Former Smiths guitarist Marr is delighted to be going it alone

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MUSIC legend - and don’t quibble with that introduction for this man definitely is - Johnny Marr is playing his first ever solo tour, 30 years after he first found fame with The Smiths.

And better still, you don’t have to go far to catch the Manc maestro - Marr is playing 53 Degrees in Preston on Friday March 8.

The only downside is that it coincides with the Courteeners gig at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool on the same night ... though as the Courteeners has sold out, getting tickets for Marr’s gig would be a nice consolation for anyone who missed out.

Marr, 49, is one of the most respected musicians in Britain, having worked with a who’s who of music’s biggest names, most notably as one half of Britain’s most iconic songwriting partnerships in The Smiths.

Marr’s career almost took a very different turn. He originally aspired to be a professional footballer and even had a trial for Manchester City, but later said: “They didn’t follow up, probably because I was the only player wearing eyeliner”.

Footie’s loss was music and make-up’s gain as, after playing in various bands throughout his college days, Marr was introduced to Morrissey in 1982 and things took off.

After a year of gigging, including a string of landmark sets at Manchester’s Hacienda, The Smiths released ‘Hand in Glove’ in 1983, and became one of the 1980s most prolific and defining acts.

Along with frontman Morrissey’s bittersweet delivery, Marr’s jangly guitar style became the defining sound of The Smiths and, arguably, the defining sound of British indie music right up until the present day.

Marr is responsible for some of the 80s finest moments with The Smiths, unleashing four celebrated albums (including songs like This Charming Man, How Soon Is Now?, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before) and just as much B-side material in the space of a few short years, influencing a whole wave of guitarists.

After The Smiths, Marr went on to play with bands like The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse, Electronic (alongside New Order’s Bernard Sumner) and Yorkshire indie group The Cribs (who are also playing 53 Degrees, on February 21).

He has also guested on stage with fellow Mancunian icons Oasis, remixed the Pet Shop Boys, and worked alongside Crowded House frontman Neil Finn. With this tour he’s finally taking centre stage, promoting new album The Messenger, which contains the rather fine single Upstarts.

Tickets £16.25 available from www.lancashiretickets.com