‘Morrissey was yodelling with his legs in the air. There was shock in the front row‘
Johnny [Marr] and Morrissey had done a gig at the Ritz with Dale Hibbert on bass, and then Johnny asked me to join. I’d known him since I was 11, and we’d always been in bands together. The year before we’d been in a band called Freak Party with Si Wolstencroft, the drummer who later played with the Fall; I think we got too funky for Johnny, who wanted to go somewhere else. Then suddenly I got a call: “I’ve got this new band.”
The first time we played together, we recorded the demos for Handsome Devil and Miserable Lie. That was also the first time I met Morrisseyand Mike [Joyce]. Within two weeks, I played my first gig, in a tiny gay club called the Manhattan Sound. I was very nervous. We all were. Johnny was expert at throwing up through nerves. Tony Wilson was there, and there was no stage: we played on the dancefloor.
Morrissey was this very quiet, unassuming person, but as soon as he went on he became something different. It took your breath away. He had a pocket full of confetti and threw it over the audience, which none of us expected. James Maker introduced the band in French and danced wearing stilettos and playing maracas. He was the gay Bez. But I think we realised it was gilding the lily a bit; we already had a frontman who was this strange, exotic creature no one could understand.
The lineup proper debuted at the Haçienda on 4 February 1983. It was a freezing cold, empty warehouse, showing weird films at the side of the stage. Johnny and I used to go five or six days a week; sometimes it felt like we were the only people in there. This was years before [DJ] Mike Pickering and ecstasy and all that. It was very grey. It needed a bit of colour and light, and hopefully that’s what we brought. We were rehearsed to death, so we always sounded great.Everything happened very quickly after that.