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25 things you didn't know about The Queen Is Dead

30 years on from the classic album

25 things you didn't know about The Queen Is Dead
16 June 2016

When The Smiths released their third album proper, The Queen Is Dead, in 1986, it quickly became clear that the record was going to be considered a classic for many years to come. Quite simply, it was the Smiths record with everything that people loved about them: the driving rock of the title track; the English music hall romps of Frankly, Mr Shankly and Vicar In A Tutu; the maudlin angst of I Know It's Over and, of course, the sweeping beauty of songs like The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

You've probably listened to it hundreds of times but we're sure there are a few nuggets and stories that you haven't heard about; so, here are 25 things that you probably didn't know about The Queen Is Dead.

(Images: Rex)


In 2003, Morrissey named The Boy With The Thorn In His Side as his favourite Smiths song.


There is a Light That Never Goes Out features lyrics based on Lonely Planet Boy by the New York Dolls: "Oh, you pick me up/You're outta drivin' in your car/When I tell you where I'm goin'/Always tellin' me it's too far/But how could you be drivin'/Down by my home/When ya know, I ain't got one/And I'm, I'm so all alone"


The working title of The Queen is Dead was 'Margaret on the Guillotine'.


Linda McCartney was originally asked to play piano on Frankly, Mr Shankly - she declined the offer.


An Oscar Wilde quote, 'Talent borrows, genius steals', can be found in the run-out grooves of the Bigmouth Strikes Again single.


The clip of Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty heard at the start of the album is sung by Cicley Courtneidge's character in the 1962 film The L-Shaped Room.


The pitch-shifted backing vocals heard on Bigmouth Strikes Again are sung by Morrissey, and credited to 'Ann Coates'.


The original recording of Frankly Mr Shankly was ruined by a technical glitch on the tape, so it had to be rerecorded - the new version was unfinished when the album was completed, so John Porter finished it off, recording and mixing Morrissey's vocal.


Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others was performed live just once - at The Smiths' final concert at Brixton Academy in 1986. Morrissey also added an extra verse: "On the shopfloor/There's a calendar/As obvious as snow.../(As if we didn't know)"


The synth strings on There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, created by Johnny Marr using an Emulator sampler, are credited to the 'Hated Salford Ensemble'.


The cover was designed by Morrissey, and is based on a still from the 1964 French movie L' Insoumis, starring Alain Delon.


The verse: 'So I broke into the Palace/with a sponge and a rusty spanner/she said: "I know you, and you cannot sing"/I said: "that's nothing - you should hear me play piano", from The Queen Is Dead, references Michael Fagin, who broke into Buckingham Palace one night in 1982 and spoke to the Queen.


The volume dip in the introduction to Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others is deliberate: Stephen Street wanted it to sound 'a bit like opening a door, closing it, then opening it again and walking in'.


There Is a Light That Never Goes Out was the second Smiths song to top John Peel's Festive Fifty, in 1986.


The jumping man on the cover of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side single is a young Truman Capote, who wrote In Cold Blood, amongst many others.


The line 'and her Walkman started to melt' from Bigmouth Strikes Again, is often updated by Morrissey in live performances to 'and her iPod started to melt'. A cover by Placebo changed 'Walkman' and 'hearing aid' to 'discman' and 'mega drive'.


Due to the limitations of Jacobs Studios and Stephen Street's desire to create the distinctive drum loop heard throughout the song, the snare and bass drum on The Queen Is Dead were recorded seperately from the cymbals and toms.


The album title was taken from a section of American author Hubert Selby's 1964 novel, Last Exit To Brooklyn.


Despite The Queen Is Dead being named as NME's Greatest Album of All Time in 2013, Morrissey and Marr's favourite album is, in fact, Strangeways Here We Come.


The single release of The Boy With the Thorn In His Side features an etching on the B-side run-off groove: "ARTY BLOODY FARTY / "IS THAT CLEVER"...JM" These words are heard at the end of B-side Rubber Ring. JM stands for Johnny Marr.


The Boy With The Boy With The Thorn In His Side was the first Smiths single to have a promotional video.


A chapter of Irvine Welsh's seminal novel Trainspotting is named after There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.


The Bigmouth Strikes Again single release contained a photograph of James Dean.


The released version of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side was originally just recorded as a demo - it turned out so well that they kept it.


Kirsty MacColl originally sang the backing vocals for Bigmouth Strikes Again, but it was considered "really weird" by Johnny Marr, and left off the final mix, to be replaced by Morrissey's pitch-shifted efforts.