The Smiths started the sharp ascent of their iconic career on March 23, 1983 with their first-ever London gig at the Rockgarden.
Morrissey's morose lyrics punctuated by Johnny Marr's refreshingly unique Rickenbacker guitar playing was so new at the time, it was hard for some to describe. On the Rockgarden flyer they were billed as: "difficult to pigeon-hole, leans towards pop and the dance floor."
The Brits from Manchester, including Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums, went on to become one of the most influential bands to come out of England in the '80s. According to Q magazine's Simon Goddard, they were "the first indie outsiders to achieve mainstream success on their own terms." In a 2002 NME poll, they were named the "most influential artist ever," surpassing the Beatles.
In opposition to the "pretentious" trend of flamboyant band names like Spandau Ballet and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Morrissey reportedly chose "The Smiths" because it was ordinary. They released their debut album, The Smiths, in 1984, which hit the UK Charts. They followed up with a string of successes which also made Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time including, Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987).
Watch them back at the beginning in 1983: