The Stone Roses were an English alternative rock band formed in Manchester in 1984. They were one of the pioneering groups of the Madchester movement that was active during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The band's most notable lineup consisted of vocalist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Gary "Mani" Mounfield, and drummer Alan "Reni" Wren.
The band released their debut album in 1989, the self titled The Stone Roses. The album was a breakthrough success for the band. At this time the Stone Roses decided to capitalize on their success by signing to a major label; however, their current record label Silvertone would not let them out of their contract, which led to a long legal battle that culminated with the band signing with Geffen Records in 1991, and then finally releasing their second album Second Coming in 1994. The group soon disbanded after several lineup changes throughout the supporting tour, which began with Reni first departing, followed by Squire.
Formation and early releases
Vocalist Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire knew each other from secondary school, and formed a short-lived band called The Patrol in 1980 along with Andy Couzens and drummer Simon Wolstencroft. While working as an animator for Cosgrove Hall during the day, Squire continued to play guitar, while Brown gave up performing in bands and ran a Northern soul night in a Salford club. Squire started a new band, The Waterfront, along with bassist Gary "Mani" Mounfield and a singer named Kaiser, which was influenced by the 1960s and by bands such as Orange Juice. Kaiser was replaced by Brown in 1983, and shortly afterwards the band changed their name to The Stone Roses (the name was derived from the names of the groups English Rose and The Rolling Stones).). By 1984, the line-up was Squire, Brown, bassist and former roadie Peter Garner, guitarist Andy Couzens, and drummer Alan Wren.
In 1985, already with a strong following, the band recorded tracks with producer Martin Hannett that were intended to comprise their debut album, but the band's sound changed and they abandoned the album (it was later released as Garage Flower). The Stone Roses released their first single, the Hannett-produced double A-side "So Young"/"Tell Me". At this point the band had a more goth/punk sound, more in line with Manchester bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s period such as Joy Division or Magazine, although by the time of their next single, "Sally Cinnamon", the group's sound had changed considerably. Released in 1987 on FM Revolver records, "Sally Cinnamon" contained chiming guitar hooks and a strong melody.
In late 1986 Andy Couzens left the band due to differences with manager Gareth Evans, joining Steve Diggle in Buzzcocks F.O.C., and less than a year later, bassist Pete Garner left the band, in August 1987. The Stone Roses then brought in Waterfront bassist Mani (Gary Mounfield); Brown recalled, "When Mani joined it almost changed overnight. It became a totally different groove Straight away, everything just fell into place". A single, the psychedelic-tinged "Elephant Stone", followed, along with an album deal with Jive/Zomba offshoot Silvertone Records.
Debut album and breakthrough success
From the band's self titled debut album The Stone Roses.
"Fools Gold" (1989)
A single from 1989.
In 1988 and early 1989, The Stone Roses recorded their debut album, produced by John Leckie. The Stone Roses was well received by the music press and is now considered one of the finest British albums of all time . Also in 1989 they won four NME Readers poll awards in a year with band of the year, best new band, single of the year for "Fools Gold" and album of the year for their self titled debut album.
The singles "Made Of Stone" and "She Bangs the Drums" became moderately successful. Later that year the band released a double A-side single, "Fools Gold/What the World Is Waiting For", which reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart in November 1989. Originally intended as a B-side, "Fools Gold" quickly became the Roses' most famous song and a performance of it on Top of the Pops cemented their national fame.
One minute into a live 1989 TV performance and the power failed as Ian Brown roared "amateurs" at Tracey MacLeod.
In 1990 The Stone Roses decided to stage a huge outdoor gig at Spike Island in Widnes. The gig took place on 27 May 1990 and was attended by approximately 27,000 people. The event was considered a failure at the time due to sound problems and bad organisation, yet has become legendary over the years - a Woodstock for the baggy generation. The Roses followed Spike Island with another big gig at Glasgow Green, and by July had released their final single for Silvertone, "One Love".
"One Love" reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, The Stone Roses' highest chart placing yet. After its release, things quickly began to unravel. It was to be the Roses' last original release for four years, as they entered a protracted legal battle to terminate their five year contract with Silvertone. Silvertone owners Zomba Records took out an injunction against the band in September 1990 to prevent them from recording with any other label. In May 1991 the courts sided with the group, which was then let free of its contract. The Stone Roses subsequently signed with Geffen Records (garnering a two million pound advance for their next record) and began work on their second album. However, Silvertone appealed the ruling, which delayed work on the record for another year.
Second Coming and breakup
Following the court case with Silvertone and Zomba, The Stone Roses separated themselves from Manchester's club culture and spent much of 1992 and 1993 travelling in Europe. The group finally commenced work on their second album in mid-1993. However, work on the album proceeded slowly, hampered by Brown's and Squire's new fatherhood and the deaths of several people close to the band. John Leckie ultimately left the project as the band would not sign a production contract. Afterwards, The Stone Roses continued production with engineer Simon Dawson at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where they spent 347 ten-hour days working on the album.
The Stone Roses finally released their follow-up album, Second Coming, in December 1994. Mostly written by John Squire, the music now had a dark, heavy blues-rock sound. "Love Spreads" reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. Second Coming received a mixed reception from the British press, which music journalist Simon Reynolds attributed less to the music itself and "more to do with the resentment that the Roses, divorced from the cultural moment that gave them meaning, were now just another band".
In March 1995 Reni left the band, and this marked the beginning of the end of The Stone Roses. The band, which had never been particularly media friendly, gave no real explanation for his departure. A replacement drummer, Robbie Maddix, who had previously worked with Rebel MC, was found, and the band soldiered on. Also recruited around this time for the live shows was session-keyboardist/programmer Nigel Ippinson, who had previously played with the band on the re-working of "Begging You" for its release as a single.
