Mark E. Smith, the firebrand frontman of British post-punk legends the Fall, has died. He was 60 years old. The band's manager, Pamela Vander, confirmed his death in a short statement published to the Fall's social media accounts today, January 24th. "It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith," it reads. "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." His cause of death has not yet been disclosed.
Born in 1957 and raised in Manchester, England, Mark E. Smith formed the Fall in 1976, shortly after witnessing a Sex Pistols concert that inspired him to start a band of his own. Their debut EP, 1978's Bingo-Master's Break Out!, established the hypnotic, abrasive paradigms – manifested as a dizzying mélange of punk, folk, country and kraut-rock — for which the group would become renowned. The Fall's distinctive, unsettling sound would go on to inspire bands of all stripes, including heavier acts such as Sonic Youth (who covered several the Fall songs on a 1998 episode of John Peel's BBC 1 radio show), Faith No More, Meat Puppets and Big Black.
A famously tempestuous musician, Smith was the Fall's sole creative constant, as well as its ipso facto figurehead; he hired and fired 66 different band members throughout band's 40-year-plus history. To call him prolific would be an understatement: Smith released 32 full-lengths with the Fall prior to his death, the most recent being last year's New Facts Emerge. Outside of his main band, Smith collaborated with Gorillaz, Elastica, Inspiral Carpets, among other artists. He also penned an autobiography, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith, which was published in 2008.