waited 26 years to finally get this chance. As we left I saw Jack Mitchell standing just off to the left and went to have a chat with him too, which was a nice bonus.
You can only be inspired when this kind of thing happens. For me, it was a lifelong ambition achieved, but what made it special was that Sandra, Ethan and Greg also got to meet Johnny, inspiring a new generation.
Location of meeting: Indianapolis, Indiana (The Vogue)
Date of meeting: 11/11/2013
They say never meet your idols because you'll be disappointed, but this wasn't the case when meeting Johnny Marr in November 2013. After standing in the pouring rain before the show, we stood outside in the snow for probably a half hour more waiting for Johnny to come outside. For some reason I had this feeling we would meet him, if we were patient. My friend wanted to leave because let's face it..it was freaking cold..snowing..and any minute our feet and hands would turn into frozen fish sticks.
I just kept telling my friend "Five more minutes..just five more minutes..I know we're going to meet him!" He came out of his tour bus and instructed us to go back into the venue to get autographs. This is not a normal "rock star" thing. Most go to the bus and that's it. We stood in line patiently and eagerly waiting for our moment. I was freaking out because I looked like crap. My hair was ruined due to the snow..it looked like I had been at a rave all night. Then my phone died..NO! I mean..seriously..doesn't that seem like it should be in a movie or something? Just before you meet your idol your phone says..Goodbye loser! Thankfully my friend had his wits about him and didn't use his phone during the show. The guy in front of us had the Rank album for Johnny to sign and was chatting him up for a bit. I just wanted to press the fast forward button on that scene. Finally, he is done..it is now our turn!
Johnny talked to my friend and got his picture with him. I couldn't help but grin like an idiot and trying to stop from peeing myself. I just couldn't believe he was standing inches from me in the flesh. How did this happen? How did I get here? Is this real? It felt like an out of body experience truthfully. It was then my turn and I was trying to think of what to say. Something clever..or cool..or everything I ever wanted to say to him...but all I could do was just look at him and smile.
He pointed out my Joy Division shirt and I thanked him so much for coming to Indianapolis since most go to Chicago anymore. He asked my name and signed my record. I then got a picture of him and it wasn't just a regular mate hug, it was a real hug. Like he knew that we were real longtime fans and that this meant a lot to us. He thanked us and kissed my hand! I was beyond excited. I felt like Marcia Brady not wanting to wash because Davey Jones kissed her cheek. Johnny Marr actually took my hand like a gentleman and kissed it! Now that had to be a dream, right? No..all reality. I wanted to relive that moment over and over again. Actual live in that moment and never let go. Even though you truly enjoy the moment, you always wish you could enjoy it even more if possible.
After we had our meet and greet I couldn't contain myself. I latched on to my friend's sleeve with glee and said "Can you f*cking believe we just f*cking met Johnny F*ckin Marr?!" It was truly one of the best nights of my life and one that I will always cherish. He made me feel like I was 16 again. I actually jumped up and down during the show and caught all those nostalgic feelings when he played Smith's songs. A few days later I sent Johnny a message and thanked him so much for that night. I have Osteoarthritis and it sometimes is very hard to get around much less go to a concert jumping around and standing for hours. I remember trying to hold the camera to record some video and my achy hands were struggling to hold it up. He wrote back thanking me for the message and wishing me luck with everything.
For some drugs and alcohol are their highs, but for me the best high is going to a concert. It's a high like no other and is something you will carry with you like a badge for the rest of your life. You will beam for days on end thinking how wonderful it was and how much you want to experience it again..over and over and over. Truthfully without music many of us would not be here. I know without bands like The Smiths, Joy Division, etc. I would not be here. If you didn't have that friend or parent saying "Hey, I've been there", then The Smiths and Ian Curtis would be that voice. This is why after all these years bands like this have cult followings. I can only speak for myself, but you never forget the ones who helped you through all the lows in life. You feel like you owe it to the artist for helping you through the tough times and still remaining in your life when the undeniable transition to adulthood becomes evident. Johnny Marr is the most down to Earth guy and just a class act. He's the guy everyone wants to hang out and have a beer with chatting about music and the world. Johnny Marr is legend..that is all.
