Roses blog



This is the one. It’s the definitive biography of the band, stuffed with photos that have never been seen before. The writing feels really fresh and definitive. It’s a classic (Alex Heminsley BBC 6 Music Book of the Month)

A comprehensive, no-holds-barred account… details with steely, forensic precision the story of the group’s ascent, heyday and spectacular implosion. All the triumphs and disasters are here (The Sunday Times)

A forensic, detailed and beautifully researched history of the Stone Roses…. full of new stuff (John Harris)

For the casual listener, or die-hard fanatic, this is a genuine masterpiece (What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision)

This is the one Stone Roses book fans will want to read. Copies of this superb biography will not remain on shop shelves for long (The Bookseller)

An era-defining, definitive biography (Q)

A loving and detailed biog (Mojo)

Cute on the machinations of the industry and internal band politics (The Times, Book of the Week)

Brilliant… forensically put together (Gordon Smart XFM)

Simon Spence’s Stone Roses compendium has it all – interviews with the Manc group’s closest confidants, unseen photos and a timeline that stretches all the way back to the group’s inception . . . The definitive word on the band (NME Music Book of the Year 2013)

Succeeds as a cautionary tale: up-and-coming garage bands would be wise to study it and show it to their lawyers as a prophylactic measure to avoid being fleeced and exploited (The New York Times)

A thorough biography of the Stone Roses … illuminates the bickering and court battles that led to their downfall (The Guardian)

Comprehensive retelling of majestic rise, shambolic fall and royal resurrection of the original Northern wags. Unseen photos include one of entire band pissing in a field (Esquire)

Rich with context. The view from the American industry is particularly illuminating (Observer)

A manful effort to capture the story of the Roses’ rise to British fame and infamy (Metro)

Spence explores this curious tale in depth and style. This is a rich and rewarding record of the story so far (The Financial Times, Pop Book of the Year)

‘Highly recommended’ (Kevin Cummins)

You should definitely check it out (Sir Paul Smith)

About the Author

Simon Spence collaborated with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham on the acclaimed memoirs Stoned and 2Stoned. He has written for the NME, i-D, Dazed & Confused and the Independent. He was at the Stone Roses’ legendary Blackpool and Alexandra Palace shows in 1989 and covered their era-defining Spike Island show for The Face.

Jacket & Images

The author, Simon Spence:

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 Simon-Spence.B&W-6

Please see below for images cleared for press use. If you are interested in obtaining permission for any other images in the book, please contact Annabel Robinson or
Helen Barnes at FMcM Associates annabelr[at] or helenb[at]

Tour bus, Sweden, 1985 (Garner, Brown, Couzens) © Lena Kagg Ferrero

Couzens and Brown on stage, Sweden © Lena Kagg Ferrero

Squire, Brown and Garner in rehearsal © Sue Dean.

Squire, Garner and Brown on stage, 1987 © Sue Dean

Brown on stage, 1986 © Sue Dean

Reni on stage, 1987 © Sue Dean

Brown and his tattoo, 1988 © Sue Dean

Signing the contract, 1987 © Sue Dean

Press Releases

StoneRoses_COVBook Description – Paperback

Publication Date: 6 Jun 2013

The definitive story of The Stone Roses by Simon Spence, with an updated final chapter covering the reunion rollercoaster ride.

From the Manchester backwaters to the worldwide 2012 tour, War and Peace lays bare the irresistible tale of the last of the great bands.

Based on 400 hours of interviews with over seventy of The Stone Roses’ closest associates, including six former band members, War and Peace is the first major biography of the band that defined a generation.

Originally planned in collaboration with Reni, the reclusive drummer, this book had been a year in the making when the Roses, against all odds, announced their re-formation. It is a remarkable coda to an astonishing story. In 1989 their debut album and the single ‘Fools Gold’ made them the most exciting British export since the Sex Pistols. With their incendiary aura the Roses became figureheads of the ‘Madchester’ movement.

War and Peace traces the band’s genesis, studded with violent gigs and abandoned recordings, and shaped by their infamous manager Gareth Evans. The Roses’ legendary gigs culminated in the era-defining Spike Island show in 1990. From this pinnacle the unravelling was spectacular.

But the true story behind their rise and fall – and resurrection – has never been told. Until now.

* With 40 unseen photos, including from renowned rock photographer Dennis Morris

‘This is the one. It’s the definitive biography of the band, stuffed with photos that have never been seen before. The writing feels really fresh and definitive. It’s a classic’ Alex Heminsley BBC 6 Music Book of the Month

‘A comprehensive, no-holds-barred account… details with steely, forensic precision the story of the group’s ascent, heyday and spectacular implosion. All the triumphs and disasters are here’ The Sunday Times

‘An era-defining, definitive biography’ Q

Simon Spence collaborated with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham on the acclaimed memoirs Stoned and 2Stoned. He has written for the NMEi-D,Dazed & Confused and the Independent. He was at the Stone Roses’ legendary Blackpool and Alexandra Palace shows in 1989 and covered their era-defining Spike Island show for The Face.


The definitive story of a band that defined a generation…


By Simon Spence
Published 7 June, Viking, £20

***Strictly embargoed: 1st June [for July 2012 issues only]***

It has been the most anticipated comeback of the 21st Century. After 16 years, the Manchester band with the golden guitar riffs, anthemic melodies and the ‘adored’ front man will be reforming for a World tour this Summer. If rumours are correct and the band is committed to a media blackout until June 2012, it may well be left to this book and its author to tell the full story of how they came to be here: the story of the rise, the fall, and the resurrection, of a band that defined a generation.

Originally planned in collaboration with Reni, the band’s reclusive drummer, The Stone Roses: War and Peace had been a year in the making when, against all odds, The Stone Roses announced their reformation. They withdrew from the project, but not before author Simon Spence had interviewed over 80 of the key characters in the Roses story including their closest collaborators and seven former band members.

Based on this exclusive and original material, The Stone Roses: War and Peace comes closer than any book or magazine article ever has to dispelling the myths, and telling the true tale of this famously media-shy foursome.

The book includes 40 unseen photographs (many by legendary rock photographer Dennis Morris, charting the band’s entire career), spectacularly rare photos from a 1985 tour of Sweden, and unseen ephemera from producer John Leckie and first manager Howard Jones.

The Stone Roses: War and Peace charts the band’s genesis in 1983, studded with violent gigs and abandoned recordings, and their development as they nurtured their sound and began to build the fan-base that would remain loyal to them through great shows, no-shows, poor shows, and 16 years later, the comeback shows – which were to sell out in minutes.

It illustrates the band’s slow build to fame, as they first took Manchester, then the UK, then the World. How they came to create such songs as ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, ‘Waterfall’, ‘I Am the Resurrection’ and ‘She Bangs the Drums’ which would become national anthems for many years to come. The band reached the giddy heights of superstardom at Spike Island in 1990. But from this pinnacle, the unravelling was spectacular.

The band refused to play in America, were arrested for vandalizing a record company and dragged through the High Court by their own record label. Emerging victorious, the Roses signed one of the most lucrative record contracts in history with Geffen Records. The legal battles, however, had damaged their momentum irrevocably – particularly the already faltering song writing relationship between Squire and Brown. The making of their second album was the stuff of legend – an arduously long and painful confinement that drove the band apart. They disbanded in turmoil, and virtually penniless, in 1996.

But the myth of The Stone Roses wasn’t to end there. Their debut album is now widely recognised as one of the best ever made, and whilst each band member embarked on his own projects, their former record company continued to release anniversary editions of that debut, B-sides, remixes and Best of’s – as if to prime us for the time when they would return. That time is now.

This book captures the magic that is The Stone Roses, getting to the heart of a band that have been perpetually and intentionally hard to fathom for 30 years. But more than that, it contextualises the music scene of the 80’s and 90’s, identifying the Roses’ place in it, and shows how they have gone on to influence the bands of today. It is a defining book. About a band that defined a generation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Simon Spence collaborated with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham on the acclaimed memoirs Stoned and 2Stoned. He has written for the NME, i-D, Dazed & Confused and the Independent. He was at the Stone Roses’ legendary Blackpool and Alexandra Palace shows in 1989 and covered their era-defining Spike Island show for The Face.


