Smith, frontman for the seminal British post-punk act, passed away Jan. 24 at the age of 60, but until now the reasons for his death were unclear.
The rocker lived his final months as he did the rest of his life: pulling no punches. “Mark fought a long and hard battle after his diagnosis of terminal lung and kidney cancer,” Barbara, Suzanne and Caroline wrote. “He took every treatment going, which could be brutal at times and left Mark with some horrible side effects. Mark was such a strong man and hated letting his fans down and tried to carry on regardless against all advice.”
The bereaved sisters thanked family, friends and fans for their “kind words, condolences and memories” and paid tribute to “the NHS (National Health Service) and staff who treated Mark throughout and Mark’s partner Pam who loved, cared and cherished our brother”.
Founded in 1976 with guitarist Martin Bramah, bassist Tony Friel, and keyboardist Uma Baines, Smith was the only constant in an always-evolving lineup that collected 11 Top 40 albums in the U.K. and three Top 40 hits, including “There’s a Ghost in My House” and “Victoria.” But the Fall’s influence wasn’t measured by chart success.
A favorite of the late BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, the Fall was adored by the likes of Billy Bragg, The Charlatans and Oasis, many of whom remembered Smith as a difficult genius. “A true uncompromising musical maverick. A genius, a curmudgeon and someone whose company it was an honour to share,” recalled the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess.
Mark had a “great life and loved and lived it to the full and always by his own rules and we, as his sisters were privileged to be part of it too,” his sisters wrote this week. “Mark is at peace now and pain free, but we, his three sisters have been left heartbroken and will miss our big brother very much.”