Morrissey was born Steven Patrick Morrissey on May 22, 1959, in Davyhulme, Lancashire, England. Often lonely and depressed through his teenage years, Morrissey turned to music. He became obsessed with U.S. band The New York Dolls and was the president of their UK fan club. Due to this involvement he became one of the first listeners of punk rock. He also later founded the UK chapter of the fan club for The Cramps. In the late 1970s, Morrissey briefly fronted both Slaughter & the Dogs and The Nosebleeds until both bands broke up.
In 1982, Morrissey, who had turned to writing books about his favorite bands, made a life-changing decision when he met and began writing songs with Johnny Marr. The two recruited bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce to form The Smiths. They were signed to Rough Trade Records and released the non-charting single "Hand In Glove" in early 1983 before releasing "This Charming Man" later that year. The second single found its way to number 25, and The Smiths' popularity began to rise. They released a third single, the number 12 charting "What Difference Does It Make," shortly before releasing their debut album, The Smiths, in February 1984. The album was a smash hit, reaching number two in the UK, and was only rivaled by the band's second album Meat is Murder, released in 1985. Meat is Murder was the only Smiths album to reach number one. Fellow alternative rocker Scott Weiland would later cover the Smiths song "Reel Around the Fountain."
The Smiths were internationally famous, but by the time their third studio album was completed, cracks were beginning to appear in the band's structure. They had begun a legal dispute with their label, which caused their third album, The Queen is Dead, to be completed seven months late. In addition, Marr was beginning to feel strain from the band's touring and recording schedule. To top it off, Rourke was fired by Morrissey for his heroin use, only to be subsequently re-hired two weeks later. The legal dispute with Rough Trade caused the band to switch to more mainstream label EMI. The fractures in the band continued, particularly between Morrissey and Marr, and eventually the latter left the band. The rest were unable to find a replacement and parted ways shortly thereafter. Their fourth and last studio album Strangeways, Here We Come, was released in 1987. Both it and The Queen is Dead reached number two.
Embarking on a solo career, Morrissey released Viva Hate six months after his departure from The Smiths. The album partially spoke of his feelings about the breakup of The Smiths. It was a hit, debuting at number one. Morrissey next released Kill Uncle in March 1991. However, due to the drastic change in style of the album as compared to past Morrissey works, it did not fare as well, reaching number eight. His third studio album, Your Arsenal, also struggled to reach the same success as his first album, though it did better than Kill Uncle. According to All Music Guide, the album may have failed to chart higher due to the misinterpretation of some lyrics as sympathetic to the British Nationalist Front, a white nationalist political party, as well as anti-Americanism. Nevertheless, the album did have an impact on some other artists such as David Bowie, who did a cover of "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" and Reel Big Fish, who did a cover of "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful."
Morrissey finally had another number one hit with 1994's Vauxhall and I. The title of the album refers to the Vauxhall area of London. Fueled by the loss of friends Mick Ronson, Tim Broad, and Nigel Thomas, and mixing guitar rock, acoustic ballads, and classic rock, it is a significantly different work than other Morrissey albums. Yet it didn't suffer the lyrical downfalls of Kill Uncle, which helped the album become more successful than the first time Morrissey experimented with different sounds. That success didn't last, however. The next two albums, Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, were two more departures from classic Morrissey that fans didn't find appealing, though Southpaw did reach number four on the UK charts.
After these two albums, Morrissey didn't release another album for seven years, though he did continue to tour during that time. In 2003, Morrissey returned to the studio and recorded You Are the Quarry, which brought him back to the mainstream. Released in May 2004, it reached number two in the UK and number 11 in the U.S., making it his highest charting album in that country to date. It also became his first platinum certified album and is his most successful to date in terms of sales. The newfound success continued with 2006's Ringleader of the Tormentors, which reached number one, Morrissey's highest charting album since Vauxhall and I twelve years earlier. Morrissey has additionally released two live albums and eight compilation albums. He's also made appearances in the song "Tomorrow" by Steve Peck, "First of the Gang to Die" from the film Glastonbury the Film and "Suedehead" from Sparks.