The Stone Roses’ tour dates:

INTERVIEWS: We do not have access to the band, but author Simon Spence will be available for interviews and feature commissions

CONTACT: For any publicity enquiries, please contact Annabel Robinson or Helen Barnes at FMcM on   Tel: 0207 4057422 or email annabelr[at] / helenb[at]


Q magazine news story

the inside track on The Stone Roses’ progress in the studio (yes, there’s a new record on the way… fingers crossed)!

3 page news story – Q, May 2016 issue



After a number of delays, the Japanese edition is due for release 22 April 2016

provisional cover – removable ‘belly’ band



free in-store bookmark


Publisher: Disk Union



Q Magazine cover story

2 x 3,000+ words – profiles on Squire and Reni by Simon Spence.


Paperback edition of War and Peace named music book of year in NME.

‘Released a year on from their Heaton Park comeback, former NME journalist Simon Spence’s Stone Roses compendium has it all – interviews with the Manc group’s closest confidants, unseen photos and a timeline that stretches all the way back to the group’s inception. No wonder, then, that it was lauded one the definitive word on the band.’

Original hardback cover


Book Notes – largehearted boy (America)


The Stone Roses: War and Peace, by Simon Spence

The sell: The definitive story including five pages long ‘cast, in order of appearance’. Shakespeare goes baggy, basically.
What to expect: Comprehensive retelling of majestic rise, shambolic fall and royal resurrection of the original Northern wags. Unseen photos include one of entire band pissing in a field. Top, mate!
Sample quote: “They were a rowdy bunch, cruising about and getting ‘involved in skullduggery and shenanigans’, often clashing with the ‘smellies’ or ‘stinkers’ in nearby Oldham. ‘We’d kick fuck out of anyone with a leather jacket on or with long hair or anything like that,’ Mani said.”
What the critics say: “A northern picaresque full of pathos and farce, and Spence’s version is as good as definitive.” Word (RIP)
Out now on Penguin paperback

Fife Today

The Stone Roses:War and Peace

Recommended by Brendan McHugh

This hugely impressive book was all but complete when the band announced their shock reunion. Based on 400 hours of interviews with those closest to the notoriously media-shy band, this is the definitive account of how four working class lads from Manchester formed a group that appeared at one point to have the world at their feet.

Guardian 13/06/2013



5 June, nice quote from me @ the roses

New York Times

I don’t know if Loren sent this to you—but here is the review (full page!) of the book running in this weekend’s NYT! The writer is a bit crabby (and obviously doesn’t understand that the book was originally published in the UK and therefore geared for a more UK centric audience) but hey it’s a full page!!




copyright Dennis Morris


Paul Oakenfold  in Dubai


War + Peace is being published in America by St Martin’s Press on 2 April 2013.

It picked up a good review already in Kirkus – a respected industry book-review journal in the US. They’re very well known for being downright nasty in their reviews if they don’t like a book. I’ve copied the full review in the ‘Reviews’ section of this blog. It’s pretty solid for a review from such a potentially snarky outlet.

The American edition is in the Top 20 American Amazon – Hot New Releases in Music Biographies – chart right now.

In the UK – leading Roses fansite, is continuing with the promised series of interview transcripts from the book.

Dennis Morris / Glasgow Green

We used a shot by photographer Dennis Morris on the cover of War and Peace. He sent me over 1,000 images (studio and live) to look over. We were lucky to be able to choose  twenty more of his never-seen-before photos to include inside War and Peace. I have sung his praises (I interviewed him for the book – his relationship with the group dates back to 1985) already in this blog.

This is one of his shots I wanted to use. My favourite from his 1990 Glasgow Green shots.

We couldn’t. I guess he was saving it for his own limited edition book: This Is The One  – A photo essay on the rise of The Stone Roses published by WSI Publishing Ltd Price £295.

As part of the research for War And Peace I used two key Roses websites – both credited in the book:  Don’t Stop and This Is The Daybreak

Both have excellent Roses archives of old music press cuttings that saved long slogs at the British Newspaper Library. I already thanked Paul Stevens at Don’t Stop.

This Is The Daybreak’s own interviews, particularly those with with Cressa and Sophie Muller, were also useful for research. Finally I get to thank the man behind the site, Paul McAuley. He contacted Joel to say that This The Daybreak has secured 50 copies of This Is The One available to fans (on a first-come, first-served basis) at a subsidised price of £185 (this includes the cost of delivery).

If you email Paul at he will provide you with the reference code to use during your purchase through the publisher’s website.

We did use some Morris shots from Glasgow Green in War And Peace…  I also like these (although I’m not sure if the merchandise – XL T-shirts only! is Spike Island?).

all photos low res, copyright Dennis Morris

ON FILM unseen extracts (3)



In part this a tribute to Shane Meadows: written in hope that finally the band will be fittingly captured on film. I am not talking about the few (and explosive) TV appearances here (notably The Other Side Of Midnight/The Late Show/Top Of The Pops) but the Roses’ official video releases to date. Basically, and tragically for such a visually literate band, just one disaster after another: starting at Blackpool.

The Roses played the Blackpool Empress Ballroom on 12 August 1989: a Saturday and the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. The 4,000 capacity venue had sold out three weeks prior. It was a very special day – one where the Roses became truly an unstoppable force. Later, in 1991, Jive/Zomba would release a video of the gig. It was not filmed for such a purpose.

Indicative of the disorganisation surrounding the band [advance ads for the gig had stated Standing Here as a new July single but it had since been demoted to the B-side of the more She Bangs The Drums], the group had talked, in the press, of releasing a new single called, Any Time You Want Me [the track would become One Love and was initially inspired by the Evie Sands track, Any Way That You Want Me] in September 1989.  Acclaimed video director Geoff Wonfor, was tasked with making a video for the track at the Blackpool gig. At the time Wonfor was best-known for his work on TV programme The Tube, films such as The Beatles Anthology, Eurythmics Live and McCartney Live (and also as the director and numerous rock and pop videos). He was part of a high-power coupling: his wife, since 1974, Andea Wonfor (RIP) was then one of the most successful figures in British TV, as Tyne Tees Controller of Programmes she had launched Byker Grove and The Tube, and as Deputy Director of Programmes at Channel Four (from 1990) launched The Word, The Big Breakfast and Eurotrash.

“Chips Chipperfield (RIP) got me involved in filming at Blackpool,” said Wonfor. “Chip was from PMI, EMI’s video division.  I had negotiations with Gareth [Evans, Roses co-manager] and he said, ‘You’ve got a Mercedes and I’ve got a Mercedes, that shows how far we’ve come’, which I thought was a naff thing to say really. From one guy with a Mercedes to another – why have I got a Mercedes because I manage The Stone Roses, that’s why. I didn’t have much chat with him beforehand actually. They’d seen what I’d done and really wanted me to do it. I had no negotiations with Silvertone [Jive/Zomba’s ‘indie’ label front for the Roses] at all. The only negotiation was my fee and I think Chips Chipperfield did that for me. I walked into the job basically – not knowing a lot about them. But my God it didn’t take me long to find out.

“It was meant to be a video for just the one song and I said to the band [when he arrived at Blackpool], Well can I shoot you doing it in the soundcheck? They said we’re not doing it in the soundcheck. So I said so you want me to do it live? They said, no, we’re not doing it in the gig either… I said well what the hell do you want me to do then? They said, well now you’ve got a thing haven’t you? So they didn’t do it in the soundcheck and they didn’t do it live on stage. So I had to put a video together from close-ups of eyes and drumsticks and guitars and Ian’s hand waving in the air … so I had no sync for them at all…. And that was it; that was the Blackpool gig.

“I think we had four cameras on it, so we would have had a crew of 30, 35 there,” added Wonfor. “Before that, I’d done the Eurythmics in Australia and that was a 60 man crew, I did it on 35 mil. I’d done the likes of Spandau Ballet before that and [the] McCartney [live concert video] was an 84-man crew. I shot Blackpool in 16 mil. I didn’t feel it was a legendary gig at the time. It had a good vibe and what I did [shoot] had a really good vibe and all the cameramen were into it. I was just flabbergasted that they weren’t going to perform the song we were there to film – at the soundcheck or during the gig.

