‘Guitars have been the obsession of my life … they’ve been a mission and sometimes a lifeline’ – Johnny Marr
The guitarist’s guitarist, Johnny Marr redefined music for a generation. His ringing arpeggios and chordal innovations helped elevate The Smiths to be one of the most influential and important British bands of all time.
Tracing Marr’s career from his teenage years to his recent work on the Bond soundtrack, Marr’s Guitars showcases the most significant of Marr’s superb collection of electric and acoustic guitars, revealing through them the evolution of his iconic sound and style of playing. Each guitar is identified with a crucial moment, a specific song or a particular sound, and each embodies a key aspect of Marr’s lifelong passion.
Renowned photographer Pat Graham presents each instrument as a full portrait, supported by micro shots highlighting the specific details that make each one unique, while Johnny Marr himself reveals in his accompanying commentary on what tracks and at which shows the guitars were played. Many of the guitars are closely associated with Marr, such as the Rickenbacker 330, the Gibson ES-355 and the Johnny Marr Signature Fender Jaguar. Some were passed down to him, including Nile Rodgers’ Stratocaster, Bryan Ferry’s Roxy Music Hagstrom and Bert Jansch’s Yamaha. Others are guitars once owned by Marr that have since been passed on to the next generation of guitar heroes, including the Stratocaster used by Noel Gallagher on ‘Wonderwall’ and the Gibson Les Paul Goldtop used on In Rainbows by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien.
Punctuating the photography of the guitars and the accompanying commentary are contextual studio, backstage and onstage shots. Together, they make Marr’s Guitars a unique cultural history of modern music and guitar playing told through the prism of Johnny Marr’s experiences and achievements.