Location of meeting: Pittsburgh
Date of meeting: 12/11/2013
I went to see Johnny Marr play last winter in Pittsburgh (2013).
Meredith Sheldon was a great opening act and I see a lot of potential in her.
Johnny and his band played an incredibly tight set that was about half-and-half mixture of his newer songs and Smiths tunes. This tour isn't just some sort of victory lap, resting on his laurels thing; he's really on top of his game and delivered to a packed audience. Some fun banter in between the songs too. I actually prefer his voice to Morrissey's (blasphemy, I know but I'm just being honest), and of course he knows how to play a mean guitar. A lot of the newer material is in a more upbeat Brit-rock style, but there's still plenty of atmospheric jangly sections.
As a guitar player myself, I was very impressed with the tone he and his band were getting. However, his gear isn't anything extremely fancy: it seems to just be his Jaguar into a Boss Tuner, a Diamond Compressor, and a Line 6 M9 into Fender Blackface amps. To paraphrase what he told me later, 'the guitars really don't matter as much, since you ultimately end up sounding like yourself despite the gear'. Coming from the mouth of someone who's played some of the most coveted guitars in existence, I think this might be a good reminder to us all to help suppress our "gear acquisition syndromes"...
After the concert I hung around a little longer along with about two dozen other people, and we got to chat with Johnny himself. It was an amazing experience, seeing as The Smiths are in my personal top 5 favorite bands of all time. Those albums meant a lot to me growing up, and Johnny's playing is a big inspiration for my own approach to the instrument. In person he's a really humble, down-to-earth, friendly guy and seemed genuinely happy to shake hands and talk with the fans. This is nothing like some bands you see that are eager to run back to the tour bus/hotel after a show.
I tried not to be *too* starstruck, and talked about how much I loved his work with The Smiths, The The, The Healers, and Modest Mouse. He asked what some of my favorite tracks were and I said how much I loved the guitars on 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' -- he said that was played on his Les Paul. I asked him if it'd be cool if he'd sign my guitar if I were to run out and get it -- I swore that I wasn't intending on just flipping it on eBay or anything, just simply that I was a super huge fan of his work. (I brought a guitar with me and left it in my car, just in the event that someone might have been able to get it to him backstage and snag a signature at some point during the night). He said it would be fine and would in fact be an honor. So I ran back out to my car and came back with my Rickenbacker.
Not only did he sign it, he tuned it up (Pittsburgh winter knocked it a bit out of tune) and busted out the riff to 'This Charming Man' on it! Needless to say, this was one of the coolest things to happen to me this year. I will definitely cherish the guitar and the memory associated with it. (I might have to buy another pickguard just so I can keep his signature safe, as you can see he smudged it up a little bit when he was playing it!)
Location of meeting: The Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Date of meeting: 13/11/2013
My first time meeting Johnny Marr was after his show at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights last November. I lived in Manchester for two years but am back in the US. I was so excited that he was finally coming to Cleveland when he toured here again. I'm a huge Man City fan, as I know Johnny is, so I wore my City champion's shirt as that would be the last thing he would expect to see in Cleveland. I hung around after the show to meet him. He came out so late that there weren't many people waiting, probably since it was so cold and a weeknight.
During the show he saw my shirt and was happy. I was shocked, but Johnny is so down to earth, super friendly. Has a wonderful family. For me that meant a lot since I was so sad to have to leave England. We talked about our love for Man City and how happy we were over winning the league. I think he was happy to talk about his home town with someone that has been there, and for me as well. Then I didn't know any other City fans here, think I even said I had a few friends who were rags (what City fans call Man United fans, which got a laugh). Mentioned that I saw him at the Deaf Institute in Manchester and that it was an amazing show. I even told him I was disappointed that he didn't come onstage with R.E.M. when Modest Mouse opened for them, but meeting him made up for it. He was so easy to talk to, wasn't nervous at all. It was one of those nights that you never think will happen. I'm not even sure how long we talked but he needs to come back to Cleveland. It was one best nights I've had since moving back to the states. He made me feel better.
Location of meeting: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Date of meeting: 19/11/2013
Checked out Johnny Marr and his awesome band at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC. Drove up that day from Charleston, SC to meet up with one of my best friends from college days and Charlotte, NC, the one and only...John Maynard. So here's the story.
