Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May 1959), known as Morrissey, is an English singer and lyricist. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as the lyricist and vocalist of the alternative rock band The Smiths. The band was highly successful in the United Kingdom but broke up in 1987, and Morrissey began a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart on ten occasions. Widely regarded as an important innovator in indie music, Morrissey has been described by music magazine NME as "one of the most influential artists ever," and The Independent has stated "most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status he has reached in his lifetime." Pitchfork Media has called him "one of the most singular figures in Western popular culture from the last twenty years."
Morrissey's lyrics have been described as "dramatic, bleak, funny vignettes about doomed relationships, lonely nightclubs, the burden of the past and the prison of the home." He is also noted for his unique baritone vocal style (though he is known to sometimes use falsetto for emphasis), his quiff haircut and his dynamic live performances. His forthright, often contrarian opinions, especially on the subject of race, have led to a number of media controversies, and he has also attracted media attention for his advocacy of vegetarianism and animal rights.
Music industry feudsMorrissey has criticised singers like Madonna, Elton John and George Michael, generally claiming their lyrics are pointless and they are more interested in being celebrities than in their music. He has also had disagreements with The Cure's Robert Smith, who stated "If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I'll eat meat; that's how much I hate Morrissey." Lol Tolhurst, another founding member of the Cure, has claimed he likes Morrissey's music; however, he also said Smith is "quite justified in his ire", alleging their feud was instigated by Morrissey:
"We had never met Morrissey or the Smiths at that point and Morrissey made a very uncalled for remark concerning Robert in the English press. I never understood why as we or Robert had done nothing to upset him that I could think of, but after that it kind of snowballed.... Especially as journalists love feuds!!"
Morrissey also once openly wished Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance author Johnny Rogan "ends his days very soon in an M3 pile-up." Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys co-wrote two songs inspired by Morrissey's public stereotyping as miserable and unlovable ("Getting Away with It" and "Miserablism").
In 1994, Morrissey was criticised by Manic Street Preachers' bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire, in regards to comments Morrissey had made about immigration and national identity in NME. Other targets of his disapproval have been Band Aid, rap and rave music, and teenage pop stars. He once stated he disapproved of reggae – a criticism he later retracted, stating he was being facetious and he grew up partly on the classic singles released by the British reggae label Trojan in the early to mid-1970s.
 Attitude towards political leadersMorrissey has always been politically outspoken, directing his criticism at figures ranging from Oliver Cromwell, the British Royal Family, former British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and former U.S. President George W. Bush. He has criticised both the two main political parties of the United Kingdom, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.
In a 1984 interview, Morrissey spoke of the then-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher: "She is only one person. She can be destroyed. It is the only remedy for this country at the moment." Morrissey's first solo album, Viva Hate, included a track entitled "Margaret on the Guillotine", a tongue-in-cheek jab at Thatcher. British police responded by searching Morrissey's home and carrying out an official investigation, while Simon Reynolds, who had interviewed Morrissey for Melody Maker, was questioned about the tone in which Morrissey had made certain remarks about Thatcher.
At a Dublin concert in June 2004, Morrissey caused controversy by announcing the death of former US President, Ronald Reagan and stating that he would have preferred it if the then current President, George W. Bush, had died. In October 2004, Morrissey released a statement urging American voters to vote for Democratic Party candidate John Kerry for President, calling this vote a "logical and sane move". Morrissey opined that "Bush has single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet."
In February 2006, Morrissey said he had been interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and by British intelligence after having spoken out against the American and British governments. Morrissey said that "They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, it didn't take them long to realise that I am not." During a January 2008 concert Morrissey remarked "God Bless Barack Obama" and ranted against Hillary Clinton after a performance of "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores."
In December 2010, he publicly supported Johnny Marr, who had stated that he forbade British Prime Minister, David Cameron, from liking the Smiths. Morrissey added "I would like to, if I may, offer support to Johnny Marr who has spoken out to the media this week against David Cameron. David Cameron hunts and shoots and kills stags – apparently for pleasure. It was not for such people that either Meat Is Murder or The Queen Is Dead were recorded; in fact, they were made as a reaction against such violence". In his statement, he also lambasted the British Royal Family, noting their continued violence toward animals (in their pursuit of hunting and their use of bearskin to make the hats of the British guards) and their utter irrelevance in British life. He referred to Prince William and his then fiancée Kate Middleton as "so dull as people that it is actually impossible to discuss them".
