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  • Published: 3 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473536364
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 9 hr 28 min

Set the Boy Free

The autobiography of one the most influential guitarists and artists of all time.

‘I saw Johnny Marr live in person, with The Smiths. He was light on his feet; like quicksilver. He caused the band to swing like crazy. And he smoked his cigarette like a star. I’ve been influenced ever since.’ Iggy Pop

Johnny Marr was born in 1960s Manchester to Irish emigrant parents and knew from an early age that he would be a musician. Forming his first band at thirteen, Marr spent his teenage years on the council estates of Wythenshawe playing guitar, devouring pop culture and inventing his own musical style.

It wasn't until the early eighties, when Marr turned up on the doorstep of a singer named Steven Patrick Morrissey, that both a unique songwriting partnership and the group recognised as one of the most iconic bands of all time were formed. In 1983 The Smiths released their first single, and within a year their eponymous debut album reached number two in the UK chart, paving the way for mainstream and critical success on their own terms.

For Marr, tensions within the band and desire for a wider musical scope led to his departure from The Smiths in 1987, ensuring the end of one of the most influential British groups of a generation.

But this was just the beginning for Marr. From forming Electronic and The Healers to playing with Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, Kirsty MacColl, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Nile Rodgers and Bert Jansch. From joining The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs to recently collaborating with Hans Zimmer and receiving acclaim and worldwide success in his own right as a solo artist, Marr has never stopped. Here, for the first time, he tells his own side of the story.

From roaming the streets of Manchester to constantly pushing musical boundaries as the most loved guitarist Britain has ever produced, Johnny Marr’s memoir is the true history of music - told by one of its very own legends.

  • Published: 3 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473536364
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 9 hr 28 min

About the author

Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr is a musician and songwriter. Between 1982 and 1987 he was the guitarist and co-founder of The Smiths. He is now an established solo artist who has released two albums, The Messenger and Playland, to date. He currently lives in Manchester.

Praise for Set the Boy Free

. . . wise, breezy, supersmart memoir . . . Marr’s defiantly unghostwritten book is pleasant and direct . . .


An unpretentious, clearly written memoir recounting his journey from a working-class upbringing on the outskirts of Manchester to his status as a musical polymath

The Times

Set the Boy Free – a telling title again – is much more than an obituary for a brilliant band. It’s also a love letter to the women in Marr’s life … and a guide on how to keep changing and moving on with your creative life.

The Observer

It is a pleasure …. to read a memoir by a five-star guitar hero that … present[s] a particular life in rock as one of pure, disarming joy and open possibility

New Statesman

The perfect book for aspiring musicians

Evening Standard


The Sun

Set the Boy Free is a trip down memory lane featuring the all-star cast that Marr has rubbed shoulders with … and it will likely serve as a guidebook to anyone who's ever dreamed about picking up the guitar and trying their hand at making music for a living because, at its heart, Set the Boy Free is written by a music fan for music fans.


His sweetly and deceptively simple account of his lively youth and The Smith’s early, joyous years … will touch many

Mail on Sunday

Grounded and positive


His writing is compassionate, courageous and concerned


Set The Boy Free tells the ordinary yet fascinating story of arguably one of the most influential guitar players of all time

The Pool

An excellent memoir. . . Stars don't come much brighter than Johnny Marr … And it's a pleasure to hear the story from the man himself

Manchester Evening News

Smiths fans will love it for the insight into the songs … He is relentlessly upbeat and positive

RTÉ Radio Arena Show

Set The Boy Free aims to set the record straight on the story of one of rock’s most contentious break–ups

Hot Press

Marr’s directness is refreshing

AV Club

A must read for indie fans

Vive le Rock

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