Mark E Smith, frontman of influential post-punk band The Fall, turned 60 on Sunday, and many fans and admirers turned to social media to post tributes to the irascible Manchester music legend.
However, the person manning the BBC Music Twitter account inadvertently introduced a cloud into the cheery prodeedings when they erroneously announced Smith had died.
Above an image of a youthful, dour-looking Mark, the account tweeted “RIP Mark E Smith,” along with a sad-faced emoji.
BBC tweeted ‘RIP Mark E Smith’ on his birthday when he’s not actually dead. Poor Mark E Smith pic.twitter.com/9dlUX74wjp
— Karl Fletcher (@karlfletcher69) March 6, 2017
The error was quickly noticed and the tweet deleted – then the same image was reposted with the more appropriate message “Happy 60th Mark E Smith” – and a link to a clip of the time the singer appeared on the BBC’s Final Score in 2005 and read the football results:
— BBC Music (@bbcmusic) March 5, 2017
The BBC issued a statement saying: “This was a genuine human error and the message was posted by mistake and swiftly deleted. We apologise for the error.”
Mark Edward Smith was born in 1957 and spent his first few months of life in Salford before moving to nearby Prestwich, where he continues to lives.
He formed the The Fall in 1977 after seeing the Sex Pistols play Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. The band has had numerous line-up changed over the intervening 40 years, with Smith the only continuous member.
The Fall were famously John Peel’s favourite band – leading to this awkward, and typically Smithian – encounter on Newsnight following Peel’s death in 2004.