A secret comeback tour of the UK in April 1995 was planned, but this was cancelled after the music press announced the dates. A major blow to the band's status was the cancellation of their planned UK comeback performance at the Glastonbury Festival in June 1995. John Squire had suffered a mountain biking accident in northern California just weeks before the show, breaking his collarbone. The band finally booked a full UK tour for November and December 1995 and all dates sold out in a day.
John Squire left the band on 1 April 1996, releasing a statement which described his departure as "the inevitable conclusion to the gradual social and musical separation we have undergone in the past few years". Eventually, former Simply Red session guitarist Aziz Ibrahim was recruited to fill Squire's shoes. The band persevered for another six months, culuminating in two disastrous performances at Benicassim Festival and the Reading Festival in August 1996, at which disappointed fans booed and threw objects at the stage, and Brown's vocals were described as "so off-key it was excruciating to have to listen". The music press were united in their criticism of the performance, with the NME describing "I am the Resurrection" as "more like the eternal crucifixion". Brown and Mani dissolved the group in October 1996.
Ian Brown and John Squire have both had successful solo careers since the Roses' breakup. Squire formed The Seahorses, who released one album before breaking up, and released two solo albums. In 2007, Squire told a reporter from the Manchester Evening News that he was giving up music for good to focus on his career as a painter. Brown has released five solo albums, all but one of which have charted within the top 10 of the UK Albums Chart. A large number of these albums featured Aziz Ibrahim on guitar.
Neither Mani nor Reni have pursued solo careers. Mani joined Primal Scream as their bassist in 1996, and has remained in the band consistently since. Reni has remained inactive for the most part since the Roses' breakup. He started a new band called The Rub in 1999, and played several gigs. Nothing has been heard of The Rub since that tour. In a rare interview in 2005, Reni said that he was writing new songs that he would perform with Mani.
Despite multiple rumours that the Roses would reform, Squire and Brown have both repeatedly denied any possibility of a reunion. Past tensions haven't subsided, and the pair have not spoken since Squire resigned. Squire was interviewed in May 2007 by Dave Haslam on XFM Manchester radio and further lowered the likeliness of a reunion, claiming that even if Ian Brown phoned him and asked if he would be up for gig, he would turn the offer down. The only partial reunion since the breakup took place on 30 March 2007 at former Smiths' bassist Andy Rourke's charity concert in aid of Manchester Versus Cancer. Ian Brown performed a solo set and was joined by Mani and unofficial fifth member Cressa, along with Andy Rourke, Maka Simato and Steve White to perform "I Am the Resurrection". Reni was supposedly lined up to play drums, but for unknown reasons, did not turn up. The following year's show was reported by The Sun to have Mani, Andy Rourke and Peter Hook's group Freebass on the lineup, to be joined by Brown and Oasis singer Liam Gallagher. Brown denied the claim on his website and myspace later that day. After telling Tim Lovejoy that if The Specials reformed he would reunite the Stone Roses, Mani appeared on Lovejoy's internet show Channel Bee and announced that he spoke to Reni and John Squire who both wanted to reunite for the 20th Anniversary of the debut album. He claimed that he just needed to persuade Ian Brown. A spokesman for Squire stated in January 2009 that Squire "has no plans to return to music".
Mani has stated on more than one occasion that the band would reform "The day after City win the European Cup". Mani is a season ticket holder at rivals Manchester United.
The 20th-anniversary edition of the band's debut album is to be released in August 2009, remastered by John Leckie, including a collectors' box-set edition and the previously unreleased song 'Pearl Bastard'.
Reported 2009 reunion
The UK's Daily Mirror reported on 17 March 2009 that "sources" had confirmed that the band was to reform in 2009 for a 21 date tour. The report was given sufficient credence to be repeated on the New Musical Express's website. . To date, however, no official announcement has materialised, and John Squire and Ian Brown have both denied the claim.
On 19 March 2009, it was reported that John Squire had created a piece of artwork depicting his less than positive views of the band reforming. The piece read "I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses 18.3.09", which strongly indicated that rumours of the band reforming were highly unlikely.
In an interview on the BBC's Newsnight, Squire stated that he thought the reunion of the band would never happen even if Ian Brown and he were still on speaking terms. He stated that he would refuse, not being interested in reforming the band. He said that he would be dedicating himself to his visual art work and that "music is a young man's game".
On 9 June 2009 bassist Mani stated that the band would reform if they were offered enough money, but admitted he's "very nearly given up" on trying to orchestrate a reunion and two months later told BBC Newsbeat how Ian Brown "isn't up for it at all".
In the September issue of Q Magazine, in which he spoke about his new album, My Way, Ian Brown revealed that he would be up for a reunion, but only for charity. He said he would donate the proceeds to youth clubs. However, he said that this would only happen if the other band members agreed to do the same.
Musical style and influences
The Stone Roses were part of the Madchester movement, a style of alternative rock that mixed acid house rhythms with guitar pop sounds. In contrast to their colleagues Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses based their sound on traditional pop songs, merely enhanced by dance beats. The band's influences included garage rock, Northern soul, punk rock, and artists such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Brown and Mani favoured reggae but their bandmates didn't, instead preferring heavy metal.
Classic line up
Ian Brown - lead vocals (1984 -1996)
John Squire - guitar (1984-1996)
Mani (Gary Mounfield) - bass.(1987-1996)
Reni (Alan Wren) - drums and backing vocals.(1984-1995)
Before main lineup:
Andy Couzens - rhythm guitar (February 1984 to July 1986)
Pete Garner - bass (February 1984 to August 1987)
After main lineup:
Robbie Maddix - drums & backing vocals (April 1995 to August 1996, replaced Reni)
Aziz Ibrahim - guitar (April 1996 to August 1996, replaced John Squire)