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Steven Patrick Morrissey, known mononymously as Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter and author. He came to prominence as the frontman of the Smiths, a rock band active from 1982 to 1987. Since then, Morrissey has had a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart on ten occasions and reaching number one on the UK Albums Chart thrice.
Born in Davyhulme, Lancashire, to a working-class Irish migrant family, Morrissey grew up in Manchester. As a child he developed a love of literature, kitchen sink realism, and pop music. Involved in Manchester's punk rock scene during the late 1970s, he fronted the Nosebleeds, with little success. Beginning a career in music journalism, he authored several books on music and film in the early 1980s. With Johnny Marr he formed the Smiths in 1982, soon attracting national recognition for their eponymous debut album. As the band's frontman, Morrissey attracted attention for his baritone voice, witty and sardonic lyrics, and idiosyncratic appearance; deliberately avoiding rock machismo, he cultivated the aesthetic of a social outsider who eschewed drugs and embraced celibacy. The Smiths released three further studio albums—Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead, and Strangeways, Here We Come—and had a string of hit singles. Personal differences between Morrissey and Marr resulted in the termination of the band in 1987.
In 1988, Morrissey launched his solo career with Viva Hate. This album and its follow-ups—Kill Uncle, Your Arsenal, and Vauxhall and I—all did well on the UK Albums Chart and spawned multiple hit singles. During this time his image began to shift into that of a burlier figure, who toyed with patriotic imagery and working-class masculinity. In the mid-to-late 1990s, his albums Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, also charted but were less well received. Relocating to Los Angeles, he took a musical hiatus from 1998 to 2003 before releasing a successful comeback album, You Are the Quarry, in 2004. Ensuing years saw the release of albums Ringleader of the Tormentors, Years of Refusal, and World Peace Is None of Your Business. He released his autobiography in 2013, followed by his first novel in 2015. His eleventh solo studio album, Low in High School, was released in 2017.
Highly influential, Morrissey has been credited as a seminal figure in the emergence of indie rock and Britpop. Acclaimed as one of the greatest lyricists in British history, his lyrics have become the subject of academic study. He has courted controversy with his forthright opinions—endorsing vegetarianism and animal rights, criticising royalty and prominent politicians, and defending a particular vision of English national identity. In a 2006 poll for the BBC's The Culture Show, Morrissey was voted the second-greatest living British cultural icon.