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The Stone Roses

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 original lineup consisted of Ian Brown (vocals), John Squire (guitar), Andy Couzens (guitar), Pete Garner (bass) and Alan "Reni" Wren (drums). Couzens and Garner left in 1987. Couzens' position was left vacant and Garner was replaced by Gary "Mani" Mounfield in 1987, and this completed the band's most visible lineup. Reni would depart in 1995 and was replaced by Robbie Maddix, and a year later Squire departed and was replaced by Aziz Ibrahim. Nigel Ippinson joined the band in 1995.

Their 1989 debut album The Stone Roses quickly achieved the status of a classic in the UK, and topped NME's list of the Greatest British Albums of All Time. The band decided to capitalise on their success by signing to a major label, but Silvertone would not let them out of their contract, which led to a long legal battle. The band signed with Geffen Records in 1991, but it wouldn't be until 1994 that they released another album, Second Coming. The album had a heavier sound to it, which was not well received by the press. After experiencing several lineup changes throughout the supporting tour, the band decided to disband after its completion and associated touring.

History

Early years

The first version of the Stone Roses emerged from South Manchester around 1980 and were called The Patrol, playing early gigs at Lostock Youth Club and South Trafford College. During the early 1980s, when vocalist Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire recruited drummer, Reni (real name Alan Wren), bassist Pete Garner, and rhythm guitarist Andy Couzens to complete the original line-up. Brown and Squire were childhood friends who had attended Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. They played their first major gig in their home town, at Manchester University, on 2 October 1985.

Publicity shots from around that time feature Squire in a bandanna and Brown wearing leather trousers.

In 1985 The Stone Roses released their first single, the Martin 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 70's/early 80's period such Joy Division or Magazine, although the Garage Flower album shows them developing towards the characteristic sound of their better known material.

By the time of their next single, "Sally Cinnamon", the Roses' sound had changed considerably. Released in 1987 on FM Revolver records, "Sally Cinnamon" contained chiming guitar hooks and a strong melody, and sounded more like The Byrds than the Sex Pistols. Brown had developed a new, softer singing style and Squire and Reni were becoming more confident and streamlined. In late 1986 Andy Couzens left the band due to differences with manager Gareth Evans, and less than a year later, bassist Pete Garner left the band, in August 1987. The Roses then brought in bassist Mani (Gary Mounfield). With the definitive Roses line-up now complete, the band became much tighter as musicians, and developed a trademark visual style - baggy clothes and Jackson Pollock shirts, guitars and drums. A single, the psychedelic-tinged "Elephant Stone", followed, along with an album deal with Jive/Zomba offshoot Silvertone Records.

First album years

In 1989, The Stone Roses released their debut album, produced by John Leckie. The Stone Roses opened with "I Wanna Be Adored" and closed with "I Am the Resurrection" (or in America "Fools Gold"). The album was well received by the music press and is now considered one of the finest British albums of all time.. Also in 1989 they made history by becoming the first to win four NME Awards in a year with band of the year, best new band, single of the year for Fool's Gold and album of the year for their self titled debut album

The singles "Made Of Stone" and "She Bangs The Drums" followed to moderate success. Later that year the band released a double A-side single, "Fools Gold/What the World Is Waiting For", which charted in the UK at no. 8 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. It was also the band's most musically adventurous song yet: nine minutes, 53 seconds in length, it featured a wah-wah drenched guitar performance from John Squire over a beat resembling James Brown's "Funky Drummer".

Seemingly coming from nowhere, the Stone Roses appeared to be the right band at the right time. The Roses had a broad appeal too: their upbeat, danceable sound and positive outlook had much in common with the blossoming rave scene at the time, yet they also appealed to more traditional indie fans.

Following the band's success, their former label, FM Revolver, re-released the single "Sally Cinnamon" with an accompanying video. The Stone Roses were incensed by this, particularly what they described as a "third rate" video. They went to Revolver's offices on 30 January 1990 and after an argument with the label's boss, Paul Birch, threw paint over the offices, Birch himself and his girlfriend, and then vandalised two cars outside. They were subsequently arrested and tried, and in October they were found guilty and fined £3,000 each plus costs.

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 4 in the UK charts, the Roses' highest chart placing yet. After its release, things quickly began to unravel. It was to be the Roses' last original release for 4 years, as they entered a protracted legal battle to terminate their five year contract with Silvertone. Unable to do this, they were prevented from releasing any musical works as a band for the next four years and the band lost the momentum they had built up following their debut album, and disappeared out of public view.

