The top Colorado moments from Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’

(Photo illustration: CPR / Kegan Warner)
photo: Morrissey in Colorado

The alternative rock icon released his tersely titled "Autobiography" last year. Among other topics, the singer discusses his dreary Manchester upbringing, mismanagement by his label Rough Trade, the acrimonious 1996 court trial in which former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce sued him for royalties, and discovering his prodigious Hispanic fan following late in his career.

But what might be of most interest to Coloradoans are Morrissey's connections to the Centennial state. There happen to be several mentions of the time he spent here as a young man and throughout his career.

As one who has braved the lengthy, introspective and, ultimately rewarding tome, I've highlighted these Colorado moments below:

photo: Morrissey autobiography
  • In the late 70s, Morrissey briefly lived in the Denver area with his aunt Mary. After finishing school and before meeting Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, a young Morrissey struggled to find his calling in life. He describes "continually dump[ing] myself on Mary for seven-week stretches where I am unable to do anything but just get by." He wanders snowy Arvada and places an ad in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News for musicians, but to no avail. He is rejected for jobs with "ghastly" Pathmark and Target. The often acerbic singer goes easy on the Mile High City, merely deeming it "less-interesting" than New York City.
  • photo: a-haOn the tour supporting the 1986 Smiths album "The Queen is Dead," the band stops in Denver and takes in a concert by Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha, best known for the 1985 hit "Take on Me." Morrissey expresses that he and Marr "quite like" the group, but the show is ruined by "very small females who squeal at an intolerable volume throughout the concert, drowning out all the songs."
  • After the Smiths breakup, Morrissey mentions the story of a gunman taking a Denver radio station hostage until its DJs promised to play Smiths music. He quips: "Evidently a loaded gun is what is takes to get a Smiths song on the airwaves." Westword investigated this story last year to corroborate its validity. They found that, according to a Denver Post story, an 18-year-old Arvada man showed up at the now-defunct KRXY planning to enter armed with a rifle and several Smiths cassette tapes. However, he backed down and turned himself into the police before ever entering the station.