Irvine Welsh hails former Leith resident and singer Mark E Smith

Mark Smith of The Fall plays at The Liquid Room
Mark Smith of The Fall plays at The Liquid Room
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TRAINSPOTTING author Irvine Welsh has paid tribute to fellow former Leith resident, the singer and songwriter Mark E Smith, who died on Wednesday aged 60.

The Fall frontman Mark E Smith, who had been forced to cancel a string of concerts because of ill health, performed his last gig in Glasgow at the QMU in November 2017.

Writing on Twitter, Welsh said: “Mark E Smith was a complex, driven man. I greatly admired him as an artist and - both despite and because of his eccentricities - really liked him as a person. Riot in Righteousness, Mark mate.”

Smith - who was born in Salford and quit his job at Manchester docks to found The Fall when he was just 19 - lived in Edinburgh from 1989 to 1990.

Seeking an escape from Manchester after divorcing his first wife and fellow band member Brix Start Smith in January 1989, he decided to Hit the North and move to Leith.

He also spent a period in the New Town. But Leith clearly left an impression on him. He later said: “I came here and I was accepted straight away. Leith’s good, it’s a bit more of the real Edinburgh.”

And his fondness for Auld Reekie was captured in the Fall song Edinburgh Man, which featured on the band’s 1991 album Shift-Work.

Unlike the caustic wit present in other Fall tracks, the song is a gentle ode to Smith’s time in the Capital. He sings about longing to return with the lines: “Don’t want to be anywhere else. Just want to be in Edinburgh,” before declaring: “I’m an Edinburgh man, myself.”

Despite some critics believing the lyrics to be satirical, Smith insisted that they were genuine.

“I really wanted to say it. And I meant it, what I say. I was living up there in Edinburgh for a year and I was on me tod. I spent 18 months on the words to that song trying to get it right.”

Smith eventually returned to Manchester, finding Edinburgh “too nice” to get any work done in.

Despite his love for the city, he thought it had become too gentrified in the years since he left.

And he even professed to preferring another Scottish city. “I like Glasgow a lot better,” he claimed.

In a 1994 TV feature for Granada Tonight, in which he gave a guided tour of Edinburgh, he jokingly referred to it as “a poor man’s San Francisco” due to the prevalence of hills.

The city’s Georgian architecture also captured his heart. In typically cynical style, he commented that he thought this was more by accident than design: “They’re too tight to knock the buildings down.”

Ms Start Smith was initially too upset to comment on his death on Wednesday but took to Twitter yesterday to say: “Mark defied convention and definition - he was a true artist. He was my music mentor, my cultural anchor, and my first love. I feel deeply saddened by his passing, but I feel greater joy for having shared his journey.”

As well as his music, Smith appeared in acting roles on TV and in films and wrote a play about Pope John Paul I.