Second Coming and breakup

Eventually they wrangled themselves out of their contract with Silvertone and signed a lucrative contract with Geffen Records. In late 1994, a full five years after their debut, the Stone Roses released their follow-up album, Second Coming. Mostly written by John Squire, the music now had a dark, heavy blues-rock sound.

The album was seen as a let-down by much of the music press. However, some felt that songs such as "Ten Storey Love Song" and "Love Spreads" (the latter reaching #2 in the UK charts) showed the Roses could still conjure up their old magic. Second Coming is a mix of 1970s hard rock, folk rock ("Your Star Will Shine", "Tightrope") and dance-rock ("Begging You"), with "Ten Storey Love Song" the closest to Byrds-tinged songs such as "Sally Cinnamon", but with the feel of Led Zeppelin.

During their absence The Stone Roses had left a huge gap in the music scene and they returned to find a new wave of soundalike bands had taken their place. The Britpop scene had arrived and the Roses, along with such bands as The Smiths, The Jam, The Kinks and The Beatles, were hailed as its founding fathers. The Roses were mostly positive about Oasis (with whom John Squire joined on stage at Knebworth in 1996 to play "Champagne Supernova") but held most of the scene in contempt, Squire describing it as comprising "Kensington art-wankers".

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 & Simply Red, 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 collar bone. 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, to the anger of the remaining members, particularly Ian Brown, who stated that Squire had locked himself away from other band members and frequently used cocaine. Eventually, former Asia and Simply Red session guitarist Aziz Ibrahim was recruited to fill Squire's shoes. The band persevered for another six months before Brown and Mani dissolved the group after two disastrous performances at Benicassim Festival and the Reading Festival in August, 1996, at which disappointed fans booed and threw objects at the stage.

Post-Roses

Ian Brown and John Squire have both had successful solo careers since the Roses' break up. 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 5 solo albums, all but one of which have charted within the UK top 10. A large amount of these albums featured Aziz Ibrahim on guitar.

Neither Mani nor Reni have pursued solo careers. Mani joined Indie/Dance act 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 mulitiple 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 March 30, 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.

Influence

Brown was a natural showman and held sway over the crowd throughout live performances. His style influenced the likes of The Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess (who Brown later mocked during an NME interview for copying his style). The band were noted for their dislike of traditional gigs and often preferred to put on their own events reminiscent of the early acid house scene.

Although some later Britpop songs contained social commentaries, often ironic or cynical - notably Blur's "Country House" and "Girls & Boys", and Pulp's "Common People" - the Stone Roses' work tends to be more political or idealistic. The song "Elizabeth My Dear", for instance, clearly criticised the monarchy. The May 1968 student riots in Paris are said to have provided some inspiration for their first album, with the colours of the French flag shown sideways on the cover, and with lemons alongside placed upon Squire's Jackson Pollock-type painting (lemons had been used to counteract the effects of tear gas during the riots). The song "Bye Bye Badman" also made references to the student riots (a theme reprised by Brown in the title of the first track of his solo debut album) and the use of lemons in particular.

Their appearance on BBC Two's The Late Show, broadcast on November 22, 1989, infamously ended early after they exceeded the allowed level of noise for the building, thereby cutting out the sound. Ian Brown shouted "Amateurs!" as the presenter, live on air, vainly reassured that the problem would be fixed. "I Am The Resurrection" was used on the BBC's Manchester Passion programme in 2006 which told the biblical Easter story using Manchester music.

Bands influenced by the Stone Roses include Oasis, Pulp, Suede, Coldplay, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, The Bluetones, The Charlatans and The Verve. Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets frontman Alex Turner has stated that Ian Brown is the band's musical hero.

More than a decade after the group broke up, there are still calls from fans and critics that they should reform, with numerous petitions forming, including groups on the social-networking sites Facebook and MySpace.

Personnel

November 1987 - March 1995

Other members

  • Andy Couzens - guitarist. Left band in July 1986 after a dispute with the band's manager Gareth Evans and formed The High, a moderately successful band during the "Madchester" era
  • Pete Garner - bass (February 1984 to August 1987)
  • Cressa (Steve Cressa) - unofficial 5th member of band, dancer and live guitar effects technician (1989-1990)
  • Robbie Maddix - percussion, backing vocals (until August 1996). Replaced Reni in April 1995
  • Nigel Ippinson - keyboards, backing vocals. Performed keyboards with the band during the latter stages of the Second Coming tour from July 1995 onwards
  • Aziz Ibrahim - guitar. Replaced John Squire in April 1996

Discography

References

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