The British legal system and NME face the brunt of Morrissey's ire in his Autobiography, with side orders of disdain for record labels (especially Rough Trade), the 1970s education system and even a word of mild criticism for John Peel.
Judge John Weeks, who described the singer as "devious, truculent and unreliable", is in turn called "the pride of the pipsqueakery".
Weeks had used the words in his summing-up at the end of the 1996 court case in which he ruled former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce was entitled to 25% of the group's earnings.
"Weeks tore into me with a thunder reserved for rapists and murderers," Morrissey writes. "How do we rap these outspoken pop stars on the knuckles? How do we put them out of action? Here's how. Or, at most, we can try." The judge is described as "ringing his creased little hangman's hands whilst resembling a pile of untouched sandwiches".
The judges who dismissed Morrissey's appeal fare little better. "Lord Waller fell asleep unashamedly throughout the entire hearing – his chin resting on his chest," Morrissey says. "He awakes briefly and his right index finger lodges in his right nostril, as he fiddles about with the unseen. It would be comical if not so grotesque, and we can only despair at how lives and reputations rely so urgently on the thoughts of such puppetry."
Morrissey even suggests his own barrister, Murray Rosen, did not use all the available evidence, because he "was in line for judicial promotion, and in the halls of justice, solidarity among the adjudicators must never be jumbled by mere scruples".
Morrissey's description of the case and appeal lasts nearly 50 pages, the longest passage in a single subject in the book, but the matter of his relationship with NME crops up several times.
He asserts that the then editor of NME – not named, though Danny Kelly was editor at the time – in 1992 "allegedly called a staff meeting at which he has passed the command that his staff writers must now 'get Morrissey' … the plan was underway to dislodge me as an NME staple."
After Morrissey supported Madness at Finsbury Park in London that summer, a show disrupted by skinheads and during which he draped himself in the Union Jack, he says the NME ran a cover bearing the words: "Is Morrissey flirting with fascism?", with – Morrissey observes – "no thought whatsoever of me in the burning wreckage of it all … They milk and foster their racist allegations – full of high moral code and judicial thuggery". In fact, NME's front cover read: "Flying the flag or flirting with disaster?"
Fifteen years later, a Morrissey interview with the magazine prompted further accusations of racism, which the singer describes as "the most offensively malodorous attack … the editor [then Conor McNicholas] gives the story teeth by switching the wording of my replies, and by inventing questions that were never asked. It is catastrophically controversial." Nevertheless, the interviewer – Tim Jonze, now of the Guardian, though not identified by name – is described as "very sensitive and courteous".
Although Morrissey denies the allegations of racism, Autobiography does not address the content of his remarks to NME. Nor does he mention the interview he gave to the Guardian in 2010 in which he called Chinese people a "subspecies" for their treatment of animals.
Morrissey's other targets
• Rough Trade and its boss, Geoff Travis "He must surely be aware that, wihtout the Smiths, he would have found himself wandering from kaftan to kaftan; the Westway above slamming out the Who or the Clash, but not the recalcitrant Smiths – who saved his life and made it count in the long run."
• Teachers Morrissey's feelings about his schooldays were documented on the Smiths' song The Headmaster Ritual, and Autobiography brings to vivid life the "belligerent ghouls" who ran Manchester schools. "This freakish use of the leather strap is the answer for all teachers who find themselves in a situation that they simply cannot deal with, or answer."
• John Peel Although the Smiths' sessions for John Peel's Radio 1 show were seen as crucial to the growth in their popularity, Morrissey says it was the show's producer, John Walters, who was the real driving force behind their presence on the programme. "John Peel, though, did not ever come to see the Smiths play live, and did not attend any of the radio sessions. He is cited as instrumental in the Smiths' success, but if not for the continual exuberance of John Walters, John Peel could never have encountered the Smiths."
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