DALE Hibbert’s mother died of pneumonia when he was eight days old.

He was a latch-key kid, who felt abandoned and used to cut himself.

He’s been married four times and has eight children. He’s suffered with depression, ‘died’ twice... oh, and he was also The Smiths’ original bass player.


He now owns Kava artisan cafe in Todmorden and has decided to finally put the record straight on six months of his life which he describes as an interruption – hence the name of his book Boy Interrupted – Memoir of a Former Smith.

In his capacity as The Smiths’ sound engineer and bassist, Dale, 54, was privy to the dreams and outlandish ideas of the young Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

But right from the start he had an awkward relationship with the enigmatic singer.

Dale has Asperger’s Syndrome, although he didn’t know it then, and wasn’t always able to convey his true feelings. “I gave the impression of being disinterested when the opposite was often the case. I found it hard to look people in the eyes,” he said.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Whether this had any bearing on his departure from the band, he’s still not sure, but his condition has caused him issues over the years.

But if the truth be known, joining The Smiths wasn’t the pinnacle of his ambition at the time.

His heart was set on a career as a sound engineer, and he’s run two recording studios in his time, Decibel and the famous Spirit in Manchester.

However, Marr, a man he admired, persuaded Dale to leave his band The Adorables to form a new one with a lead singer who had to be addressed as Steven, not Steve. “He certainly wasn’t your typical Stretford lad,” says Dale.

Steven (later Morrissey) was a journalist who had written a book about The New York Dolls and had ‘connections at Granada’.

Although Dale believes those connections involved sending storyline ideas to Coronation Street.

They met at the home of former Granada reporter Shelley Rohde, who had a sound-proofed rehearsal room for her sons’ to practise.

“I discovered later that ‘Steve’ was outlawed by Morrissey because it ‘reminded him of Steve Austin,’ the bionic man played by Lee Majors in the television programme, The Six Million Dollar Man. I hate being told what to do, so I decided immediately that when I met him I’d call him Steve,” says Dale.

The relationship never improved – Dale never ‘got’ Morrissey with his affected language and long silences. To cut a long, but fascinating story short, after the first recordings and a gig at The Ritz, Dale was usurped by Andy Rourke.

He still doesn’t understand why as Marr could have chosen Rourke from the outset because they were mates.

The book gives a compelling insight into the working class life that fuelled the creativity of The Smiths and the Manchester music scene of the late 70s and early 80s that spawned Joy Division, Buzzcocks and The Fall.

Dale fully expects the book to bring some flak from Smiths purists who believe he was given the heave-ho because he wasn’t good enough, something he fervently disagrees with as he’d proved himself with numerous bands before and after The Smiths.

“I’m not worried,” he says cheerfully. “ I’ve reached an age where sticks and stones and all that. I know I’ll get flak but it’s mainly ignorance.

“People will think I’ve done this for the money which is a joke. I won’t make a penny. It’s taken me 18 months to write and I could have found something more lucrative to do in that time.

“Smiths fans are dedicated and fanatical and they’re global. You’d think they’d all have aged like me and have better things to do. I won’t be going on the band’s site because I know I’ll get hammered on there.

“Being a part of The Smiths was interesting for six months but I was doing lots of other things at the time. I didn’t really give it much attention which is a shame because if I’d have kept a lot of the stuff the lyrics etc, I could have been eBaying them now and I wouldn’t have to work. It just didn’t occur to me. It’s had its uses because without The Smiths I wouldn’t have been able to get the book published,” he laughs.

However, the book is so much more than his brief interlude with The Smiths. It tells the tale of a man with a condition that has had a devastating effect on his relationships.

He was a dad at 16. He attempted suicide and had his stomach pumped at Wythenshawe Hospital. He’s run successful nightclubs and businesses. He’s been penniless and a millionaire and has lived out of a car and in a mansion. He’s also lived in Eastern Europe, which is where he met his partner Svet, with whom he runs Kava.

“I have written this book because I wanted to leave my version behind,” he says.

“I have a problem with the perception that my life ended when I was kicked out of The Smiths. Some imagine I have never recovered and will spend my later days sitting in a rocking chair listening to Smiths songs while ruing on what could have been.

“This is to overlook that I became a millionaire and did some amazing things.

“I opened the first internet café in Manchester. I owned a nightclub. I ‘retired’ at 40 and went to live in Sydney. I have been homeless. I have been penniless.

“I am not the sum of those six months with The Smiths.”

But Dale has another important reason for publishing his side of the story – his eight kids, who range in ages from 36 to nine – who he believes consider him a poor father.

“I hope when they get older that it might make them think kinder of me. I don’t see them that often. I’m here for them but I’m not in touch every day. When I was with them I was so blinded by having to earn money that I neglected the emotional side of their upbringing.

“You get into a trap, four of them were in private education. It wasn’t that I didn’t love them I was attempting to keep them in a lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.”

Does he think Morrissey will read his book?

“I don’t know if his arrogance would prevent him from reading it,” he says. “He probably can’t even remember. I guess vanity would make him scan through, but maybe not. There was an interview in which Johnny said he’d never read Morrissey’s book, but I find that hard to believe.”

Boy Interrupted – A memoir of a Smith is published by Pomona and available from www.pomonauk.com/shop/store.php, Amazon and Kava cafe, 31 Rochdale Road, Todmorden.