“It was never ever meant to be a concert film,” stressed Wonfor. “Somebody else actually used all my rushes and brought it out as whole gig. When it came out [as a full-length concert film in 1991] it didn’t get a good review in the NME and a lot of people didn’t like it. I couldn’t believe it [when I saw it]. They used all the trims from what I was doing for one song to do an entire gig from. At the gig I was getting my cameramen into it, they were filming other songs, to get them into it, to get them into what I needed. So around what I needed there were just bits and bobs which I was going to slow-mo … but they actually used it as a concert film. But I didn’t actually shoot it as that at all, ever; it supposedly done for one pop video. They then got somebody to put all the trims together for the gig video and credit me as directing the video, cheeky bastards. I had directed it – but I’d directed it for the video… not for a gig… and then I nearly crapped myself when I saw it. It is just bits thrown together.

The confusion Wonfor encountered at Blackpool could, typically, be traced back to the band’s manager Gareth Evans. “Gareth and I missed the Blackpool gig,” said his girlfriend Sue Dean. “Gareth’s car broke down and we got there for the last song… as they were doing Resurrection.  We missed the whole thing… maybe it was chaos because Gareth wasn’t there – the band went on earlier than they normally would.”

Wonfor put the footage together for a single that been released just prior to the Blackpool gig, She Bangs the Drums. Jive/Zomba also used the footage for subsequent videos to accompany the release of the Waterfall single [1992] and the unreleased Standing Here single.

The band’s next gig at Alexandra Palace, in November 1989, in London was also supposed to filmed as a live concert film. Again Evans was at the centre of much confusion. Steve Lock, the Granada producer who’d got the band their break on the Tony Wilson hosted The Other Side Of Midnight TV show, planned on filming the entire concert and on using the footage in a documentary he was making on the ‘Manchester scene’ for Granada TV [Celebration: Madchester – Sound of The North – released May 1990]. “We ended up negotiating with Gareth to film the band and he was demanding £70,000 as a fee,” said Lock. “In those days that was an enormous amount of money and actually most bands would have been happy to be filmed just for the exposure. The negotiations went on for months and months. Gareth had this funny little space in this serviced office complex in Knutsford, with a couple of secretaries and mailboxes; it wasn’t a proper office. I wasn’t even sure it was his office. Gareth continually wanted to up the money. But we came to some kind of agreement that we would film at the Alexandra Palace gig and we went down and filmed two or three tracks; that was the agreement. My over-riding memory of the gig was meeting Gareth afterwards where he had literally bin-liners full of cash that he was putting into the boot of his car from the merchandise he’d sold. Gareth just wanted cash. That’s what he was obsessed with; getting more money, more money.

“The Alexandra Palace footage should have been in the Madchester film but wasn’t,” added Lock. “We never ever reached full agreement with Gareth.”

The band’s next official video shoot was for the single Fools Gold. Again, Geoff Wonfor was hired. Returning from Japan at the end of October, with Fools Gold picking up pre-release radio play, the band flew to Lanzarote, one of the volcanic Canary Islands famed for it’s red mountains and submerged ‘Tunnel of Atlantis’, to shoot it. While there, they would also shoot a video for I Wanna Be Adored, which Jive/Zomba in New York planned to release as an American single.

“Blackpool was chaotic but not as chaotic as Lanzarote,” said Wonfor. “Our gear was impounded at customs, all the cameras, tripods everything, lenses. The upshot was we had one day to do two videos. Then when I asked the band when they wanted to do it, this is where I got a little bit uptight, they said they wanted to do it at night. I said, Which begs the fucking question why are we in fucking Lanzarote when I could have been in Twickenham studios with a bit of volcanic rock. Then they had the great idea of lighting the mountain behind, lighting the mountain behind, which is 10 miles away and I had a generator of about four foot square. They wanted it to look like it was shot on the moon.

“We eventually found this wonderful place to shoot it,” explained Wonfor, “and we’d just got into it when a cop came up on a motorbike and came across to us. I was really at the end of my absolute fucking tether. We didn’t have any time to do it and all of a sudden this cop was asking us to leave. I said to the cop, why do we have to leave, I’ve got a note here from the head of your country, state or whatever it is, that we can film here. He said, c’mon I could have a note from your Queen who says I can film in England but it doesn’t mean I can film in Buckingham Palace does it?  I said fucking Buckingham Palace? This place is fucking volcanic rock, that’s all it is, volcanic rock, it’s not Buckingham Palace. So the cop started to finger his gun. I said don’t even bother, because the only thing you can do at this moment in time is fucking kill me and right now that seems like a good option. So he says, Anyway who is this band? I said The Stone Roses. He said, they mean nothing, if it was The Beatles… I said, What do you know about The Beatles? He said, I know everything about the Beatles. I said, if you know everything about The Beatles you sing me I’m Down. He went, ‘Man buys ring, lady throws it away, same old thing happens every day, I’m down, I’m really down’. He was absolutely word perfect. So I thought, oh we’re getting somewhere here. And he just said, No, get out. You can’t film. So that was that. So I went to Ian and said things are a bit iffy and he said, yeah, I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to… I said no, no if we get our arses down, we’ll be able to do the videos – it just means we’ve got one day to do two videos. He said, no, no, not the filming, scuba-diving, when am I going to be able to go scuba-diving? So I said fucking scuba-diving! Everybody was off their box really, probably me included.”

Back in London, Wonfor edited the footage and showed it to the band. “They said, it’s not what we want,” said Wonfor. “I said what? What did you want? They said, we don’t know. I said oh fuck this, I’m out of here, so I left. I’d cut it all together the way I thought, left the suite. I’d booked the suite for another two hours out of my own money so if they wanted to change anything they could. I got back to Newcastle and the phone rings – where are you man, we love you. I said fucking love me? Are you joking? And they didn’t change a thing on it, not one shot on it. I still have flashbacks of the trauma… but overall I enjoyed it, I loved it, they had attitude, bags of it, and I love people with attitude. It was very much a gang thing and I was either going to break into the gang thing or walk away from it and for a time I did break into it. It was chaos but really beautiful chaos, rock n roll chaos, totally out there. I was at my height as well, I was hot to trot, and they were, and it was only when we got in the edit suite that they looked at it, looked at me as if I was a Martian, and said, no man it’s not what we wanted. If you looked at my videos that I’d done before that, I nearly invented the concept – not of slow motion – but of that style of filming; all them walking towards camera in slow motion; that was all mine. They said they wanted it to look like it was done on the moon and I think if you look at it, it looks pretty damn close really; as close as you can get without being on the moon. By God every fucker was on the moon and past it, do you know what I mean – we were all on Mars.”

The Fools Gold/I Wanna Be Adored videos show in Lanzarote compounded a growing unease about the Roses lack of interest in furthering their American career (having already turned down all invitations of gigs in the US and even promotional visits). “Although we certainly got the Fools Gold and I Wanna Be Adored videos played on MTV, those videos weren’t great videos for American music television,” said Michael Tedesco, the Roses A&R man in Jive/Zomba’s New York office. “They weren’t the videos that were getting played to death on MTV that were breaking other acts… the videos were a disappointment.”

Next came the Sally Cinnamon video; a catastrophe. It was a put together by FM Revolver to promote the re-release of the 1997 single the Roses had recorded for the label. Slung together, without the band’s involvement, from a couple of days filming around ‘Madchester’ shrines such as Afflecks Palace, the band Roses reacted aggressively to its release. They famously attacked the label’s Wolverhampton HQ (the boss, his wife, his cars and his accountant) with paint. The Roses spent the next nine months with a jail-threat hanging over their heads. It meant their liberty was at stake when the came to play Spike Island, their most famous gig to date. The fiasco of filming that is documented in War And Peace. Briefly Evans had arranged a £100,000 deal with Central TV to film the event. The compnay had set up an 8-camera shoot and outside broadcast vehicle on site. On the day of the gig the Roses refused to be filmed. Only the quick thinking of promoter Phil Jones resulted in footage existing of this seminal moment [it has been found]. A random kid had been hanging out with his little camera during the stage build, and when the Central TV deal collapsed, Jones told the kid he could film the show.

