Music will miss irascible, unpredictable and prolific Mark E. Smith

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POST-PUNK, in the telling of it, was born before punk itself had even come of age. In 1976, the Sex Pistols, not yet signed to a record label, played a gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. It was a performance many later claimed to have seen. In reality only 35-40 punters turned up. Yet among those who definitely attended were a cohort of teenagers who would each end up shaping British music in the 1980s. Morrissey, later to form The Smiths, drew inspiration from the sight of the Pistols’ wild abandon. So too did Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, founder members of Joy Division and, later, New Order. And then there was Mark E. Smith.

Mr Smith, who died on January 24th at the age of 60, did not enjoy the commercial success of some others in the crowd that night. Other than by in-the-know DJs such as John Peel, his music was barely to be heard on the radio. But his band, The Fall, formed in 1976 following that famous gig, was as influential as any who took the punk baton and moved it on from its 70s heyday.

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