Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 59. The news came from his Smiths bandmate and childhood friend, Johnny Marr, who in a lengthy tribute wrote that he will be "remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music."

"Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975. We were best friends, going everywhere together," Marr wrote. "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." As for his playing in The Smiths, Marr wrote, "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.’" Read Marr's full tribute below.

Morrissey paid tribute as well, writing on his site, "Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments … as if their death is there to be used. I'm not prepared to do this with Andy. I just hope … wherever Andy has gone … that he's OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard. He didn't ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity - never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that."

A supremely melodic player, Rourke's unique, stylish contributions to The Smiths are as intrinsic to their music as Marr's guitar or Morrissey's voice and lyrics. Smiths Drummer Mike Joyce wrote on Twitter, "Not only the most talented bass player I've ever had the privilege to play with but the sweetest, funniest lad I've ever met. Andy's left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart mate." Smiths producer Stephen Street wrote, "I am so saddened to hear this news. Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy."

Rest in peace, Andy. Read tributes from New Order, Billy Bragg, Tim Burgess, Ian Brown, Rick Astley, Badly Drawn Boy, The Dears, and more, and listen to some of his music, below.

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