 Accusations of racismMorrissey was accused of racism throughout part of the 1980s and much of the 1990s, primarily due to the ambiguous lyrics in songs such as "Bengali in Platforms," "Asian Rut" and "The National Front Disco," the latter containing the lyric "England for the English." These criticisms also stemmed from Johnny Rogan's biography of the singer which claimed that, in his late teens, the singer wrote "I don't hate Pakistanis, but I dislike them immensely." In 2006 Liz Hoggard from The Independent argued that "Morrissey didn't help his case with an uneasy flirtation with gangster imagery: he took up boxing and was accompanied everywhere by a skinhead, named Jake." She claimed that the "man who abhorred violence became strangely fascinated by it." Encyclopædia Britannica argues that Morrissey's 1990s albums, including Your Arsenal (1992), Vauxhall and I (1994), Southpaw Grammar (1995) and Maladjusted (1997) "testified to a growing homoerotic obsession with criminals, skinheads, and boxers, a change paralleled by a shift in the singer's image from wilting wallflower to would-be thug sporting sideburns and gold bracelets."
A trigger for much of the criticism was Morrissey's performance at the first Madness Madstock! reunion concert at Finsbury Park, London, in 1992, in which he appeared on stage draped in the Union Flag, often associated with nationalism and the British far-right. As a backdrop for this performance, he chose a photograph of two female skinheads. The British music magazine NME responded to this performance with a lengthy examination of Morrissey's attitudes to race, claiming that the singer had "left himself in a position where accusations that he's toying with far-right/fascist imagery, and even of racism itself, can no longer just be laughed off with a knowing quip."
In the early days of the Smiths, Morrissey stated that "all reggae is vile," leading to the first reports of his alleged racism. He later explained that this was a tongue-in-cheek answer to "wind up the right-on 1980s NME" and that he grew up partly on the classic singles released by the British reggae label Trojan in the early to mid-1970s. The Smiths' "Panic," released in July 1986, fades out with the refrain "hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ..." Rogan's biography reports that initial critical response to this content was interpreted as distaste for the increasing influence of rap and R&B over popular music at the time.
Morrissey has strongly rejected claims that he is racist, saying "If I am racist then the Pope is female. Which he isn't," and "If the National Front were to hate anyone, it would be me. I would be top of the list." He qualified that by saying that far-right rage "is simply their anger at being ignored in what is supposed to be a democratic society." In the 2002 documentary, The Importance of Being Morrissey, he posits the question, "Why on earth would I be racist? What would I be trying to achieve?" In the film, he also takes issue with those who fail to discern the subtlety of his supposedly racist lyrics, stating that "Not everybody is absolutely stupid."
In 1999, Morrissey commented on the rise of Austrian far-right politician Jörg Haider, stating "This is sad. Sometimes I don't believe we live in an intelligent world." In 2004 he signed the Unite Against Fascism statement, and in 2008 he made a personal donation of £75,000 to the organisers of the Love Music Hate Racism concert in Victoria Park, London, after the withdrawal of the NME's sponsorship left the event facing a financial shortfall.
In 2007, Morrissey sparked controversy by claiming British identity has disappeared because the country has been “flooded” by immigrants in his interview with NME. Morrissey's lawyers are now pressing legal action against NME for defamation, with the magazine declining to print a retraction or apology. Within days of issuing the writ against NME, Morrissey also released a detailed explanation of his side of the story via an online fanzine. The statement included a firmly worded rebuttal against the accusations of racism, a condemnation of racism itself and an exposition on his belief that NME's editor had deliberately staged and scandalised the outcome of the interview in an orchestrated attempt to boost the paper's "dwindling circulation." In 2008, Word Magazine was forced to apologise in court for an article by David Quantick that accused Morrissey of being a racist and a hypocrite.
In September 2010, during an interview with Simon Armitage in the Guardian's weekend magazine Morrissey described the treatment of animals in China as "absolutely horrific" and in reference to other reports of animal welfare violations in China he said, "you can't help but feel the Chinese are a subspecies." A spokesman for Love Music Hate Racism, which received a donation of £28,000 from the singer in 2008 after his apparently anti-immigration comments made in music magazine NME, said it would be unable to accept support from Morrissey again if he did not rescind or dispute the comments, saying: "It really is just crude racism. When you start using language like 'subspecies', you are entering into dark and murky water. I don't think we would, or could, ask him to come back after that."
Despite accusations of racism in the United Kingdom Morrissey maintains a large Latino fan base in the United States and in Los Angeles particularly. His height in popularity among U.S. Hispanics was the subject of William E Jones' documentary Is It Really So Strange? Morrissey himself has written about Mexico in his song of the same title and has stated his affection for the Mexican people in interviews.
 Animal rights activismMorrissey has been vegetarian since he was 11 years old. He has explained his vegetarianism by saying "If you love animals, obviously it doesn't make sense to hurt them." Morrissey is an advocate for animal rights and a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In recognition of his support, PETA honoured him with the Linda McCartney Memorial Award at their 25th Anniversary Gala on 10 September 2005.
