When Morrissey storms off stage, you can be sure the legendary alternative rocker had a good reason, at least in his own mind. A heckler who considers his cancer diagnosis fair game for an attempt at humor, as far as the former Smiths frontman was concerned, was plenty reason enough.
Stephen Morrissey, who uses only his surname professionally, first became famous in the 1980s as lyricist and lead singer for the short-lived but highly influential English rock band The Smiths.
Morrissey’s poetic songs of adolescent loneliness and confusion, combined with innovative guitar playing of Morrissey’s collaborator and co-writer Johnny Marr, made The Smiths in their brief five-year existence perhaps the biggest band in Britain, and earned them a strong following in the United States and elsewhere.
When The Smiths disbanded in 1987 over the breakdown in Morrissey and Marr’s creative and personal relationship, Morrissey set out on a prolific solo career that has continued mostly unabated for the past 27 years.
But earlier this year, the 55-year-old singer and outspoken vegetarian was diagnosed with cancer. Though the full details Wednesday’s incident at Klub Stodola in Warsaw, Poland, are not entirely clear, it appears that Morrissey’s cancer diagnosis set one fan off on a crude monologue — which in turn caused Morrissey to become so offended that, as revealed in the video above, he storms off the stage.
As seen in the video — the incident begins around the 8:40 mark — at one point in his concert, Morrissey addresses the crowd and says something to the effect of, “I’d like to tell you something.” Whether he was about to discuss his cancer, which has likely been the cause for several cancelled shows on his current tour, is unclear.
But what is clear is that someone near the front of the stage picked that moment to make what Morrissey considered an unkind remark.
Whatever the comment was, the concert promoter Live Nation later issued a statement labeling the remarks by the so-called fan, “extremely offensive and chauvinistic,” which suggests perhaps that the heckling had to do not only with Morrissey’s cancer, but with the star’s perceived sexuality.
Morrissey has always been coy about his sexual orientation, claiming only to be celibate and sexually interested in neither women nor men.
In any event, Morrissey responded to the fan, saying “Is that funny? That wasn’t very nice. I’m not going to say it now.”
Morrissey then, in the video, commences another song but storms off the stage in the middle of the number, leaving fans who paid for tickets outraged and booing — which in turn made Morrissey feel “unsafe,” according to his management.