It takes a particular confidence for one unknown musician to pronounce to another that their first meeting has the hallmarks of legend. But then Johnny Marr, eighteen years old when he arrived uninvited at the Stretford home of Steven Patrick Morrissey one afternoon in May of 1982, had such confidence in abundance; what he did not have, and it was the reason he had come knocking on the door of the nondescript semidetached council house at 384 Kings Road that day, was a partner for his singular talent on the guitar.

Steven Morrissey, a writer of speculative merit and a singer of absolutely no repute whatsoever, managed but sporadic bursts of self-assurance. Though he had been a figure about town since punk rock had exploded in Manchester with a special vigor back in 1976, and was respected, even liked, for his quick wit and bookish intellect, he frequently retreated into a shyness that, as he later penned with devastating certitude, was “criminally vulgar.” Unlike Marr, who seemed to be on first-name terms with almost everyone involved in Manchester street culture, Morrissey could count his friends on the fingers of one hand. He lived on Kings Road with his divorced mother. He was unemployed—by choice, for sure, but unemployed all the same. He was turning twenty-three that month. By any standard measurement, time appeared to be passing him by.

Aware of  Morrissey’s shyness, Marr did not  show up alone. He was accompanied on his mission by Stephen Pomfret, a mutual guitar-playing acquaintance whose presence was perhaps justified by the painfully long time it took Morrissey to descend from his bedroom to the front door. But once Pomfret had made the introductions, then Marr, not known to waste his time on trivialities, announced that he was on a quest for a singer and lyricist, and Morrissey, not previously known to accept strangers into his life at first glance, promptly invited the visitors in. MORE

NME: Johnny Marr has recorded a solo cover of The Smiths’ classic ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.’ The guitarist performed the track during a BBC Radio 2 session with Dermot O’ Leary over the weekend (December 1). MORE