The official nadir was the video for the single One Love. The long awaited follow up to Fools Gold; a single planned to be released to coincide with Spike island, but for various reason, not out until July 1990. One of the delays concerned the problematic nature of the video shoot: like Fools Gold, a slow-mo affair with the band miming the song as if live – this time in front of a fire backdrop; the Roses going up in flames.

The band had wanted the video to be directed by The Bailey Brothers but the idea had been derailed by Tony Wilson’s objections to the Mondays’ famed video team working with Roses. “The Roses ended up doing the [One Love] video in Vector Television in Stockport [Heaton Mersey, a massive studio where they made ads and programmes, and where Take That’s first video was made in 1991],” says Keith Jobling of The Bailey Brothers. “The guy there didn’t have a clue what he was doing. They super-imposed on the fire back drop and it was amateur, awful, rubbish. On a technical level you play at the highest level you can afford.”

“For One Love we had about three ideas with them and we kind of got stuck on one to do it on the top of a building with a helicopter,” said Jobling. “And we were genuinely disappointed when Wilson came along and threw his toys out of his pram and said there’s fucking no way you’re doing it. He turned up once when they were there and typically he put this really brave smile on and was really nice to them. The Roses said, okay guys we’ll talk to you and we’ll get the label to get in touch and Wilson would be going no no you’re not fucking doing it. You can’t fucking do it. Well, why? He said, Think about it, it’s not right for the story. And we’d be like what story are you talking about? He’d be like the story about the war of the bands [between the Mondays and Roses]… and we’d be like of yeah I forgot – because there wasn’t one. Wilson was a genuine mate, we spent huge amounts of time with him. It would have been like a family feud if we’d turned round and said we’re doing it. We’d talk to him and say look there’s nothing wrong with it and it’s a really good song. He’d say give it to someone else I don’t want the Bailey Brothers touching it…

“I felt the Roses got a bit of a raw deal on the visual front,’ added Jobling. “They’re not really videos are they? Shaun [Ryder] can quote you whole films verbatim, every character. Shaun knows every film that’s ever been made. You can talk to Shaun about a film you think no-one else has every seen and Shaun’s got two copies of it. The Stone Roses were exactly the same. You’d talk about Zebriskie Point, or weird underground West coast Shit, The Trip, Vanishing Point, and they’d know everything… The Roses got some really shit advice… We ended up doing a lot of things with the Monday because they trusted us to do something that was valid for them, the other thing was they knew we weren’t trying to rip them off… the Roses didn’t have a label who were inventive enough or creative enough to work with them or do them justice visually.

“In some ways how we used to treat the Mondays [for video shoots] was like wild-life documentary makers,” laughed Jobling. “We used to get them to be as completely natural and try and get as far away from them as we could, and film them like they were like a pride of lions on the Serengeti, don’t disturb them just let them do their own thing, they never had a camera shoved in their face until late in the process… It was sympathetic to their character, we could have done something equally sympathetic with the Roses but the Roses never ended up finding anyone who could do that for them. John [Squire] was incredibly visual, literate guy. Ian was like Shaun, he had tons and tons of stuff that he’s got to play with… both bands had much more intelligence than you would have given them credit for from the outside.

“If I’d have been them and come to see us and said can you do us a video, and we’d said yeah we’re going to do it and then we said we can’t…” added Jpbling. They said oh don’t tell us because of Gareth [Evans]? We’d go like Wilson hates Gareth, get rid of Gareth and we’ll do a video. The Roses never said a bad thing, they never behaved badly… people kind of look at them and think, look at all that attitude they must be terrible to work with but they were genuinely just nice guys… same goes for the Mondays. If the Roses had found a visual guru to work with they could have done anything. They could have done animation…  the sound was very expansive it was like a big sound, and I think when you’re doing visuals, you have to do something that matches that sound…

“Part of the reason we never did anything was we were warned that you’ll never get paid, you’ll get fucked over, don’t trust him Gareth,” reflected Jobling. “I very rarely heard anybody say a good word about Gareth… if he’d had leprosy people would have been kinder about him.”

The Roses didn’t release another single for over four and a half years. By then Evans had been sacked; the Roses were managerless and rudderless. Brown and Reni didn’t want to do any photographs or videos for their comeback with the album Second Coming. Squire would use various clips from the footage he’d taken on his Super 8 camera over the years to make a video for lead single, Love Spreads (released late November 1994). It featured Brown, Squire and Mani in death, chicken and devil costumes. It was easily the band’s best video to date – but another disaster as it was deemed so low-fi as unfit for purpose by their new label Geffen (who had been waiting almost four years for this moment).

In LA the Roses re-shot the video for Love Spreads with director by Steve Hanft who’d directed the video for Loser, the breakthrough US Top 10 single for the Roses’ Geffen label mate Beck. True, you could see the band more clearly in this version, but the original video had been far superior. The band performed live in front of oil wells pumpjacks, Brown looking healthy and handsome in a deer stalker and Squire throwing guitar shapes in a fetching tanks top.  Mani and Reni seemed less enthusiastic. The as if live studio playing was intercut with a bizarre bar room scene that featured Reni laying asleep on top of the bar.  Beck (who struck up a rapport with Squire) had a small cameo and Squire memorable was shown playing his guitar riding on a donkey.

In March 1995, a second single from the album was released; Ten Storey Love Song. The video was shot by English director Sophie Muller best known for her work with The Eurythmics, Sade, Shakespeare’s Sister and Annie Lennox. Remarkably, drummer Reni did not even bother to show for the video shoot, and was instead represented by a Pennie Smith photo of his head blown-up and stuck on a stick. Brown also missed the first day of the two days shoot.

Miller, who had recently, made videos for Weezer, Hole [both on Geffen] and Jesus and the Mary Chain had discussed the video storyline in New York with band. Geffen handed her huge budget. The shoot was planned to take place in London. Muller hired a huge crew and did a big set build. On the first day, just Squire and Mani showed. “I think what happened was that it was Ian’s son’s birthday,” she said. “And he wanted to go to the birthday party and he was still up north. And I remember saying to them, does he realise that there’s sixty people just sitting waiting? It was one of those weird, kind of surreal things. He phoned and said he’d be down later, and I was like, down later ? This is a film-shoot! The record company were freaking out. Ian turned up right at the end of the day and said, let’s get on with it. I showed him the script and he said, oh I don’t want to do any of this. I was like, what do you mean you don’t want to do it, that’s the script, haven’t you seen it before? And he went, no! I just thought it was hilarious, there was this huge video and two of the band didn’t turn up and then when one of them did turn up, he didn’t want to do the idea because he hadn’t read the treatment!”

Finally, in November 1995 – with Reni now departed and replaced by new drummer Robbie Maddix and a much-anticipated UK tour starting at the end of the month – Begging You was released as single. Always adverse to remix work, this was the first Roses single that featured only that, the original track plus six remixes for various formats. “I got asked to do Begging You,” says Maddix. “So we’re in Monmouth, we’re bored. The record company asked if they could do mixes. So straight away Ian, said Robbie you’ve got to do a mix. I did have a feeling – I don’t think John would like me to. I did it and it was funky as hell. But I wanted John to put guitar on it, just to have fun with it. Mani heard it, said wicked, kind of like Fools Gold, same kind of thing, funky drummer kind of thing. John came in and he didn’t like it. They weren’t used to doing remixes. When John came in, he didn’t say it was good or bad, he just made a face. I thought, I don’t want to do something you don’t like but to be honest that’s what happens with a remix. He didn’t really get what the process of doing a remix was for. I think he thought I was doing what I think the Roses should sound like. I think he was bit put out.”

The single peaked at No 15 in the UK charts. The band barely bothered to promote it. The video intercut live footage from the European leg of 1995 tour with four kinky booted, bikini clad female dancer gyrating, each wearing a mask of one of the band members, plus indigenous dancing from around the world. It was actually pretty funny.

Now over 16 years later, Shane Meadows has a chance to finally get the best out of the Roses on film. It will not be easy.

T-SHIRTS unseen extracts (2)

Again, unedited version.


BOOM: 23 November 1989. The Roses and the Mondays together on Top Of The Pops. The Roses with Fools Gold and, following the success of the Paul Oakenfold/Vince Clarke remixes of Wrote For Luck, the Mondays with Hallelujah, the lead track from their new EP, Madchester (produced by Martin Hannett). It was a watershed moment for both bands and the tipping point for a city bursting with musical vision and entrepreneurial panache.

