The Smiths Top Of The Pops Debut Put Indie On The Map

The Smiths Top Of The Pops Debut Put Indie On The Map

the smiths, 1985
The Smiths live on UK TV. Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns.

UK indie icons, The Smiths have recently shared footage of their first appearance on the British TV institution, Top of the Pops in 1983 – an iconic moment in the band’s history and for the indie genre they ushered into the mainstream at the time.

Bathed in pink light, an androgynous Morrissey swoons literary offerings over the sweet jangle pop of a young Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, and Mike Joyce, while wielding a bunch of gladioli as though they’re alternatively a microphone and weapon. Vulnerable, obscure and fearlessly tough – It’s fair to say that this performance of “This Charming Man” on the show left an unforgettable impression on millions of young viewers!

The Smiths | “This Charming Man” [Live on Top of The Pops '83]

“Everyone remembers the flowers Morrissey took on to the show. I’d been very aware of how powerful Top of the Pops could be visually, from my childhood watching T. Rex,” guitarist Johnny Marr said in a 2011 piece he wrote for The Guardian about the experience. “At the time, there’d been this question of whether it was cool to go on Top of the Pops, probably from the Clash refusing to do it. But we were a new generation and it felt like there were new rules.”

They certainly were a vast juxtaposition from the glitterball styled performances that had tended to precede their debut appearance; but The Smiths’ dark romantic, indie sound had the audience hooked. When they returned two years later, for this Valentine’s Day performance of “How Soon Is Now?” the Top of the Pops presenter introduced the band with a bold declaration that, “If you have taste, you’ll appreciate that Meat Is Murder is the best album around at the moment.” Watch below:

The Smiths | “How Soon is Now?” [Live on Top of The Pops '85]

The band appeared on Top Of The Pops many more times in the years that followed, hopefully they will be sharing more of these treasured performances via their social media channels! Follow The Smiths here.  

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