“Many people think I was doing it all on the Rickenbacker in the ’80s, but a lot of the clean arpeggio stuff was done on a Les Paul”: Johnny Marr on the most prized guitars in his collection – and why they might not be what you expect

Johnny Marr – somewhere in North America — with a Gibson Les Paul Custom during the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead tour, 1986;
(Image credit: Nalinee Darmrong)

Johnny Marr has long been known as “the man who would not solo”. But that’s kinda inaccurate, as Marr has soloed, sometimes in decidedly sing-song fashion, like on the Smiths’ Shoplifters of the World, for example. So maybe, Marr should be known as “the man who used crystal-clear arpeggios and interesting chord inversions rather than pulling off divebombs via big-ass amps” instead. Then again, legends via folklore aren’t born through literalism.

Anyway, as per the perpetual positive vibes slung Marr’s way, we can agree that he’s the proverbial king of the antiheroes – regardless of whether he solos. None of that has mattered to Marr, though, as he continues to craft landscape-defining indie music. But beyond that music, Marr’s life has been defined by utter devotion to all things six-string.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.