Mark E. Smith, "Heroes, part I: His Influences"

Melody Maker, Sept. 27, 1986, p. 33

[Thanks to the SEAT OF PLAQUE for posting this article, and for the following preface...]

Many thanks to (whoever it was) for their generous offer of a curly wurly. At a mere 15 pence each, I became so excited that I tried 2 buy 4, but had to put one back. So, in shamed repentance for greed I've transcribed one of the more interesting articles ever to appear in MELODY MAKER. Originally published on September 27th 1986 as part of a series, it is blissfully unpolluted etc... Sit up straight in your swivel-chairs and meet the heroes-by-proxy of FallNet:-



Probably one of the greatest Hollywood script writers to have ever put pen to paper. He wrote things like 'Citizen Kane' and some Marx Brothers' stuff, but he was so obnoxious to all the Hollywood producers he was hardly ever employed. One time he went round to mogul Harry Cohn's house for a lavish dinner and drunk so much he puked up all over the table. He just turned to Cohn and said: "It's all right the fish came up with the white wine!" The only man ever to be sick and civilised at the same time. He was a compulsive gambler as well as a sarcastic bastard. He never got credited for the Marx Brothers' stuff he wrote and the rest of the family including his more famous brother Joseph all hated him because he just wanted to gamble all day and drink all night and insult the film establishment. Cohn used to say that if a film was any good he'd twitch down the back. Herman came out and said: "Just think, the whole world is wired to Harry Cohn's arse." He never worked after the age of 32. He was a cool writer.



The Manchester City left winger from '67-'70. He was the wild man of City - the Keith Moon of soccer - completely ungovernable. He used to vomit before every game because he was so nervous. His kit was always dirty, he used to have big boils over his face, but he was the only one who scored any goals, I used to remember him when I used to watch City in those days and they were like a team full of freaks. They still won the championship. United had millions of pounds and City had to buy blokes from Doncaster Rovers. They were a joke, but the championship was ours. All Mancunians support City - only outsiders support United (joke). When I was at school, there were only ever three City fans and thousands of United fans.

Every City game I watch I think is great, but watching Coleman unhinge the United defence when we beat them 3-1 at Old Trafford was brilliant. I quite like Bryan Robson despite everything. It's Bobby Robson that wants shooting.



Montgomery made the British army really cool. If you've ever talked to a soldier, they're always well into Montgomery. He revolutionised the way the army fought wars because his whole policy was to win a battle with the least number of casualties. Up until that time the generals just used to order the cannon fodder into the front line - first Glasgow, then Yorkshire, then the Midlands - all expendable. There's a lot of bullshit talked about the Second World War. The Germans should have given up two years before. They lost most of their troops fighting the Russians. By the time people like Patton came along the Germans were defending a town with two 13-year old boys and a couple of rusted rifles. Montgomery never used to wear the uniform either. He also used to have doubles of himself travelling all over the world. These two actors went around to try and confuse the Germans. Gene Vincent used to have doubles as well. During his 50-date tours of Japan he only used to sing once a week. The rest of the time it was some Japanese double and no one ever noticed the difference.



He was a funny old stick, Wyndham Lewis, the most underrated writer this century. I can't believe how good his stuff is when I'm reading it. He was a much better writer than he was a painter. People always say that Paul Morley ripped off Lewis, which is bollocks. WE ripped off Lewis, and Morley stole his ideas from us! The thing that pissed me off is that ZTT uses his ideas and then put them into a context that Lewis would have hated. He loathed the futurists. His stories are great; things like 'The Crowd Master' in Blast. What a great title for a story. Wyndham Lewis is so real and so now. He wrote a book about Hitler in 1934 saying that this is maybe the way forward and was condemned during and after the war for being a Nazi. Yet in another book, 'Rotting Hill', he says he wrote an essay in 1938 to say that he was completely wrong and that Hitler had to be stopped. The critics made sure he was only remembered one way - the wrong way. He was a real man though. He'd always be the first to condemn himself if he got something wrong. He went for the critics before they went ever got to him. I like people than can admit to their mistakes. When people ask me about The Fall back in '77 and the whole punk thing I say it was shit. Everyone hated us. Punk bands hated us. Even we hated us! I'm not going to lie about it. It's hard, but I like people that are real and tell the truth. His books are hard to read but if you stick with them they're great. "Rude Assignment' - what a title! 'Rotting Hill' is the greatest phrase I've heard in my life. It's so simple you'd never think of it. The things he was talking about in 1911, people are just beginning to talk about now. A man years ahead of his time.



Completely insane. None of it makes any sense and it's all the funniest thing ever.



The narrator of 'The Untouchables'. I used to watch the show when I was a kid, and I saw a few episodes last year and I realised just how good they are. The show was completely surreal. Winchell's diction when he was standing in front of that mike reporting gang wars and such like was amazing. No one can copy it. I never knew who was responsible for that voice until last week. He was also a right-wing hack.



I saw him in the Seventies with Bowie but I didn't like him then. His bands were never up to his standards. I'm a big Stooges fan. That first Stooges album is still the best album he's made. I bought it with me first week's wages when I was an office junior. I only bought it for the cover. When I went into Virgin Records in Manchester they all sneered at me from the counter so I knew I must be onto something good. I remember playing it and thinking it sounded exactly like the Rolling Stones, only miles better. Iggy said that they were so busy causing chaos in those early days that when they came to record this album they only had four songs, and the record company thought all of those were shit! He went back and wrote the whole album in a night! That's why all the songs have the same three chords.



Like I say, United isn't exactly my favourite team, but Best was in a class of his own. They hounded him out of football because he was far too talented. In him there's the story of British soccer - anyone with any talent was mercilessly gunned down. He never used to train or anything, but he was brilliant even when he was playing for Hibs at the end of his career. I met him once at a club and he was dead nice and dead clever. I was dead surprised. He knows one hell of a lot about soccer, you wouldn't believe it. He said to me that if he pulled 40,000 people a week he should be able to do what he wanted and he was right. He was always into entertaining the crowd.



Another cool writer that was years ahead of his time. He's been a big influence on my lyrics. Books like 'Time Out Of Joint' and 'The Man In The High Castle' are the weirdest stories, but most people have only heard of him because 'Bladerunner' was based on one of his books. He had to write a lot to make money so some of his stuff isn't up to much, but his best stuff is fabulous. A friend of mine in LA actually met him and gave him a Fall album in 1978 and he thought it was great. That was a real blast. It was shortly after that he died. I got a book the other day called 'The Man Whose Teeth Were All The Same Size' and I couldn't believe it. It sounds like one of our song titles!



He's a bit like Harry Dean Stanton only better. He was brilliant as Nixon.



He's the bloke that does most of The Fall artwork. He deserves some recognition because he's very good. A teenage genius. I seem to like people that are ahead of their time... except Walter Winchell, who probably didn't even know what the time was!



The American wrestler. One day they'll show some American wrestling on British telly and that day can't come too soon. It's the most surreal form of cinema I've ever seen. I couldn't believe it - the fights only last about two seconds and the rest of the programmes are bizarre interviews with Hulk and his opponents and flashbacks and guys bragging about how much money they've got. It's bullshit, but brilliant.



Have to mention the wife.