The Smiths’ Johnny Marr & Andy Rourke play together on first new song in 35 years (listen)

Though The Smiths' breakup was acrimonious to say the least and has gotten moreso over the years, guitarist Johnny Marr and bassist Andy Rourke, who were friends before The Smiths, have remained close. Marr has brought out Rourke at many of his NYC shows -- most recently at Madison Square Garden when he opened for The Killers -- and now he appears on the new track from Blitz Vega, the duo of Rourke and sometimes Happy Mondays member Kav Blaggers. It's the first time Marr and Rourke have been on a track together since The Smiths broke up in 1987.

"Strong Forever" is anthemic, danceable Britpop, somewhere between Oasis and Kasabian, and Marr brings his signature chiming, jangly style to the song. "I wanted exactly what Johnny does. He has a very distinctive sound, and that’s what he did. We love what he brought to the track," Rourke told Rolling Stone. “We’ve remained friends, we’ve known each other since we were 13 years old. He’s my oldest and dearest friend and I feel our friendship gets stronger as time passes.”

The song, which has been in the works since 2020, originally featured Kasabian's Tom Meighan, but after he pled guilty to domestic assault, Blaggers re-recorded the vocal himself. The band say they'll have more singles out in early 2023 and an eight-song vinyl 12" out for Record Store Day.

Johnny Marr also plays on Noel Gallagher's new single, joining a long list of notable collaborations.