We both have followed Johnny Marr since The Smiths....yea, the band responsible for life's soundtrack for just about any college student (with proper British Rock taste) in the mid / late 80's along with Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, The Cure, The Cult, etc.. After their split, I kept on listening to Marr in Talking Heads, The The, Electronic, then later on with Modest Mouse, The Cribs and his magnificent solo work. I also started following a band he took a real liking to in the early 90's...OASIS. Seen them many times over and miss them too much to comment further.
After seeing our favorites like Band of Horses (4x), The Who, The Cult (2x), The Feelies (at the Cradle too) and other bands with Maynard over the years, we heard about Johnny's 2013 tour for The Messenger..which is an instant classic BTW. This was a must see show and got the tix the second they went on sale and off we went on the pilgrimage to see and hear the man himself. I was fired up for weeks and kept tabs on his tour dates...Bring It! was my standard comment to him on Facebook.
The gig and set list were MEGA and he did Bring It! They shredded the place and upon leaving, we caught up with Johhny Marr out front of the Cradle where he had an impromptu meet & greet on the way to the tour bus. Johnny was very generous with his time to all and we got to chat for a few minutes. Marr is very nice and kind to fans as are his band mates - also met Doviak, Magic Jack and Marr's son, Nile - who's a chip off the block.
You don't get to meet your heroes/idols too much but when you do, how awesome is it to know they are just as appreciative as the fans. Photos courtesy of John Maynard...and a very big thanks to him for capturing the evening. Waiting to see Marr in 2015!
Location of meeting: Atlanta, Georgia
Date of meeting: 23/11/2013
The year began with the crushing realization that I would not be seeing a certain unnamed ex-Smith, as he had cancelled the show for which I had a ticket AGAIN...yet spring brought promise, as I found out that Johnny Marr was coming to town in the fall. So my wonderful boyfriend got me a ticket for the concert.
The show was in a tiny venue, The Loft at Center Stage in Atlanta, which was an approximately 50 mile drive for me. It amazed me that so few enough people cared to show up for this legend that the show was moved to the smaller Loft upstairs, while it had originally been scheduled for the larger Center Stage downstairs. I was against the barrier, at most 15 feet away from Johnny at any time, as he played a blistering set, including Smiths favorites, to which he more than did justice beautifully.
I was determined to meet him, so I sought out the parked tour buses right after the show. Most of the people waiting there were in their teens, clearly hoping to meet the band who ultimately played downstairs, but I found Johnny's disciples soon enough. So we waited...all four of us, for over an hour, making awkward conversation as we shivered outside the bus. The bus driver took pity on us, opened the door and explained that Johnny was still in the venue, giving interviews to Australian radio stations. So we trudged back up to the building and waited a while longer. Suddenly one of the guys I was waiting with patted me on the shoulder. There was Johnny, walking out onto the sidewalk. The other fellow was given the chance to speak first. Then Johnny said to me, “'Ello, love. What's your name?”, and I introduced myself. He asked where I was from, I answered, then I found myself sputtering out some silly stuff I'm sure he's heard hundreds of times before about how he's such a legend, thanking him for all the years of great music. He said some very complimentary and humble things: "Oh, no...you must have been a baby when you started listening...thank you for coming! I like that jacket! I noticed it during the show." (I may have worn my teal velvet jacket on purpose that night.) Then I went in for a hug, which he returned, and I got him to sign my Messenger CD. I hung around a bit longer, while he chatted with the other fans, then he asked if I wanted a picture, which really surprised me - I fully expected to have to ask. We took a nice photo, then he wished me safe travels and good night, and I did the same.
I think I skipped to my car like a schoolgirl. What I had said about him being a legend wasn't an exaggeration - and to find that he was so genuinely kind and humble with fans was a pleasant surprise. It was a fantastic experience all around that capped off 20+ years of fandom.
