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Morrissey turns bigmouth as memoir reveals relationships

books Updated: Oct 22, 2013 17:11 IST

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British singer and former Smiths frontman Morrissey has revealed in his autobiography that his first full relationship came with a man when he was 35, and that he later considered having a child with a woman.

The star's 457-page memoir, titled simply "Autobiography", also takes aim at the British legal system, the former drummer and bassist from the Smiths and the music business with a series of typically acid quips.

Morrissey, 54, who famously made a virtue out of his celibacy and has long kept his private life veiled, said in the book that he fell into a two-year relationship with photographer Jake Owen Walters in 1994.

Walters followed the star home from a London restaurant one night after vegetarian Morrissey walked out in protest at the fact that it was serving meat.

"Once inside the house the doorbell rings. It is Jake," writes Morrissey, whose hits with The Smiths included "Bigmouth Strikes Again".

"He obviously understood my sudden exit, and he had been curious enough to follow me home. He steps inside and he stays for two years.

"Conversation is the bond of companionship (according to the Wildean scripture), and Jake and I neither sought nor needed company other than our own for the whirlwind stretch to come, and for the first time in my life the eternal 'I' becomes 'we', as, finally, I can get on with someone."

The relationship ends after the dour English playwright Alan Bennett visits their house, notes that the couple are not speaking and says 'Something's happened, hasn't it?'.

Installed in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, Morrissey then says he fell in love with an Iranian-born US woman, Tina Deghani, who becomes a "lifetime constant".

"Tina and I discuss the unthinkable act of producing a mewling miniature monster. Had I ever previously known such a thought?" writes the star, once known for waving a bunch of gladioli and wearing a hearing aid during his performances on British television.

'Droning narcissism'
The book starts with a lyrical, four-and-a-half-page paragraph description of Stephen Patrick Morrissey's childhood in the industrial town of Manchester, northwest England, including the line: "Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big."

His tales of his grim school days describe how one teacher at school inappropriately rubbed anti-inflammatory cream into his wrist, while another "stands and stares" at boys in the shower.

It charts the rise of The Smiths, who from 1982 to 1987 set the template for independent music in Britain with hits like "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" that mixed Morrissey's depressively witty lyrics with Johnny Marr's jangly guitars.

Marr, whose creative friendship with Morrissey was at the heart of the band, emerges mostly positively from the book, but the same cannot be said of drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke.

Morrissey devotes a full 50 pages to his bitter legal battle with Joyce -- whom he calls a "flea in search of a dog" over royalties from the band -- while Judge John Weeks is described as "resembling a pile of untouched sandwiches".

The release of the long-awaited book made the front pages of many British newspapers, but reviews were mixed.

Many commentators focused on the risk of hubris in the fact that "Autobiography" was published under the Penguin Classics label, normally reserved for the likes of Dickens, Tolstoy and Homer.

"It's self-absorbed, overlong and essential reading," said The Times. The Independent said it was a "predictable whine of self-pity and self-justification... droning narcissism."

The Guardian said that "for its first 150 pages, 'Autobiography' comes close to being a triumph" but then goes "badly wrong" with the bitterness over the legal battle."
But the Telegraph said it was the "best written musical autobiography since Bob Dylan's Chronicles".