Robert Smith: The early years

As it’s RS’s birthday today, here are some quotes from the archive about his childhood, school and upbringing.

“I was born in Blackpool and the first few years of my life were spent up there. When I came down South, I actually had quite a broad Northern accent and the piss was taken out of me mercilessly at school. That probably didn’t help me integrate.”  (Q, February 2000)

“My first really clear memory is arriving at Victoria Station on a steam train. Steam trains! That dates me, doesn’t it?” (Smash Hits, May 1986)

Smith, Dempsey and Thompson in the early days, as seen in the Ten Imaginary Years book

“[My accent] always stuck out at school, which I never realised at the time – I thought everyone was saying ‘grass’ incorrectly – but I toned it down on purpose when I got into my teens. By then I think it would have bee a bit pretentious to have affected a Northern accent…”  (No 1, October 1987)

“I wore lipstick at school. I copied the lipstick from my mum, not Siouxsie, although there are similarities between the two. I’ve worn make-up to varying degrees since I was 13, bit I do wear less now than I used to.” (Q, February 2000)

“I did three ‘A’ levels – failed Biology miserably, scraped through French and got a ‘B’ in English. Then I spent 8 or 9 months on social security until they stopped my money, so I thought ‘Now’s the time to make a demo and see what people think’.” (Smash Hits, May 1986)

“I had five weeks as a gardener on an industrial estate in the height of summer and they were five of the happiest weeks of my life.”  (Sounds, September 1979)

“I never get bored, never.  Never in my whole life. I don’t see how you could be bored, when you’ve got everything inside your head. I suppose you could be bored if you had a job that required a degree of concentration, making sure everything went in the right place that it actually excluded thought. I’ve only ever had two jobs, both of them for less than a week. I’m not particularly suited  to employment.” (No 1, October 1987)

“Imagination and what’s called unreality are obviously inextricably lined with reality.  It’s either an escape from it or it’s a way to explain it. Your imagination can’t be divorced from your waking life, it’s impossible.” (Melody Maker, October 1983)

“The realisation of your own death is the only important thing in your life.” (Filter, Summer 2004)

“People tell me that deprivation breeds good music and all that, but quite often real poverty causes desperation more than anything else. Why do you have to be born in poverty to know what’s going on? Quite often I find it’s the other way round. I you don’t have to fight for you existence every day you can maybe take time out to think. Whether you do anything about it is a different matter. (Sounds, September 1979)

“I fucking hate the idea of normal. Normal is all that’s bad about living. All that’s boring about life. Why be normal?  To be honest, I have no idea what normal is.” (Filter, Summer 2004)


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