While the Roses had the everlasting jewel of Spike Island; during the media blitz focused on the city in 1990 and 1991, they were the band who appeared to capitalize least – not just musically (releasing just one single in those two years, One Love) but also commercially. In the Madchester boom years (Dave Haslam, for his book Manchester, England, counted that the NME ran 15 Manchester-related cover stories in 1990) the success stories were to be found elsewhere.

It was a gold rush, and, fittingly for a city with such a rich history in the textile trade, many of those who made their fortune were in the rag trade – as Madchester quickly became as much about the look as the music. For many, the cloth was mightier than the chord. T-shirts sales were a massive money-spinner.

The boom hinged on a word: Madchester; a catchall phrase, similar to the Swinging Sixties, that perfectly described this golden age of Mancunian cultural world dominance. Nowadays that sort of branding would cost many thousands and require a team of top consultants. In 1989, highlighting the high-wire nature of the whole period, the word came to be as the result of a mistaken keyboard stroke. It was Keith Jobling, one half of The Bailey Brothers, best known at that point for making videos for the Happy Mondays (now behind the city’s multi-million pound Sharp Project, who made that stroke.

“My partner in the Bailey Brothers was a guy called Phil Shotton,” said Jobling. “And we were writing a music driven film script called the Mad Fuckers [later, in a radical different format, the basis for the film, Shopping, in 1994], about car thieves. We had a conversation with someone who said, you’re going to have to be a bit careful because in the script you keep referring to Manchester and your problem will be if someone recognises themselves in the script. They suggested setting the film somewhere fictional. I remember spelling the word Manchester wrong and looking at it, and thinking, fucking hell that’s actually pretty good: the word Mad and chester, just swapping the N for the D, and because the film was called Mad Fuckers, actually Madchester, Mad Fuckers, yeah… yeah.

“It was around as a word for about a month, six weeks or something, and we gave a version of the script to [Tony] Wilson and he just went ballistic,” added Jobling. “He made Shaun [Ryder] put it on the Madchester EP [that originally was going to be called Rave On]. Shaun wasn’t very happy about it. Wilson basically just stole our word and ran off with it and used it as a marketing tool. It ended up being on the front of Newsweek and becoming part of culture. T-shirts were becoming this big thing and we [The Bailey Brothers] thought, oh we’ll make a few quid out of T-shirts. We did two: ‘Madchester’ and ‘Just Say No To London’. We didn’t make a penny but the word took off.

“The word was an accidental stumble but it did sum up an atmosphere,” said Jobling. “You used to walk around Manchester and it stunk of draw everywhere you went, absolutely seeped in marijuana. In the Northern Quarter you’d go into some record shop and it just stank of skunk. It was like a lawless period, very hedonistic, it did go a bit mad. It was funny and it was genuinely exciting. For 18 months, two years, it did feel like the Summer Of Love. When we did the video for Wrote For Luck I think we had three or four murderers in the video, but they were on E so it wasn’t a problem – they were kissing and cuddling you as they came in. It was very vivid, intense period of weird stuff happening – the genie was out of the lamp.”

“When then they did the joint Top Of The Pops, their crew was with our crew in the Dry bar [the then newly opened, Factory-owned, bar on Oldham Street – still there] watching it together,” recalled Anthony Donnelly, who with his brother Chris was heavily associated with the Happy Mondays T-shirt operation. “The Hacienda had brought us all together. We were all intrinsically linked.”

“On Top Of The Pops, the Mondays looked like they’d been out and been shopping and bought Lacoste sweatshirts and stuff,” said Chris Donnelly. “From a commercial point of view it was easier to pinpoint the Roses ‘look’ and say that’s acid house. The Mondays look was more laddy. For a fan base, it was easier to replicate the Roses look.”

The Donnelly brothers, having been supremely clothes conscious since their days on the terraces (Manchester United), were now moving into fashion. They had played a crucial part in making the Mondays’ hometown show at the Free Trade Hall [on the same night as the Roses played their Alexandra Palace gig – five days before Top Of The Pops] such a memorable night. The brothers had also organised Manchester’s first illegal rave, the legendary Sweat It Out in October 1988. They were also T-shirt bootleggers. “We were the people who did a Michael Jackson face in green and we got the print wrong, so we could only sell the T-shirts at night,” laughed Anthony.

“We did bootleg other bands but it was an official bootleg we got asked to do for Factory Records for the Happy Mondays’ Free Trade Hall,” said Chris.  “If someone is getting bootlegged the best thing to do is do the bootlegging yourself. Then you’re selling T-shirts outside, you’re getting money back from that – but you’re also getting money from the official merchandise on the inside.

“The bootlegging, with permission of the Mondays, led to us going into clothing with [their own label] Gio-Goi,” added Chris. “There were companies out there cashing in on the commerciality of our scene which gave us the hump, so that was a factor in us deciding, you know what, it’s not about bucket hats and Kickers and Wallabees; it’s a real scene for the people who know – and that was a catalyst for us to start the brand, to right a wrong.”

The Roses, via their tour manager – Steve Adge, had asked the Donnelly brothers to take control of the merchandise for Spike Island. “Steve had been coming to see us and we got an official approach to say, right Gareth [Evans, Roses manager] wants to meet you and wants to discuss you doing the merchandise for Spike Island,” said Anthony. ”We get Securicor to come to the office because we’d got delusions of grandeur and we said, right we want De La Rue machines. What for? We’re doing this gig and it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of pounds on merchandise. We were putting a plan in place.

“So then the meeting is set up between me, Chris, and Gareth in Knutsford. We go to the meeting as planned, but apparently this Gareth is a bit weird. We drive out there, and what can only be described as Benny Hill chase ensued, with us and Gareth. We’re only there to do the merchandise and this geezer won’t even speak to us. Spike Island is upon us and we’ve got to get it ready. Maybe we’ve bought something, maybe we haven’t, maybe we just want to do it – but we’re firm friends with the lads [Roses] now and we want the money. Like everybody else, finally it’s landed and there’s a fortune out there.

“So we end up chasing Gareth, throwing soap at him in Boots [the chemist],” added Anthony. “Boots had got a door from this street to that street and we’re chasing him through Boots over the merchandising. It was Tim Mulryan who put us together with Gareth. He was the manager of Steve Coogan; Tim was another one of our happy ecstasy friends who’d drop in. Then it gets a bit nearer the gig, and it’s not happening. Tim’s fuming. Gareth’s gone really weird. In the end, at Spike Island, we just went to watch the gig. We would have made a good job of it [the merchandising] – we were notorious at the time, yes, but our integrity was never in question. If we said we were going to do something we would deliver.”

Evans kept control of the Spike Island merchandising, using New Line Promotions to make the T-shirts. It was estimated close to 30,000 were sold at Spike Island, plus thousands of ‘Reni hats’. Even though the hats and the Roses ‘lemon’ T-shirt became chief signifiers of the era, how much money the band made from such items was negligible.

Financially, the main beneficiary of the Madchester fashion boom was local brand Joe Bloggs. The Happy Mondays, New Order, Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans all appeared in a number of music press articles, and on TV, sporting Bloggs – and for many it appeared Bloggs had invented what became known as the ‘baggy’ look.

Started in 1985, the company was born out of a small family-run concern. The Ahmeds had traded on market stalls in the 1960s and 1970s and progressed to owning four retail stores in Burnley. A younger generation had moved into the family business, notably siblings Shami and Bushra, with fresh ideas and ambitions. Shami came up with the name Joe Bloggs and moved the company away from retail into wholesale, with an operation run from Bury New Road on the Strangeways/Ancoats border of town.

Bloggs first hit the headlines in 1986 after launching a 25-inch flared jean. Their 1986, 21-inch, wide-legged flares would feature in the 1996 V&A Street Style exhibition, tagged as ‘cheeky, baggy and androgynous; a key part of the Madchester raver outfit of 1987-1988’.

In 1987, Bloggs became the first British label to enter the UK’s top ten revenue earners in terms of denim jeans.  Ever-inventive, Shami had got a pair of 45-inch flares in the Guinness book of world records as the ‘widest jeans in the world’ – and two new styles; the ‘ventilation’ jean (heavily cut and slashed denim) and the one size fits all ‘baggy’ jean, were both massive hits.

