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Johnny Marr on his earliest musical memories

Johnny Marr. Picture: PA

Johnny Marr. Picture: PA

  • by Fiona Shepherd
 

AHEAD of his show in Scotland next week, Johnny Marr shares his earliest musical memories with Fiona Shepherd.

The first toy that I ever loved was a little wooden toy guitar that I had when I was about four. It was in one of those shops that sells mops and brooms and buckets and brushes and all of that kind of thing that you don’t see anymore, and it was in the window.

I had no idea why I was attracted to that object. My mother used to try and get me past the shop and I used to do that thing that dogs do when they won’t go so she’d be pulling me and pulling me and pulling me so eventually she got it for me and that was my favourite thing for ages. I carried it around like other boys maybe carry a football or a fire engine or toy guns or something like that, a bow and arrow. So that was my first toy.

My earliest memory is of seeing my mother and my dad’s sister standing at a record player, playing an Everly Brothers record about 17 times in a row and that was an amazing experience. Luckily for me, those records have got really great guitar playing on them so I was very struck by how they were behaving, and I was watching them analyse this record like it was a science which is something I went on to do, and also I got to hear this amazing record over and over again with this killer guitar on it.

I’ve just never forgotten those things. I never forgot that toy guitar and I never forgot that experience of seeing those women carried away by obsession and that really set the mould for me as a musician because my style, such as it is, was not really about copying one particular guitar player, it came about because I had this love for the guitar as an object and a machine - which I think it is - but at the same time an absolute fascination with the pop single.

So I started to play like I wanted to play the whole record as opposed to waiting for the guitar to come in on a record, I just wanted to play the whole thing. Plus I was lucky enough to be growing up in the early 1970s when there was all those crazy mad 45s around by David Bowie and Marc Bolan and all of that. So I was just trying to play the sound of those records and sometimes what I was playing was piano parts and string parts. I was just impatient I guess. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the guitar solo.

• Johnny Marr plays the O2 ABC, Glasgow, on 19 March.

 

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