Chas Smash (right) and Lee Thompson in 2009
|Birth name||Cathal Joseph Smyth|
14 January 1959 |
Marylebone, London, England
Cathal Joseph Patrick Smyth (born 14 January 1959), also known as Chas Smash, is an English musician, best known as the backing singer, trumpet player, harmonica player and dancer in the ska/pop band Madness.
In addition to trumpet, Smyth plays the bass guitar (having initially joined Madness as a bassist), acoustic guitar and other various percussion instruments. He occasionally performs the lead vocals, such as on the songs "Michael Caine", "Wings of a Dove", "One Step Beyond" and "Madness (Is All in the Mind)". He was initially an occasional songwriter, but became a more regular contributor over the course of Madness's career and was credited as co-writer on the group's major international hit, "Our House".
Cathal Smyth was born at Middlesex Hospital and grew up in Marylebone, London. As a child he went by the name Carl. His parents were Irish immigrants, as his father was in the oil business and moved the family from Ireland to England and then to the Middle East because of his work. The Smyths were competitive Irish dancers, and Smyth grew up around dance, but never took much of an interest until he began to dance as a performer.
In 1976 The North London Invaders recruited the 17-year-old Smyth to play bass, but he was replaced in 1977 by Gavin Rogers. During the late seventies, Smyth became friends with members of the band Madness, and performed as a dancer onstage at their concerts. Eventually he was recruited by the band to play bass.
In 1980 Smyth became the last of the seven original Madness members to join the band. Smyth soon moved on to playing other instruments instead of bass. After Madness broke up in 1986, Smyth formed a new short-lived band The Madness in 1988 along with Suggs, Lee Thompson and Chris Foreman.
In 1990, Smyth became an executive for Go Discs where, at his suggestion, the label signed The Stairs. He was also responsible for reforming Madness in 1992 for Madstock! He left Go Discs to reform the band. In 1989/1990, he became friends with Morrissey, who once asked him to be his manager. Smyth declined, claiming "I didn't fancy having to iron his socks." Smyth introduced Morrissey to Boz Boorer, who went on to work with the former Smiths frontman from 1991 onwards. Smyth is the subject of the 1992 Morrissey single "You're the One for Me, Fatty".
Smyth provided backing vocals on Morrissey's version of The Jam's "That's Entertainment". He had a small part in Suggs's solo career, co-writing the song "Green Eyes," and he also performed backing vocals on The Lone Ranger album. Smyth led the folk-influenced band The Velvet Ghost which played at the Fleadh festival in 2000.
In 2002, Smyth started up his own record label, Rolled Gold Records (RGR Music), at an office in Camden Town. He released a debut single, "We're Coming Over", with The England Supporters Band (billed as Mr. Smash & Friends) and it reached number 67 in the UK Singles Charts. RGR released an album and three singles by London rapper, Just Jack. The label also released material by dance and rap artists Autamata and Border Crossing. In 2004, after briefly moving his office to Islington, Smyth closed RGR.
In 2009 Madness released their first album of new material in ten years, The Liberty of Norton Folgate. About this time, Smyth was rumoured to be working on several solo projects, including a dubstep album, according to Mojo, titled 'Chas Smash' Hi-Fi Sounds Of The New Boss.
After being a couple since their teen years, Smyth and his wife of 28 years separated in 2005. He has three grown-up children from the marriage: Casper, Milo, and Eloise. He appeared with Eloise at the 2012 Q Awards ceremony.
- For Smash's albums and singles with Madness, The Madness and The Fink Brothers see Madness discography.
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