Angst-fuelled Indie pop icon, Morrissey, full name Steven Patrick Morrissey, lead singer with classic eighties band The Smiths was arrested in April 1986 after The Smiths’ sell-out show at the Leadmill in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The dour Mancunian tunesmith, noted for his trademark ‘intelligent student’ image, was interviewed on allegations of incitement relating to his infamous song ‘Shoplifters of the world unite’ and with falsely using a ‘Disabled’ sticker in his car.
Denying that his plaintive ode to the disenchanted was meant in anyway to promote shoplifting as a career choice to teenagers, the quiff-tousled warbler apologized for any confusion that the song may have caused and stated that he always voted Conservative.
It’s believed that the title to The Smiths’ final album was inspired by the event, through guitarist Johnny Marr’s throwaway remark on seeing Morrissey cuffed by police in the band’s Leadmill dressing room: ‘Strangeways here we come’; though in fact the most likely place of any incarceration would have been Lindholme Prison near Doncaster.
The singer was released from custody without charge after further admitting that he was not in fact deaf, and the hearing aid he affected on stage was simply an ironic prop. He agreed to remove the orange badge from his Vauxhall Chevette as soon as possible.
The Smiths, darlings of the music press during the height of Thatcher’s Britain, and who released their first single in 1983, spilt up acrimoniously in 1988 after Marr discovered drummer Mike Joyce eating a pork pie backstage at the Reading festival.