In January 2006, Morrissey attracted criticism when he stated that he accepts the motives behind the militant tactics of the Animal Rights Militia, saying "I understand why fur-farmers and so-called laboratory scientists are repaid with violence—it is because they deal in violence themselves and it's the only language they understand."
Morrissey has criticised people who are involved in the promotion of eating meat, specifically Jamie Oliver and Clarissa Dickson Wright – the latter already targeted by some animal rights activists for her stance on fox hunting. In response, Dickson-Wright stated “Morrissey is encouraging people to commit acts of violence and I am constantly aware that something might very well happen to me.” The Conservative MP David Davis criticised these comments, saying that "any incitement to violence is obviously wrong in a civilised society and should be investigated by the police." On 27 March 2006, Morrissey released a statement that he would not include any concert dates in Canada on his world tour that year—and that he supported a boycott of all Canadian goods—in protest against the country's annual seal hunt, which he described as a "barbaric and cruel slaughter".
In 2009 he abandoned a stage at the Coachella Festival in California because of the smell of cooking meat. He later returned to finish his set.
In September 2010 he ignited a public controversy for describing Chinese people as a "subspecies" because of their treatment of animals. In an interview with British poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage he said: "Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies." He later made a statement saying "if anyone has seen the horrific and unwatchable footage of the Chinese cat and dog trade – animals skinned alive – then they could not possibly argue in favour of China as a caring nation. There are no animal protection laws in China and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet. It is indefensible."
At a concert in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, July 24, 2011, Morrissey caused more controversy when stating "We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown, with 97 [sic] dead. Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Shit every day."  in relevance to the recent attacks of Anders Breivik in Norway on the 22nd of July, which resulted in the killing of 69 people who were attending a Youth Labour Party camp on Utøya Island, and eight people working in and around a government building which was bombed. His statement has been seen by many as crude and insensitive.
 SexualityMorrissey's sexuality has been a matter of conjecture, and this has been fuelled by many conflicting statements from the singer, none of which has ever explicitly stated his sexual orientation. Encyclopædia Britannica argues that he created a "compellingly conflicted persona (loudly proclaimed celibacy offset by coy hints of closeted homosexuality)" which has "made him a peculiar heartthrob." "Morrissey has always taken great pains to maintain the ‘undecidable' nature of his sexuality." In 1983 he claimed to be "a kind of prophet for the fourth sex," on the grounds that he was "bored with men and ...bored with women." In 1984, he stated that he refused "to recognise the terms hetero-, bi-, and homo-sexual" because "everybody has exactly the same sexual needs." A 1984 Smiths article in Rolling Stone stated that Morrissey "admits he's gay," but Morrissey replied that it was news to him and the article used the term "fourth-gender" in its title.
The speculation was further fuelled by the frequent references to gay subculture and slang in his lyrics. In 2006, Liz Hoggard from The Independent noted, "Only 15 years after homosexuality had been decriminalised, his lyrics flirted with every kind of gay subculture"; for example, she claims that "This Charming Man" "is about age-gap, gay sex." Reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine claims lyrics to the Smiths single "Hand in Glove" contain very thinly "veiled references to homosexuality."
Throughout much of his career, he maintained in interviews that he was asexual and celibate. Johnny Marr stated in a 1984 interview that "Morrissey doesn't participate in sex at the moment and hasn't done so for a while, he's had a lot of girlfriends in the past and quite a few men friends." In 1986, Morrissey claimed that he was "dramatically, supernaturally, non-sexual." In a 1994 interview, he claimed that "sex is actually never in my life," and as such, he argued that "I have no sexuality." In 1995, he claimed "I'd like to have a sex life, if possible." In a 1997 interview, he revealed he had been in a relationship with someone for two years but that it had ended and the person in question had just stopped loving him. He did not reveal the sex of his partner or whether it was a sexual relationship. However, he did admit to caring deeply and he stated he had hoped he or she had shared similar feelings. In a 2006 NME interview, he stated he was no longer celibate, but he did not give any additional details. A 2006 article in UK paper The Independent stated the singer "...has even hinted at a late-blooming sex life." John Murphy of musicOMH has even speculated that the lyrics "Nothing entered me, 'til you came with the key" to Morrissey's 2006 song "You Have Killed Me" give reference to a sexual encounter he had.
Morrissey frequently tells interviewers who ask him about his sexuality the question is irrelevant to his music, or he gives an evasive or ambiguous response. While the debate over Morrissey's sexuality has become widespread on fan websites, including attempts to analyse the meaning of his ambiguous song lyrics, their attempts are often stymied because, as The Times critic Tom Gatti puts it, "Morrissey's music offers infinite capacity for interpretation" because "they are too flexible, too rich, too textured