10 questions for Johnny Marr

First guitar, wishlist gear, current faves and more...

1: What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

"My first guitar was a little wooden toy thing, bought in a haberdashery shop in Manchester in 1967, when I was four years old. Humble beginnings, as they say..."

2: The building's burning down - what guitar from your collection would you save?

"My red Gibson ES-355. It's the most famous of the guitars I own, so I'd have to grab that one."

3: What song would you play on acoustic around the campfire?

"Hmm, a campfire song, eh? I'd have to go with That's The Way by Led Zeppelin. That would sound pretty good at night round the campfire, I think."

4: Is there a guitar you regret letting go?

"Noel Gallagher's got my black Les Paul that I used on the album The Queen Is Dead. But he's a good boy, so I'll let it go"

"[Laughs] That's a tricky one. Noel Gallagher's got my black Les Paul that I used on the album The Queen Is Dead. But he's a good boy, so I'll let it go. There's another answer to the Noel thing: I was drinking a lot in those days! But I like to help other musicians out.

"I know that I got a lot of helping hands when I was starting out. Some people were very generous to me; without them, I wouldn't have gotten to where I am. What goes around comes around. With Noel, the guitars went to a really good home. He wrote some great stuff with them, so it all worked out.

"I've given quite a few away over the years. I gave one to Chrissie Hynde, and Bernard Butler has my ES-335 12-string that I used on Strangeways, Here We Come and with the Talking Heads. I've given [The The singer- songwriter] Matt Johnson a guitar, too.

"I've been very happy to hang out with the Radiohead guys, and I loaned them guitars for In Rainbows. You recognise kindred spirits. I'm proud of that kind of thing."

5: What's the next piece of gear you'd like to acquire?

"I wouldn't mind having a 1968 doubleneck Gibson EDS-1275 six-and 12-string. I'm not joking - I'd love to have one."

6: What are you doing five minutes before you go onstage...

"Painting my nails. And I'm not joking about that, either! [Laughs]"

7: ... And five minutes after?

"I'm hugging the bass player and kicking the drummer."

8: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you onstage?

"Having the singer walking off and not coming back. That's a bad thing to happen, right?"

"I'd like to dispel the notion that everything I do is either 'jangle' or 'jingle'. I'm not one of Santa Claus' elves, man"

9: Is there an aspect of guitar playing that you'd like to be better at?

"Yeah. I'd like to get better at expression through vocabulary. There's always something new to learn."

10: Is there a myth about you, or your guitar playing, that you'd like to set straight?

"Sure. I'd like to dispel the notion that everything I do is either 'jangle' or 'jingle'. I'm not one of Santa Claus' elves, man - I do kick in. But there's something else: there's this idea that The Smiths were fey. We weren't fey at all. Even when we were light, we were still heavy."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Bosso is a musician and journalist from New Jersey, USA. He is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine and ex-Vice President of A&R at Island Records