Fall Singer Arrested For Attacking Keyboardist Girlfriend

Veteran British bandleader Mark E. Smith charged with misdemeanor assault and released on $1,000 bail.

Mark E. Smith, leader of the British post-punk band the Fall, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly choking, punching and kicking the band's keyboard player, Julie Nagle, who is also the singer's girlfriend.

Police said the incident occurred at Manhattan's Quality Hotel East Side prior to the final date on the band's recent East Coast tour. The alleged attack resulted in the cancellation of an appearance later that night at the club Brownies.

Officer John Giammarino of the New York Police Department's 17th Precinct said that Smith allegedly attacked Nagle on Wednesday. Smith was arrested that afternoon on a misdemeanor assault charge and taken into custody pending an arraignment the following day. He was released Friday morning on $1,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 14, according to Wayne Brison, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Brison said the maximum penalty for the charge is up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Fans who showed up to the Manhattan club Brownies that night were greeted with a sign that said the band would not be performing for the second night of its two-night engagement. "I just talked to [Smith and Nagle], and they don't have any money or any place to stay," said Dee Pop, who booked the band's recent eight-date East Coast mini-tour and who is also the drummer in groove-rock band Bush Tetras. Pop said he had no idea what precipitated the incident, which took place prior to the final date of the tour.

"It seemed like every other day the shows were amazing or a spectacle," Pop said. "There were no real violent outbursts, although there were moments." Pop described one recent show in which he said the band left the stage repeatedly and returned for erratic versions of its moody, arty rock. "[Smith] and the band are like cats and dogs," Pop added. "They fight all the time, depending on his mood."

At the Fall's March 29 show in New York, Smith appeared to be sporting a black eye when he took the stage for the 90-minute performance, according to a SonicNet Music News review of the Coney Island High show.

Pop, who said he didn't want to comment on -- as he put it -- "Smith's problems," said the purpose of the showcase gigs in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Boston was to lure label representatives in hope of getting a recording contract for the Fall in the U.S. "I kind-of doubt that happened," Pop said.

The mercurial Smith made headlines in England in November when the New Musical Express reported that he fired his long-suffering band after a "spectacular, drink-fueled bust-up in Belfast [Northern Ireland]" on Nov. 8. Smith arrived at the Belfast show "in poor spirits," according to the report, and proceeded to kick over the band's equipment, after which he fired the group and flung a bottle of ketchup against the backstage door. The venue's manager called an old friend of Smith's, Terry Hooley, and requested that he try and calm the singer, who had reportedly been drinking champagne and was "difficult to reason with."

Hooley then grabbed the singer by the neck to restrain him, the report said. The singer, who thought he was about to get punched, according to NME, asked if he could remove his false teeth first. Hooley reportedly removed his own glass eye, instead.

Fans who missed Wednesday's show were given the option of a reduced ticket-price to see the scheduled show-openers, Stab City and Bottom, or a full refund, according to Chris White, the club's booking manager. "[It was] a drag [the Fall] couldn't go on because of [Smith's] behavior," White said.