Bloggs also specialised in heavily-logo’d sweatshirts, hooded tops and T-shirts – every punter a walking billboard. The Roses did more to popularise the ‘baggy’ look than any other band, but uniquely among the Manchester groups were never seen in Bloggs. The Mondays didn’t much care for Bloggs either, and had been led to the label by Tony Wilson for a segment in a Madchester documentary that Granada producer Steve Lock was putting together. Bloggs told the Mondays to help themselves, and their whole crew turned up and walked out with a vanful of the clobber.

“I never got the Bloggs things,” said Keith Jobling. “I wouldn’t say the Mondays were obsessed about how they looked, but they definitely cared. They got the fact that they had to have a look for it to make sense. We wore a lot of stuff like CP and Stone Island, it was all Italian street stuff. Bez would have a Stone Island jumper on and it would be ripped from a fight, but he’d still wear it. Shaun’s always been almost like a rap star. He’s always had this thing about, ‘this coat’s worth £2,000’. I’d ask, did you pay that? He’d say, no, no I paid £100 for it but it was in the shop for £2,000 and I gave him £100; I’ll give him the rest later.”

“The Mondays agreed to do the shoot for Joe Bloggs and when they watched that [Granada documentary – Celebration: Madchester – Sound of the North, 1990] they went mental, not happy,” said Anthony Donnelly. “Bloggs had cleverly said, let’s get the Mondays in and get them in all the Madchester gear to endorse our product: power to them. If we were as switched on, business-wise, as they were, watching loads of kids create something, and we had the power to rinse it… I’m not saying we would do it, but if they made a million pounds from it, give us our corner.

“It’s like Leo [Stanley at the Identity shop, based in Afflecks Palace, and famed for the AND ON THE SIXTH DAY GOD CREATED MANchester T-shirts and other variations of],” added Anthony. “Leo’s our best pal but we can all do that can’t we? We could all go out today and do our Amy Winehouse T-shirts [I interviewed the Donnelly brothers for War and Peace the day after Winehouse’s death]. The thing we wanted to hold on to, and why we think the crown belongs to us, is we were really doing it, we were involved in it – we were orchestrating it. All the things that were going on – we were there. It was easy to ride it. We were the scene – Joe Bloggs was ripping off the scene.”

Gio-Goi made their first T-shirts in collaboration with the Happy Monday’s famed record sleeve designers, Central Station [who suggested to the Donnelly brothers they call the brand Shit Clothes]. Central Station’s T-shirts for the Mondays were in a different class to the rest – graphically – and the early Gio-Goi T-shirts (alongside the Mondays T-shirts) are the true classics of this period.

Peter Hook appeared on the front cover of the NME in one of the first Gio-Goi T-shirts. The Donnelly brothers then hooked up with designer Jonathon O’Garr, who dressed Adamski, as seen in the Killer video [the track was recorded in 1989 but a massive acid house No 1 crossover hit in early 1990], and developed a full range of Gio-Goi clothing that garnered an immediate reaction.

“We didn’t do seasons,” said Chris. “We’d just made stuff constantly, brought it in and put it on the floor. The shops loved us because they could come down and as fast as they could buy it, they were selling it, and they’d be down the next day for more gear.”

“This went on for three years,” said Anthony. “There was buckets of money and we were off our nut. I remember Leo [Stanley] came in to the office and was picking loads and loads of gear. We were all sat smoking pot and he had to write out his own order form because none of us knew how to fill it in. Looking back now, we went through that whole Madchester period and never recognised what we had. The whole world was looking at us and we just thought we were going on a night out.  We had all this thing going on around us, which was us, but we were totally oblivious.”

Bushra Ahmed (who along with her brother, Shami, ran Joe Bloggs) said her company enjoyed a “friendly rivalry” with Gio-Goi. In a deeply fashion conscious city, there remains a lively debate over where Bloggs fits into the history of the Madchester look.

“We started that whole look off for the bands,” said Bushra (who now presides over the hugely successful, multi-brand Juice Corporation ).  “The bands weren’t wearing all these big baggy sweatshirts and tops and jeans until Bloggs. Shami was PR driven. It was all about ideas and the better the idea, the better the sales. We brought back the widest jeans in the world purposefully. It was just another take on a normal 1970s flare but we wanted to make it a bigger story. With the baggy jeans we worked with designers and manufacturers and just came up with a new look of a jean. The bands and the celebrities latched on to us because the brand was becoming so popular.

“We were dressing all of the new bands that were coming up [in Manchester] free of charge in our product,” Bushra added. “A lot of these bands were off the street, they had no money, so free of charge sounds good – and they took as much as they wanted. Joe Bloggs was so new and they were the first ones wearing it, so that made them feel a bit special. For us, when you’ve got New Order in it, the credibility boost was just enormous. It was great PR – and then when the bands got more popular, the public went mad. The Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets were massive for us.”

As for the inspiration behind the Bloggs ‘baggy’ jean, Bushra is typically plain speaking. “In the 1970s the skinheads were wearing parallels,” she said. “We adapted it. We brought out a wider one. All our ideas were coming in from the 1960s and 1970s, and all we were doing was updating those looks to fit the 1980s and 1990s. We were looking for new ideas all the time and Shami was a PR machine, coming out with all these ideas every five minutes. He was thinking 24 hours a day what stunt he could pull next.”

I got to ask Shami one question for War and Peace: Did he take inspiration from the fashion scene emerging at the Hacienda, or taken note of the fashion brave buying up flares and semi-flares from Phil Saxe’s market stall in 1983/84? “No,” Shami said. “It was a fashion idea that worked and we sold a lot.”

“The Hacienda wasn’t Shami’s scene and the brand was never targeted at the Hacienda,” said Bushra. “Joe Bloggs was never targeted at the indie crowd. It just happened that the indie market latched onto the brand. We were lucky with it. It was the right time for us; people were a bit bored and something needed to happen and it happened.”

The Bloggs wholesale operation, on Bury New Road, became something of a Mecca. It was trade only, but on Sunday the company would open the doors to punters with the caveat that they had to spend a minimum of £75. There were “queues around the block”, said Bushra. “We used to have security on the door; it was just like a club, one in, one out.”

Although indelibly tied to Madchester and the rave scene, and proud of the fact, as Bloggs exploded nationwide in 1989/90/91, any cult appeal they may have had quickly became diluted – and the brand themselves suffered from copycat manufacturers.

“It got the point where the market was saturated,” said Bushra. “It was flooded. The counterfeits spoilt quite a lot for us. We had so many fakes going around – you could buy a fake for half the price. The quality was terrible but if you’re a fan of the brand and you want to wear it because you’re favourite band is wearing it, and you can’t afford full price, you buy a fake.”

Bushra and Shami moved on – coming up with newer, more bling ideas, such as inventing the world’s most expensive jeans; a $200,000 diamond encrusted pair. They targeted a new market, dressing superstars like Prince, cricketer Brian Lara and boxer Prince Naseem. “At one point Take That had it on,” said Bushra. “Peter Andre in the Mysterious Girl video – so it was completely on the other side of the musical spectrum. We targeted sports a lot more; football and boxing. It wasn’t about the raving and the big baggy pants anymore.”

Nonetheless, Bloggs did much for the local economy in the Madchester boom years – with all their denim proudly manufactured in the area. At one point it was estimated the company was worth £60 million.

Another winner in the Madchester gold rush was the Inspiral Carpets, a band who seemed to embrace the Bloggs brand. Managed by Anthony Boggiano, who had worked for the Roses manager Evans at The International in the mid-1980s; it was a popular rumour that the Inspiral Carpet’s T-shirts (most famously their ‘Cool As Fuck” one) outsold their records.

“As far as the Roses were concerned, the Bloggs people were following them,” said Boggiano. “For the Inspirals, Joe Bloggs was just free clothes.  At that stage they were earning fuck all money, no income, and when someone says right come and choose the clothes you want… the Mondays were doing the same thing as well. Bloggs got a good plug out of it. The Inspirals went on Top Of The Pops a few times wearing the gear.

