The Smiths were an English rock band, formed in Manchester in 1982. Based on the songwriting partnership of Morrissey (vocals) and Johnny Marr (guitar), the band also included Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums). Critics have called them the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. The group were signed to the independent record label Rough Trade Records, for whom they released four studio albums and several compilations, as well as numerous non-LP singles. Although they had limited commercial success outside the UK while they were still together, and never released a single that charted higher than #10 in their home country, The Smiths won a growing following, and remain cult and commercial favorites. The band broke up in 1987 amid disagreements between Morrissey and Marr and has turned down several offers to reunite since then.
Despite being championed by BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel, the band's debut single, "Hand in Glove" (May 1983), failed to chart. The follow-up single, "This Charming Man" (October 1983), met with critical acclaim and reached #25 on the UK Singles Chart.
The Smiths' cult status was followed by mainstream success in 1984, as they reached #12 in the UK with the "What Difference Does It Make?" single and reached number two on the UK Albums Chart with their debut album, “The Smiths” (1984). Their next three singles all reached the top twenty of the charts in the UK, helping to consolidate their previous chart success.
The next studio album, “Meat Is Murder” (1985), reached the top of the British charts, however, the only single to be released from the album, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" (1985), failed to break the UK Top 40. Returning to form, The Smiths' next six singles all reached the higher than #30 in the UK and their third album, “The Queen Is Dead” (1986), reached #2 in the UK.
Despite the band's chart success, Marr left the group in August 1987 due to a strained relationship with Morrissey. Failing to find a replacement, The Smiths disbanded by the time their final studio album, “Strangeways, Here We Come,” was released in September that year. “Strangeways, Here We Come” reached #2 in the UK and became the band's highest-charting release in the United States when it reached #55 on the Billboard 200.
In early 1992, WEA acquired the entire back catalogue of The Smiths. After re-releasing the band's original studio albums and the three compilations produced before they disbanded, WEA produced two singles compilations – “Best...I” and “...Best II” – the first of which reached the top of the UK Albums Chart. WEA released two further singles compilations in 1995 and 2001, with a further compilation, “The Sound of The Smiths,” released in November 2008.