The song came together around April 1986, but musical elements can be traced back to an instrumental the band rehearsed at soundcheck the previous February. Lyrical elements or ideas could also be traced back to a discussion between Morrissey and Johnny at about the same time.

It was recorded in May 1986 at Livingston Studios in London with producer John Porter and fifth Smith Craig Gannon, alonside "The Draize Train" and an early, slower version of "Sweet And Tender Hooligan".


single version {2:20}
"Panic" single, all formats
• Greek 12" of "Bigmouth Strikes Again"
"The World Won't Listen" album
• Germany cd-single of "Sheila Take A Bow"
"Louder Than Bombs" album
"Best...I" album
"The Complete Picture" (video)
"Singles" album
"The Very Best Of The Smiths" [remastered 2001]
"The Sound Of The Smiths" [remastered 2008]


Euro-Tube 5 July 1986 [tv]
This 2-song performance (including "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out") is circulated on video bootlegs. The audio is commonly found in good quality on various manufactured bootlegs as well as in digital format on the internet. Collectors of audio oddities will be interested to know that this version of "Panic" features a longer drum intro than the version that would end up being released as a single shortly following this performance.
San Remo Festival 7 February 1987 [tv]
This 5-song performance (including "Shoplifter Of The World Unite", "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side"" and three takes of "Ask") is circulated on video bootlegs. The audio from this broadcast is not circulated on bootlegs because the performance was lipsynched.


This song was done in concert by the Smiths every night on the 1986 Queen Is Dead tour, bar one concert that ended prematurely. This means that it was done 39 times in total, perhaps even 40 if we take into account the fact that information is missing for one set that year.

live Kilburn 23 October 1986 {3:06}
"Rank" (live album)

It was done a further 80 times by Morrissey after the Smiths. It was reintroduced in his sets at the end of May 2006, so a few months into the Tour Of The Tormentors MMVI, and done without break each and every night until the end of that tour, for a total of 50 performances, most of them as set opener. The song was a part-timer in the first half of the subsequent Greatest Hits tour, done 20 times between early May and early June 2007, plus 4 more airings in July. Morrissey sang it 5 times during the first leg of the 2011 tour. It was last heard once on the 2012 tour.


No demos or studio outtakes of this song have leaked to the general public at this point in time.



(about "Panic") "It is the one I like the most from The Smiths."
- Morrissey, interview given to KCXX in 1998

"To those who took offence at the 'burn down the disco' line I'd say -- please show me the black members of New Order! For me, personally, New Order make great disco music, but there's no black people in the group. The point I'm making is that you can't just interchange the words 'black' and 'disco', or the phrases 'black music' and 'disco music'. It makes no earthly sense... 'Panic' came about at the time of Chernobyl. Morrissey and myself were listening to a Newsbeat radio report about it. The story about this shocking disaster comes to an end and then, immediately, we're off into Wham!'s 'I'm Your Man'. I remember actually saying 'what the fuck has this got to do with peoples' lives?' We hear about Chernobyl, then, seconds later, we're expected to be jumping around to 'I'm Your Man'... And so -- 'hang the blessed DJ'. I think it was a great lyric, important and applicable to anyone who lives in England. I mean, even the most ardent disco fan wouldn't want to be subjected to that stuff, would they?"
- Johnny Marr, New Musical Express, February 1987

Didn't some say 'Panic' was slightly similar to T Rex's 'Metal Guru'?
"Well, it was whispered somewhere in the corridors of the British Isles, I can't remember where, but... I don't know, everything has its reference points, I suppose. Like the clothes we wear have their reference points... I thought the song was extremely funny, I really did. And I thought it was extremely funny to hear it on national daytime radio on the few occasions it was actually played in the mish-mash of monstrous morbidity... I think it was quite amusing -- a tiny revolution in its own sweet way."
- Morrissey, Record Mirror, 14 February 1987

"The influence of T-Rex is very profound on certain songs of The Smiths i.e. "Panic" and "Shoplifters". Morrissey was himself also mad about Bolan. When we wrote "Panic" he was obsessed with "Metal Guru" and wanted to sing in the same style. He didn't stop singing it in an attempt to modify the words of "Panic" to fit the exact rhythm of "Metal Guru". He also exhorted me to use the same guitar break so that the two songs are the same!!!"
- Johnny Marr, Les Inrockuptibles, 21 April 1999