“It was bullshit, though, that the Inspirals’ T-shirts outsold their records,” Boggiano laughed. “They did sell a lot of T-shirts and it was a good source of revenue but they didn’t sell as many T-shirts as records. It used to really annoy the band that people thought that – but we started the rumour, bragging about T-shirt sales.”

I never wore Bloggs. My Madchester fashion guide was a handsome Sheffield ‘Blade’. My first pair of huge parallels (with a slight flare) bought in that city: probably Bloggs copies. In the mid-90s, I enjoyed a brief moment in the fashion sun myself – alongside the infamous stylist, Barnzley, at the world-renowned shop: Acupuncture, Soho.

When I moved to Manchester in 1998, I was led to the door of the then last Madchester fashion man standing – Steve Caton, owner of the ultra-hip independent clothes shop, Geese. The shop had supplied the city with clothes and labels that were both individual and high-class during the boom years – a real hipster outlet, far removed from the Bloggs phenomenon. I still treasure a couple of items I bought from Geese in the late 1990s: an Adriano Goldschmied shirt and a Generic Costume jacket. Although now sadly defunct, Caton’s right-hand man at Geese is still around; running the city’s impressive Ran shop.

Finally, majestically, Gio-Goi, re-launched themselves in 2005 – and set off on another hot-streak that continues to this day: the label being sported by Ronnie O’Sullivan, Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse (RIP), Plan B, Rihanna, Arctic Monkeys, Mike Skinner and Kasabian, among a host of influential luminaries. It was proof, if anymore was needed, that, yes, the crown did belong to Gio &

The Donnelly brothers are true legends; kings, but I’m sticking with my prince charming, Barnzley. It was love at first sight. He put the smiley face in acid house, and had a huge influence on the Japanese street fashion giants of the 90s, Hiroshi and Nigo. He now co-owns A Child of the Jago: a brand and shop founded in 2007, in partnership with Joseph Corre (famed for his Agent Provocateur label and shops). His new shop is Thunders.

FLARES unseen extracts (1)

A first selection of transcripts from the 100+ interviews I conducted for War And Peace will be available next week at

The US edition of War And Peace is available for pre-order in hardback or kindle (released April 2, 2013)

The UK paperback edition will be released in June 2013.

Q magazine asked me for my verdict on the Roses dates this summer.

I planned to write six unseen extracts utilising the vast swathes of material cut from the finished edit of War And Peace. I managed three. Gareth Evans, America &  Scooterboys are still unwritten.

Here is the first of the three extracts I did get finished, unedited.


I adopted the classic Roses ‘look’ after witnessing their Blackpool Empress Ballroom show in 1989 – and it was that look, more than anything, that had allowed me to kick-start my career at the NME, i-D and The Face (yes, the media back then was that fickle). So I was enthusiastic to find out the origins of the look for War and Peace, particularly the band’s famous flared trousers which became such a media talking point and key signifier for the Roses during their golden period.

It was some of my favourite material in the book. I really loved the attention to detail. But, to keep the narrative pace, I had to trim it to within an inch of its life. Here is some of the richer detail we had to leave out.


It is late 1983. The Roses have just formed and their image is still, at best, ill defined. Each member looks like they belong to a different band from a different era. Vest tops, roll necks, paisley shirts, leather waistcoats, cardigans, suede jackets, berets, ruffle shirts, bandanas…  and tight-legged trousers.

Meanwhile, on a market stall in the centre of Manchester, former Twisted Wheel DJ, Phil Saxe, is back in town. He had been away in Hull, working as a marketing manager for the toy division of model kit and paint manufacturer Humbrol, but is now in business with his brother – starting a fashion revolution.

“We were selling jeans and clothes on a market stall in the Arndale, not the underground market as is sometimes claimed,” Saxe said. “It was my brother’s business and it was called Gangway. We used to sell stuff to the scally sort of element. One day three girls came in; they were probably 15 or 16 year olds and they used to have what we called palm tree haircuts – hair bunched up on the top of their head with an elastic band round it. They asked do you ever get any flares in? I said why? Why flares? They said, oh we can’t afford stretch jeans and these very tight ice-blue jeans that people were wearing influenced by Liverpool. They said, we’re all on the dole and we can’t afford this high fashion stuff, so we thought if anybody had any flares we’d wear flares. So I go to this warehouse; there were some guys in town we used to call the Iranians who used to buy these huge packages of dead stock from firms like Levi’s, like £100,000 of stuff, without knowing what it was. Market traders and people with shops would go in to their warehouse and sort out what they wanted. So I went in and found some flared cords. I bought about four pairs. The girls came in the next day, tried them on and all bought a pair each. I thought wow that’s a bit different.

“Then people started to coming to the stall, a couple more girls, the odd boy, asking have you got any more flares?” recalled Saxe. “What you have to remember is when a style goes out of fashion the first people to stop wearing it are 26, 28 and 30-inch waist, the youngsters. So all the stock that’s left is exactly the right size for when it comes back into fashion again with the youngsters; all old stock tends to be small sizes. I remember my brother going to a warehouse in Middleton and buying 1,000 pairs of 28-inch waist flared jeans, Levi’s – 18, 20 and 25-inch bottom flares, at £1 each. Within two months we were selling thousands of them. We were the only people in Britain selling them. This was late 1983, though 1984. Macca, who ended up managing [Madchester era band] Northside, started working for us. We then went to a double market stall, then the whole ground floor of Kendals. I would drive around the country and go to Army & Navy stores and buy up their old stock; they couldn’t give it away. Then we found out that Wrangler had loads and loads of old stock of 18-inch cords, and they were called semi-flares – even though they were just parallels, just 18-inch cords really – and that became the width. In fact very quickly the extremes, the 25-inch bottoms became very passé. I think part of that was that Manchester City fans tended to wear the very wide 25-inch. At that time you could always tell Manchester City and Manchester Utd fans anywhere in the country. City fans wore 25-inch and Utd fans wore 18 or 20-inch semi-flares; thought they were a little bit smarter.

“In those very early days there was only me and our kid doing it,” added Saxe.  “The only other place at that time that did something a little bit similar was a guy called Chinese Jimmy. He used to be based on Oldham Street. Then all these firms starting thinking, wait a minute something’s going on and that buggered it up because, instead of buying something for £1, £2 or £4, we had to pay the full price. So we were paying £10 and had to sell the buggers for £20 and £25 – and everybody could get hold of them. That sort of ruined the differentiation of our business.  Then I left and started managing the Mondays.”

“The Mondays were probably customers in that first week at the stall, that’s how I met them,” said Saxe. “They were the first group of boys to come in looking for flares. They also had paisley shirts on, flowery shirts, looked different to everyone else; little beards, all that sort of stuff. Shaun and Paul and Knobhead out of the band and a few of their mates were the first ones.”

With Saxe as manager, the Mondays started on their upward ascent, signing to Factory Records (where Saxe would eventually take the role of Head of A&R).

The Roses, at the time, had an antagonistic approach toward the Factory scene that dominated Manchester. An early song, Fall, was an attack on label boss Tony Wilson. The situation was further aggravated when former Hacienda manager and Factory director, Howard Jones, and Joy Division/New Order producer (among many others) Martin Hannett, the key musical force behind Factory, left the label to respectively manage and produce the Roses. In fact Wilson deliberately scheduled the release of the first Mondays record, in August 1985; an EP called Forty Five, to coincide with the release of the first Roses record, So Young (released on Hannett and Jones’ new label Thin Line, or ‘Renegade Records’ as Wilson dubbed it). Wilson would spend the next few five years attempting to promote a war of the bands – between the Roses and the Mondays – that only existed in his head.

There were many shared links between the two bands. Ian Brown called the Mondays the ‘best band in Manchester’, and the Roses took many musical cues from the band Factory were promoting as the ‘Happy Hooligans’. Stephen ‘Cressa’ Cresser was the main bridge between the two groups. Saxe thought he was Reni’s brother. Cressa had known Squire and Brown from the early 1980s Scooterboy scene – he didn’t have a scooter but would often hop on the back of someone else’s. He hung out with both the Mondays and Roses at rehearsals (for a while both bands rehearsed at the same place, the legendary Spirit studios). As the Roses were only playing sporadic gigs in this period, Cressa became a roadie for the more active Mondays.

