Morrissey's new album, Ringleader of the Torementors, is in stores April 4th.
Morrissey was born in Manchester, England to Irish immigrants Peter and Elizabeth Morrissey who moved to England just before his birth. He grew up in the working-class area of Stretford, Manchester, England. While his parents were married for most of his childhood, he had an unusually strong attachment to his mother, a librarian. Perhaps because of this relationship, he developed a number of interests as a child that marked him out among his working-class peers: '60s girl groups, particularly Sandie Shaw, Marianne Faithfull and Cilla Black; films from the 1950s and 1960s; and Oscar Wilde. His saving grace was his athletic ability, which saved him from bullying; however, he describes his adolescence as very lonely and depressing.
After leaving school early, Morrissey worked briefly for the Inland Revenue, but ultimately decided to 'go on the dole', sequestering himself in his room in his mother's home and forsaking the outside world to concentrate on writing, reading, and listening to music. A substantial influence on Morrissey at the time was the play A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney, a work he quoted from and assimilated often into Smiths tracks. During this period, he also wrote two novella-like publications about two of his most influential heroes: a book called James Dean Is Not Dead and a fanzine called simply The New York Dolls.
An early advocate of punk, the young Morrissey formed the UK branch of the New York Dolls fan club, and was one of forty-two audience members attendant at the infamous Sex Pistols show at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976.
Another strong influence on Morrissey was the Moors Murders in the early 1960s. The couple Ian Brady and Myra Hindley abducted, raped and brutally murdered several children, burying them on the moor above Manchester. The song "Suffer Little Children" on The Smiths' debut album was one of Morrissey's responses to the crimes and he has reflected that he could easily himself have been one of the child victims.
The Smiths are viewed by many as one of the most influential bands of the 1980s post-punk era. Morrissey's ambiguous sexuality, provocative iconoclasm, and lyrical compositions blended with guitarist Johnny Marr's highly melodic songwriting to sell many recordings. The band became a success in the UK, Ireland, and Australia and became a cult obsession in the United States of America, doing quite well on college radio charts with songs such as "How Soon Is Now?" and "Panic."
The band broke up due to conflict between Morrissey and Marr, after a productive period from 1985 to 1987 when they released several successful albums: Meat Is Murder, Strangeways, Here We Come, and the hit The Queen Is Dead.
Morrissey's work, both solo and with the Smiths, has been well regarded within England's artistic community and within the artistic establishment of England, even though he now lives in Los Angeles.
Morrissey is often noted as one of the key pop lyricists of his generation, with many subsequent bands hailing his influence. Detractors usually describe his work as depressing, while fans point to the sardonic humour which underpins his songs' frequent references to alienation and failed love. He does not shy from controversy in his songs. Themes which he has touched on include child murder, gang violence, domestic violence, prostitution, racism, drug-use, disability, and assassination. A celebration of the outsider is a constant theme in his work. While he has been stereotyped as appealing to shy teenagers, his work has been said to glorify working-class criminality. 
In the eighties Morrissey announced that he was celibate. Many believed him to be gay because the lyrics he wrote while in The Smiths tended toward sexual ambiguity. Also, two of Morrissey's beloved idols, Oscar Wilde and James Dean, reportedly had sexual relationships with men. Morrissey is reluctant to speak of his private life, which only fuels intense speculation on the subject. An openly gay journalist, Richard Smith, wrote that Morrissey should come out of the closet as 'a favour' to gay people. Morrissey himself said in an early 1990s Rolling Stone article, "I'm gay? Well, that's news to me." When asked to 'set the record straight' on this issue in the 2003 English Channel 4 Documentary "The Importance of Being Morrissey" he simply stated, "I don't see any 'crooked record'. People think they know, think they understand. I don't really care what people think -- it makes no difference to me. And I'm not hiding anything." He remains tight-lipped on the issue, which only adds to the mystery which has, in no small part, contributed to his allure for over 20 years.
Morrissey's subsequent career has also provided successful albums, and in 1994 he achieved his highest ever chart position with Vauxhall and I (1994) and its single "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get." After producing several albums in the early years of his solo career with a production outfit not unlike his collaboration with Marr, Morrissey moved on from the songwriting services of Stephen Street for Viva Hate (1988) and Bona Drag (1990) and Mark Nevin for Kill Uncle (1991). The band he assembled for 1992's hit album Your Arsenal sharply renewed his sound and sales success with a fresh, American rockabilly sound. Composition duties were split between guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte, who have been the core of Morrissey's band ever since.