Location of meeting: Miami Beach, Florida
Date of meeting: 27/11/2013
It's time the tale were told...of how I met Johnny Marr. It was at Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room, last show of the US tour, and me and about ten other fans were standing in line when all of a sudden, there he was! I must have been daydreaming because I hadn't noticed him walk up to us. But it was surreal. He drew in the crowd like a magnet and - sporting his signature velvet blazer, Wire and Aldous Huxley pins - worked his charm effortlessly. He really is as kind as everyone says. Personally, I was so starstruck, I couldn't even introduce myself! My mother had to egg me on for a picture, which Johnny suggested, seeing as I was at a loss for words... "Shy, are we?", he said. And with that, I squeezed in from behind the group for a brief moment. He gripped my waist firm and said to a couple of boys, "Y'see fellas, this is why you've got to keep working on that band of yours!" (...or something of the sort). Afterwards, I asked him for a hug (seems silly now) and I watched in awe as he talked about his upcoming work on the next Spiderman film and the second album.
Then, during the show, he said something about singing to the ladies, not the guys, because if he were, he'd have to call them "darlings." And he pointed right at me! The setlist was wonderful. Highlights were "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before”, "Generate! Generate! Generate!" ("For all the people who think too much!"), "Getting Away With It," and obviously "How Soon Is Now?". Can hardly contain my excitement for the next time I see him live...hopefully soon.
Location of meeting: Melbourne, Australia
Date of meeting: 5/1/2014
I was so excited when I found out Johnny was coming to Australia! Tickets were limited since I had left purchasing them quite late (which I bought with Christmas present money!) so I was ecstatic to be able to go to two of his gigs.
The first time I met him was after his second Melbourne gig, and what an absolutely amazing gig it was! I had arrived early so I got to hear him sound checking from outside which got me even more excited for the night ahead. I met lots of really nice fans and I had so much fun right at the front and so close to Johnny throughout an awesome show he delivered.
I thought the evening couldn't get better during the last song when I stuck my hand out and Johnny shook my hand! That was until I waited for him to come out afterwards. I wasn't sure if he would come out at all but I didn't mind taking my chances. To my delight he did come out, and in the moment I yelled out (sort of) jokingly “I love you Johnny!” (oops, slightly embarrassing...) and all the other fans waiting laughed along with me as he jokingly pretended to run away but then thankfully came down and gave me a hug! He kindly posed for photos with me and signed my ticket, then we chatted and he asked me what I do and I told him that I'm a singer and study music at university. And he replied that he can say he knows me when I'm famous and good luck with my singing. I then told him what an inspiration he is to me and he thanked me saying it means a lot to him and that he hopes he can continue to be an inspiration to me. I could have died of happiness!
His Sydney show was equally incredible. I didn't think I'd be so lucky to meet him afterwards a second time but I did. He held my hand as we had a lovely chat and he gave me the guitar pick he played with during the show. He was so kind; he really is a lovely and down to earth person. I had the best two nights and meeting him was amazing and an experience I will never forget!
Location of meeting: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Date of meeting: 25/3/2014
I was lucky enough to be present at both Brudenell gigs earlier this year (after winning the competition held a while back for a ticket to each night - thanks Aly and Ory, for the hundredth time!), even though like everyone else I was worried they weren't going to happen because of that broken hand - I traveled all the way up from London especially!
The first night was the very first time I saw Johnny Marr live, and it was a completely unforgettable experience; great atmosphere, great songs and I met some fantastic people. I was told by several others who had already met him that Johnny was a lovely fella and made time especially for his fans, so imagine my excitement when I went outside afterwards to meet him... but it wasn't to be. He rushed from the stage door into his van and it drove straight off. One could only suppose that his hand was aching and he needed to rest - understandable of course.
I went to the venue early the next day to meet him beforehand instead - I couldn't miss this opportunity again! When his van pulled into the car park, instantly a wave of exhilaration flooded me, along with one of panic. What if I became a babbling idiot when I tried to talk to one of my heroes? Or if I tripped over my own feet when walking up to him?
There was only one other guy before me who was getting his records signed so when Johnny turned to me, I hadn't pulled myself together quite yet. The only thing my mouth could say was '...Hello!' to which Johnny replied 'Hello,' with a smile on his face and in his eyes. Instantly I felt more at ease - thank God! When Aly and Ory sent me my tickets, they attached a little note telling me to enjoy the gigs and to say hi to Johnny from them should I bump into him. I showed him the note and explained how I'd got to Leeds because of them. At this point Johnny said 'Sure... what's your name?'
