“Suedehead” is the debut solo single by English singer Morrissey, released in February 1988.
The single charted higher than any of the singles released by his former band the Smiths, entering the UK Singles Chart at No. 6 and then peaking at No. 5 the week after. “Suedehead” peaked at No. 2 in Ireland, No. 8 in New Zealand, and reached the Top 50 in Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia. The lead track was featured on Morrissey’s debut album Viva Hate and the compilation album Bona Drag, the latter of which also featured the B-side “Hairdresser on Fire”. The artwork of the single features a photo taken by Geri Caulfield during a Smiths gig at the London Palladium.
The music video, directed by Tim Broad, features Morrissey walking through the streets of Fairmount, Indiana, the boyhood city of actor James Dean, including shots of the school where Dean studied and the Park Cemetery, where he is buried. Other allusions to Dean in the video include a child (played by Sam Esty Rayner, Morrissey’s nephew, who went on to direct the video for “Kiss Me a Lot” in 2015) delivering to Morrissey a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Dean’s favourite book.
At the beginning of his album Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams argues with David Rawlings about whether or not “Suedehead” is on Viva Hate.
NME gave the single ‘Single of the Week 2’ saying that “his vocals hit a pitch that turns your stomach with queasy delight. It makes you feel vulnerable and provokes emotions you’ve forgotten about.” In the 1988 NME Year in Review the song was described as “The best No. 1 ’88 never gave us”.
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, critic Ned Raggett described it as “a memorable number, with Street’s subtle orchestrations carrying the sweep of the song.”
Morrissey – vocals
Stephen Street – bass guitar; guitar
Vini Reilly – guitar; keyboards
Andrew Paresi – drums; percussion