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A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths Hardcover – Import, 6 Sep 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths
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  • Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982-87 (revised edition)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434020664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020669
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Fletcher is the author of six non-fiction books, a memoir, and a novel. His biography of drummer Keith Moon has been named in many a Best Music Book list, and his biography of R.E.M., updated in 2013 as 'Perfect Circle,' has been published in over half a dozen countries. His 2009 study, 'All Hopped Up and Ready To Go: Music From The Streets of New York 1927-77,' published by WW Norton, covered multiple musical genres and was internationally acclaimed. His most recent biography, 'A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths' was published by William Heinemann in the UK, by Crown Archetype in the US, and is now available in paperback. His memoir of his South London schooldays, 'Boy About Town,' is also now available in paperback through Windmill Books.

Fletcher gained his entry into music journalism by founding a fanzine at his London school in 1977; by the time Jamming! ceased publication in 1986, it was selling 30,000 copies a month. Along the way he interviewed the likes of Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Paul Weller and U2, as well as dozens of up-and-coming, predominantly independent post-punk acts.

A contributor over the years to a multitude of magazines, newspapers, radio and television shows, primarily in the UK and USA, Fletcher now lives with his family on a mountaintop near the village of Woodstock in New York State. There he runs, skis, maintains his web site www.ijamming.net, serves on his local school board, and plays Hammond B-3 and Rickenbacker in the Catskill 45s, a group that only performs songs from 45 calendar years ago.

Product Description


"[A] meticulous biography…This exhaustive, well-researched account brings fresh detail and thought to the party." (The Sunday Times)

"A finely judged re-telling of a remarkable tale with valuable first-hand accounts of the band’s American adventures, their rapid development into a wonderful live act, plus insights into the spiralling pressures and frictions that faced the individual band members." (Sabotage Times)

"An exhaustive labour of love that was three years in the writing but which will be lapped up by fans of the band...written with a real sense of love and affection for the group who, though they were only together for a mere five years, tilted the world on its axis to a degree not seen since the heyday of the Beatles and the Stones…Fletcher is excellent when it comes to widening the view to include the cultural and historical factors behind the band's emergence and the city from which they came." (Irish Independent)

"The story of the Smiths told on the basis of interviews with just about every surviving participant in the Smiths' story. As the story winds on, a chain of no-shows, fits of pique and self-sabotage ... reaches its denouement with an episode from April 1987, just prior to the band's formal break-up. Fletcher is the first writer to have got the full story. Such material highlights the extent to which Fletcher has done his research." (Guardian)

"Tony Fletcher’s account is a highly enjoyable way of revisiting [the] story. Crucially, he avoids areas well-served by other Smiths tomes and brings sufficient new material to reward even well-read fans…It’s a tale that’s been told before, but in his biography of the Manchester four-piece Tony Fletcher reveals new details and brings new depths to the story of Morrissey, Marr, Rourke, Joyce and the birth of the band." (Mojo)

Book Description

The first group biography of one of the greatest British bands of all time - The Smiths.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
THE SMITHS were among the most influential bands of the nineteen eighties. Author Tony Fletcher does a wonderful job describing the origins of the band, their lightning-fast rise to prominence, and their demise a mere five years later.

Some might recall author Johnny Rogan's book about the Smiths from the mid-nineties with the same fondness as I do, and if you are among those who do you surely will enjoy reading A Light That Never Goes Out. Those who are familiar with the author will know that he has written two distinctly different types of musical biographies; short concise bios such as his Clash, Bunnymen and REM books, and complete compendium encyclopedic bios such as his Kieth Moon bio and his recent All Hopped Up book about the history of the music of NYC; this book falls into the latter category. Though some might criticize the book for being too long or diverging too far from the main theme, I found that his detailed description of Manchester and the early lives of Moz and Marr was insightful. I find it very interesting to try to understand where artists come from; what makes them who they are. Just as you can't understand The Ramones without understanding 60's pop & 70's NYC grittiness, it would be impossible to understand The Smiths without having the background that Tony does such a great job of relating. Maybe to some older readers who were around to have seen The Smiths and were teenagers during those years this all seems obvious, but 35 years later it is a history lesson for some that needs taught.

Once Tony gets through that essential and interesting background his descriptions of the Smiths Story as it happened (especially the American Tour which I always thought Rogan's book was lacking in good info) is well-written and fresh.
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Format: Paperback
The reputation of The Smiths as one of the very greatest pop groups seems to grow over time even as that of former frontman Morrissey becomes diminished with every predictable and increasingly sour outburst he comes out with against his well-worn targets of the establishment in general and the royal family in particular. Back in his group’s heyday he was able to successfully present himself as a startlingly fearless, witty and articulate figurehead for those many souls who found themselves disillusioned and depressed by the crass vulgarities of modern culture and the brutality of society’s institutions, both formal and vernacular. It was his genius for distilling this disdain and bewilderment into his lyrics, allied with the tireless talent for contriving surprising but always rigorously disciplined song structures of his musical partner Johnny Marr that made The Smiths’ body of work so penetrating and imperishable. To my ears at least they made every other group sound facile and irrelevant, and their continued refusal to reform only makes the music they recorded over a quarter of a century ago now seem even more special, even if the lack of reunion is due mainly down to bad blood between certain of the group’s members.

For The Smiths everything happened fast.
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Format: Hardcover
Dear Boy: The Life of Keith MoonTony Fletcher has done it again. His amazingly thorough bio of Keith Moon, 'Dear Boy' was a fascinating portrait of the troubled drummer and a must for any Who fan. So much has been written on the Smiths since their demise, what's left to tell? When you think you know the whole story, Tony probes deeper and is able to get the people who were actually present to give us their inside insights. The chapter on the creation of 'How Soon Is Now' is a perfect example of how exciting he makes the it - you feel like you were present. At 600 plus pages, you really can't be a casual fan, but casual isn't an adjective applied to many Smiths fans anyway. The way Tony writes is also a cut above a lot of music journalists. I picked up another music bio after finishing 'A Light That Never Goes Out' (which shall remain nameless) and it's wooden prose was a a stark contrast. He makes the story of the Smiths so compelling I couldn't wait to continue reading whenever I left off. Well done!
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Format: Kindle Edition
A weighty tome of 600 pages should be the last word. But Morrissey and Marr don't meet until 200 pages in, and it essentially finishes in 1987 after what is basically a straightforward­ narrative history. He bemoans the fact that There Is A Light wasn't a single, yet it was a posthumous release in the 90s. No mention of success or otherwise of Sound Of/Best Of/Singles compilations. Other than saying that they happened, no coverage of the court case/Morrissey solo/­Marr's collaborations. In short, no real examination of the legacy. I would have thought the dust had settled enough by now to get some perspective. Where is the "enduring saga" of the subtitle? Appendices? No discography/­lyrics/chart listings. That information is all buried in the text and nightmarish to backtrack and find. 600 pages! In short it is, paradoxically, a must-read that is also ultimately disappointing. Could and should have been so much better!
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