Your Arsenal was produced by former David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson and it earned a Grammy nomination for best alternative album. Bowie, a fan of Morrissey, asked him to join his 1995 tour. However, feeling disenchanted with the tour and Bowie himself, Morrissey left the tour early. Bowie covered Morrissey's song "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" on his 1993 album "Black Tie, White Noise". In 2004, Morrissey spoke of Bowie in "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross" (his first UK television interview in 17 years) calling him "David Showie" and claiming that the veteran artist was simply a 'business'. Also, in a 2004 GQ magazine article, he said: "(He is) not the person he was. He is no longer David Bowie at all. Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy, and they're yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident."
Reputed to be uninterested in compromise or record company marketing principles, Morrissey has long suffered the consequences of operating as a quasi-outsider in the music industry. Though his large and loyal fan base follow his every move, his albums since 1996 had great trouble reaching a wider audience. Between 1999 and 2003, Morrissey was unable to find a record contract at all (at least one that satisfied his demands).
Accusations of racism meant he spent much of the 1990s maligned, based upon songs such as "Bengali In Platforms" and "National Front Disco", allegedly saying "I don't hate Pakistanis, but I dislike them immensely" in his teens, and an ill-advised performance at the first Madness re-union show at Finsbury Park, London draped in the Union Jack flag. The harshest backlash came from the NME music paper who made him persona non grata for more than a decade. (Such was the NME's fanatical love affair with Morrissey and The Smiths in the 80s and early 90s, the paper was jokingly called the New Morrissey Express). It is notable that throughout the criticism Morrissey faced at the time, no mention was made of his collaboration with Asian musician Nawazish Ali Khan on the Kill Uncle album, nor his longstanding history of support for anti-racist and left-leaning causes, including the Labour Party, Anti-Apartheid, CND and Amnesty International. This led many to observe the personal animosity of individual journalists was as much a factor in Morrissey's negative publicity during this period as any action by the man himself. Morrissey and the NME ended their feud in 2004.
In 1996, The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey and Johnny Marr for royalties and won. Appeals from both sides are still pending. For more detailed information on the court case, see the Wikipedia article on Mike Joyce.
Morrissey has always been outspoken and is known for his comments that have sparked controversy and outcry. His most famous enemies have been The Royal Family, the meat industry and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In a 2002 tour he famously said "bring me the head of Elton John." He has severely criticized artists like Madonna and George Michael. Other targets of his disapproval have been Band Aid, rap, reggae (a criticism he later retracted, stating that he was being facetious and that he grew up partly on the classic singles released by the British reggae label Trojan in the early to mid-70's), rave and teenage popstars.
Morrissey vacated his English home for Los Angeles in the late-1990s and found an entirely new life in the American West where, to the interest of many, he has connected with the Hispanic community, where there is now a big fan base. Morrissey's songs of alienation and isolation have appeared to translate lock, stock and barrel from the streets of Manchester to LA, something that he himself has expressed surprise and gratitude about. His 1931-built LA mansion is currently up for sale as he is relocating.
Morrissey on the cover of his 2004 album You Are The Quarry.In June, 2003 Sanctuary Records group announced a deal with Morrissey. He was given the one-time reggae label Attack Records as a platform to record new material and, reportedly, to sign new artists.
Morrissey's latest, titled You Are the Quarry was released on May 17, 2004 (but one day later in the US). Guitarist Alain Whyte described the work as a mix between Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I, and the album has received strong reviews. The first single, "Irish Blood, English Heart" debuted on KROQ on March 22, 2004 and was released internationally on May 10, 2004. The single reached No.3 in its first week of sales in the UK singles chart. This is the highest placing chart position for Morrissey in his entire career as both a solo artist and the lead singer of The Smiths. Also, the album is his most successful one, solo or with The Smiths. It has sold over a million copies.
At a Dublin concert on June 5 2004, Morrissey caused global controversy by announcing the death of former US President, Ronald Reagan; then exclaiming he would have preferred it if George W. Bush had died. 
With the release of "I Have Forgiven Jesus" in December 2004, Morrissey became the only artist to score 4 top 10 hits in the UK singles chart that year.
In 2005 a work of musical theater based on Morrissey's songs, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, premiered at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith, London.
Morrissey's forthcoming album is rumored to be called Ringleader of the Tormentors. Recorded in Rome, it is slated for completion in November 2005 and release in early 2006. The producer is Tony Visconti, famed for his work with T. Rex and David Bowie.