'Gemma,' I replied and he said 'Gemma, oh yeah, Aly told me to look out for you'. To say I was pleasantly surprised by him remembering me is putting it mildly! Being the gentleman he is, he also signed my tickets, my CD of 'The Messenger' and a tour flyer which Aly and Ory also sent. He was very impressed that I'd traveled up from the capital city and seemed flattered when I told him that The Smiths were one of my favourite bands ever (surely he must get bored of people telling him that by now!), as well as 'The Messenger' being among my list of personal favourite albums.
It was only when I'd joined the queue after saying goodbye to Johnny that I realised I'd failed to remember something - in my excitement of meeting the man himself, I'd completely forgotten to ask him to have a picture with me! To this day I'm still kicking myself that I never asked him as he probably would have said yes of course, but at least there's the satisfaction of finally meeting him and some fantastic memories of the gigs, as well as owning two signed tickets, a signed flyer and an album that bears his signature.
In a way though, this makes me more excited than ever for his next UK tour - not only do I hope to see some of the faces I met in Leeds, I have sworn to myself that this time I WILL get a picture with him, and hopefully I can come up with something better to say when greeting him than just plain old 'Hello'.
Location of meeting: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date of meeting: 3/4/2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014. Buenos Aires, Argentina:
That day I returned with my wife from a wonderful vacation in Ushuaia, south of Argentina. In the afternoon we went straight to the Panamericano Hotel (in the centre of Buenos Aires city), where Johnny Marr was staying. We knew he was there because some friends had been fortunate enough to meet him personally the day before.
We met several friends who had traveled only to see Johnny here. We waited about 2 and a half hours, but our idol didn't go out. We later learned that he had left early to go to the place of the show (Niceto Club) for the soundcheck and stayed there. Around 7.30 pm we go in a taxi to Niceto Club and entered the place. Although there was not as much of a crowd, as it was a weekday, and many people were just emerging from their jobs. Over the hours the place started filling up. When finally the great Marr took the stage, everything was magical: watching very closely the founder of The Smiths; the composer of all the music of my favorite band of all time. Watching him play guitar and sing most of The Messenger and The Smiths classics was simply wonderful. He looked very energetic and happy. You can tell he really loves what he does. Most riffs were sung by the audience and, of course, there were tears of joy. We all jumped and screamed ... pure passion.
At the end of the show, about 40 people waited for Johnny to check out of the place, so as to intercept him as he left. But my wife said "there's too many people here and I don't think he'll stop to sign autographs. We must go directly to the hotel and wait for him there". And that's what we did with our friend Christian from Chile. In 25 minutes we reached the Panamericano Hotel on taxi and some fans were already waiting. Not many, 5 or 6. We stayed there and within half an hour we see that a white van is parked at the gate. It was Johnny Marr. We were elated. His Argentinian manager asked us to be quiet and we did. I was the first who gave him albums to sign. I told him his show was amazing and we love him in Argentina. I also asked to take a picture with him and my wife, and he kindly agreed. I said, "Johnny, this is my wife. We met each other thanks to the music of The Smiths and now we are married". He smiled, looked us in the eye and said "well, are you happy now?". Of course, we both answered affirmatively. Then he continued signing autographs and taking pictures with other fans. He spoke to us as equals, like a big brother ... He also told us the story of his arm accident. When we told him that he must return, he said "sure, next year with my new album due out in September". He even reassured a fan who was crying with excitement.
Johnny Marr is an impeccable musician and a great person. That was demonstrated during his visit to Argentina. Meeting him was a beautiful experience. He is human and cares for his followers. Hopefully all fans can get to meet him. I am happy and I thank God for having had this unique opportunity.
Location of meeting: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date of meeting: 4/4/2014
I met Johnny on 4th April when he went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to play at Lollapalooza. After two days waiting at the hotel's door with a friend, I was able to achieve that he signed me the ticket, on the chest, and I took a picture with him. It was one of my favourite days of my fucking life, I was so happy because he is one of my idols. Then when I return to my own town Mar del Plata, I tattooed his signature. I'm so happy!
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