Pic: Lawrence Watson

Former Smiths lead singer Morrissey is returning to his home town for a concert at the Manchester Arena after a four year absence – his only show in the UK this year. It’s on August 20 and tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow, Friday July 8th.

Morrissey is undoubtedly a Mancunian icon, whatever your opinion of him may be. Born and raised here, in his formative years he ‘just simply sat in and read and watched television and done all the things that in life are generally considered to be quite negative’, before going on to form one the most famous bands of all time.  The Smiths split in 1987 and he has since pursued a solo career. To celebrate his return, we look at some facts that connect Moz to Manchester you may not have known.

1His first home was in Hulme

Many people wrongly believe that he grew up in Salford (probably due to his connection to the Salford Lads Club). However, Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Park Hospital, Davyhulme (now Trafford General) on May 22, 1959 before being taken to the family home at 17 Harper Street in Hulme. His family moved to 384 Kings Road, Stretford in 1970.

2He tried to write for Coronation Street

Growing up, he was a big Corrie fan (there was a certain Coronation Street next to The Salford Lads Club) and sent a number of scripts to Granada TV, the show’s producers. They were all rejected.

3He met Johnny Marr in the foyer of the Apollo

There are many tales of Marr showing up at the front door at Morrissey’s family home – and this is true –  but before that, it was on the night of August 31 1978, four years before The Smiths was formed, that Morrissey and Marr first met. The scene, Manchester’s Apollo Theatre, and the occasion – a Patti Smith concert. Apparently, one of the first things 14-year old Johnny Marr said to Morrissey, 19, was “You’ve got a funny voice.” Charming!

4You can visit ‘the iron bridge’

In Still Ill, a 1984 Smiths track, there are the famous lines ‘under the iron bridge we kissed/And although I ended up with sore lips’.  Ah Morrissey, charming as ever. It is thought that the bridge itself was close to where St. Mary’s Secondary School in Stretford used to stand. It’s now the site of a housing estate, but the bridge itself is still there, covered in Smiths graffiti. It’s across the railway line between Kings Road and Renton Road.

5Drinking in the city

According to his autobiography (a Penguin Classic!), Morrissey used to drink in the Three Legs O’Man (which is still there, on the border of Stretford and Hulme) and The Unicorn (presumably the one in The Northern Quarter).

6He was a George Best fan

Usually scathing about footballers, Morrissey had a soft spot for the Manchester United legend. In his autobiography he reflects: “Arbitrarily illiterate, football players remained in the stuckness of their own dull social units until George Best spoke and teased and joked and made sense.”

7Salford Lads Club is still going

Built in 1903 in the Ordsall area of Salford to keep youths off the streets, the striking red brick Salford Lads Club was immortalised when The Smiths posed in front of the building for the inside cover of The Queen is Dead album. The photographs were taken by Lawrence Watson and can be viewed, together with lots of less well known shots of Morrissey, at the Future Artists Gallery on Chapel Street, two minutes from Deansgate. Morrissey donated to the refurbishment of the Salford Lads Club, where there is a Smiths-inspired ‘shrine.’ The club still holds regular community events and is open to the public on certain weekends. Check the website for details.

8The church in the song Vicar in a Tutu

Morrissey sings about antics on Oxford Road in this song – as ‘I was minding my business lifting some lead off the roof of the Holy Name Church’. This is the towering Catholic church with a 185-ft tall spire built in 1871 close to the universities. You can still visit it today. Just leave the lead alone.

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