Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Mark Alexander Smith - one of the greats.
I just found out today that one of my dearest friends, Mark Smith, died yesterday. I cannot begin to say how much this has hurt me and left me feeling bereft and adrift.
I've known Mark for more than twenty five years and in that time we've written songs, produced, played, drank and caroused. For much of it I was the one who did the drinking and carousing being as Mark was never one to drink or whatever. His big vice was cigarettes and coffee and many of his friends worried that these would not be good for him. As yet we don't know if we were right.
Mark was one of the best of us. There will be many times in life when you hear that expression and it will be said as a cliché or as a platitude; in this case it was a true evaluation of the man. He was one of the finest musicians I have ever met or had the honour to play with. He was best known for his prowess on the bass guitar but once you'd spent sometime in a studio with Mark you soon realised that his knowledge of composition, his skill with keyboards and arranging would add a lustre to any run of the mill project. Perhaps the greatest compliment was that if anyone could polish a turd, as the musical saying goes, Mark could.
In his personal life he was self-effacing. Always quick witted and humourous he had an ability to calm any tense situation, smooth over difficulties in recording studios making other singers and players feel that they were really happening, even when they weren't. As a friend he could always be relied upon to offer moral support, good advice and some sensible interjection; he was the first person I told when my wife told me we were having a child. We were in Stockholm at the time working with a dreadful band but it was always good times.
The last time I spoke to Mark was this weekend; after many years of not playing or creating any music I had been persuaded to put something together. I called Mark and asked him if he would be up for trying something a bit different, but still diamond. We had songs we'd written years back that still sound fresh; other friends who were class acts were all up for it, particularly if Mark was involved. Mark was enthusiastic about the idea, and I knew, thanks to him, it stood much more chance of being special. Now I'll never know.
Mark Smith was a very common name for a very uncommon person.
I loved him and I miss him more than I can express.