Mark E. Smith, frontman for the influential British post-punk act The Fall, has died. He was 60 years old. The cause of death is currently unknown.
“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith. He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days. In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.”
Smith was born in Lancaster, England, in 1957 and formed the Fall in 1976. Smith was the nucleus of the band, which had a steadily rotating cast with more than 60 different members over its 40 year existence—he was the only active member at every point in its history.
Smith’s work was prolific across multiple decades with his band, starting with Bingo-Master’s Break Out! EP in 1978. Although they never quite broke through to the mainstream in either the UK or U.S., the Fall consistently released critically-celebrated LPs over the years—especially in the early ‘80s, which included the impressive run of 1983's Perverted by Language, 1984's The Wonderful and Frightening World Of..., and The Nation’s Saving Grace in 1985.
Smith was a notoriously prickly, abrasive figure in dealing with the press and other artists. In 1998, he was arrested in New York for attacking his then-girlfriend and keyboardist for the Fall, Julie Nagle.
Last year, the band released its 32nd studio album, New Facts Emerge, and had an international tour planned. Smith canceled the Fall’s 2017 U.S. tour dates after he was hospitalized for “bizarre and rare medical issues...connected to his throat, mouth/dental & respiratory system.” He eventually performed onstage in a wheelchair in the UK last October.
We’ll update as more information surfaces.