It was Cressa who had introduced the Roses to the Love album Forever Changes and he was a rich source of knowledge on 60s psychedelic punk rock. In fact his influence on John Squire’s musical tastes was substantial. Cressa listed The Electric Prunes, Chocolate Watch Band, Nazz, Creation, the Nuggets albums, plus contemporary American Paisley Underground bands such as Rain Parade, Green On Red, The Three O’Clock, Plan 9, and Husker Du as key listening. Of the then current British music scene he and Squire shared a passion for The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Howard Jones, the Roses manager, recalled Cressa spending a lot of time at his flat digging through his record collection. “He’d be listening to Steve Miller and The Byrds and a lot of that stuff started to influence Johnny [Squire]. They wore out my copy of Forever Changes.” There were other tunes and albums that got repeated plays at Jones’s flat such as Songs For Our Ancestors from the Steve Miller album Sailor and the 1972 Todd Rundgren album Something/Anything. Jones himself was obsessed with the Geffen record label home to his favourite artiste David Blue, “the guy Dylan wrote It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue about”. The Roses would go on to sign to Geffen in 1991. “I thought David Geffen was a genius,” said Jones. Squire, he said, had paid particular attention to this fascination.

The Hacienda was Cressa’s home from home where he formed part of small clique that included DJ ‘Little Martin’ Pendergast and Al Smith. Smith would become a key part of the Roses crew and Little Martin was another cultural influence. They were regular faces at No Funk, a popular Tuesday night at The Hacienda with DJ John Tracy playing ‘alternative’ current music mixed with 60s sounds such as Break On Through by The Doors, The Chocolate Watch Band and The Seeds.

Little Martin was also a DJ at the Hacienda. He shared a Friday night called Nude with DJ Mike Pickering, who recalled Nude as being ‘Manchester’s first scally night’. Little Martin was a regular at dance import specialist shop, Spin Inn, and popular Nude tracks included American electro and disco cuts such Change of Heart by Change, Just Be Good To Me by The SOS Band, and Touch Me (All Night Long) by Wish featuring Fonda Rae.

In August 1985 Little Martin was also hosting a ‘The Summer Of Love’ night at The Hacienda. ‘Kaftans not compulsory’ read the flyer. Cressa, Little Martin and Smith did however subscribe to another key 1960s fashion: flared jeans.

“Big ridiculous flares,” said the Roses original bassist (1983-1987) Peter Garner. “It turned everybody’s heads because nobody wore flares and Cressa looked good in them.” Cressa would later recall: “People seemed to think that flares were funny back then but for us they were a philosophy.”

“Cressa represented the 25-inch bottom flares,” said Saxe. “All the Mondays wore flares before Cressa. He would have got the idea off them.”

Of all the Roses, Squire paid most attention to the style developments of Cressa’s crowd – and the Mondays. “In 1985 we opened a little shop called Somewear in Manchester, also in the Arndale,” said Saxe. “That’s where John Squire came in and bought baggies off us. They were sort of baggy jeans, they became the next big thing. They were 16-inch bottoms but a bit baggy on the leg. The opposite of flares I suppose and the Mondays led the way with that as well. We didn’t sell the flares at Somewear in Manchester. By 1985 it had gone.”

Cressa, Al Smith and Little Martin, uniquely, stuck with them. In 1987, after the Roses had unceremoniously abandoned him in favour of Gareth Evans, their former band manager Howard Jones followed through on his initial thought that Cressa, Al Smith and Little Martin would look good as a band. Now he championed them as a cultural phenomenon, a youth movement, dubbed (tongue-in-cheek) ‘The Baldricks’, first mentioned in the press by i-D magazine in October 1987.

Jones next landed The Baldricks a double page feature in i-D in April 1988. In it, they were described as a “surreal youth cult roaming the Hacienda”. The three main leaders were pictured wearing flares and big outdoor jackets, and were said to be defined by “a love of 60s psychedelia and acid that had instinctively drawn them to house music”; their lineage drawn from Perry Boys, Casuals and Scallies. They said they had initiated the return of the flared trouser in 1984 [“or 1983 if you lived in Oldham and Salford”]. Shaun Ryder was interviewed for the piece. “It’s just a way of life,” he said. Cressa, in Reebok trainers, was said to own a pair of purple flares the envy of the Hacienda.

“The Baldricks started as a piss-take on a few of us at the Hacienda,” recalled Cressa. “So we replied to the piss-take by keeping a straight face and sending some photos into  i-D.”

“Some of the [Inspiral] Carpets had also started wearing the baggy ones, not the flared ones, so suddenly there was this thing,” said Howard Jones. “I knew the editor of i-D so I rang him up and said hey there’s this new style sweeping Manchester. We got the bands together to do this massive photograph taken by Kevin Cummins. New Order were there, the Roses … it would have been the most amazing photograph, everything that happened in Manchester in the next five years was there. We’d taken the photograph and Kevin Cummins and I went to the match, Man City, and he lost the fucking camera. So he lost the photographs… it was the Beatles cover, with everybody on it, it was that almost; we got Hooky to bring his Jag down, Bernard had got his Mercedes, we got the scooters from the guys out of Laugh – it was a really interesting set-up. But the whole thing was a scam. There was no scene. It was just us lot.”

In the end the i-D photographs of The Baldricks were taken by another photographer based in Manchester, Ian Tilton, who was also chronicling, during this period, the Roses’ development – climaxing in the shots that graced the band’s debut album cover. Of The Baldricks, Tilton said: “It was cheeky Mancunians getting one over on the London press and having laugh in the process.”

The Roses were not wearing flares, or voluminous parallels – still straight-legged – on the album cover, as they had been when they began touring more consistently in late 1988. With regular gigs also planned for the following year, they offered Cressa, and Al Smith, positions on their already infamously formidable touring crew. Cressa jumped ships, leaving the Mondays and making his debut with the Roses at St Helens Citadel in November 1988. He was nominally changing patches on John’s guitar effects, but his impact was more visual.

“Cressa being there changed the dynamic,” said the band’s long-time chief roadie, Slim.  “Cressa was the funky dancer behind John [who was largely static live], so it added more on that side of the stage. At first I wasn’t quite sure but the guy that Cressa is… he had a big influence with the music and styling.”

In early June 1989 the Roses appeared on their first weekly music paper front cover in Melody Maker. It was in this interview, for the first time, that flared trousers became a major topic for discussion in relation to the Roses. Brown, encouraged by Cressa, was now sporting a pair.

Squire spoke up in favour of parallels and was quoted as saying: “I think I’ve got divine knowledge and complete ignorance of everything. Except about clothes.”

For Brown it was 24-inchers “for that slight swish”. “They’re probably just as important as England falling, actually, flares,” quipped Brown, who in the interview had talked of killing Prince Charles. Flares, and the downfall of the monarchy, would become recurrent themes in the Roses’ media briefs from this point on. Squire would point out: “It’s only Ian who wears flares. The rest of us just wear parallels. Ian’s just got his idea that if you walk down the street without being laughed at then you must be doing something wrong.”

“They swing when you walk so it’s perpetual motion,” Brown would observe. “It’s important for your state of mind. It’s also important that they come right down to the bottom of the floor so your shoes are obscured. I get laughed at more than stared at. It doesn’t bother me. I’d rather be laughed at than not, every time. It’s weird how something really simple can make you feel special.”

At the Roses epochal Empress Ballroom gig in Blackpool, in August 1989, Brown wore 1972 green Wrangler cords, 21-inch.

It was ironic that despite being the last of the famous three Madchester bands to adopt flares and voluminous jeans, the Roses became the ones most associated with the look that thousands aped, in a fashion craze that became as easily identifiable as the punk look. The pioneering Mondays went smart casual, the Inspirals too far in a tie-up with Joe Bloggs. The Roses timing was perfect… and the look was the final piece in their golden period of pop perfection.

“It was the first time Manchester had come up with it’s own fashion,” said Saxe, the man who had started it all six years earlier. “That was one of the great things about the Madchester thing. It was Manchester saying, eh look at us, we’re different and we’re cool.”

Full interview transcripts

Coming soon, select interviews from the 100+ conducted for War and Peace – in association with

As previously stated – due to editing constraints – only approximately 20% of  the interview transcripts (at best) were used in the finished book. The full transcripts further colour the Roses story.

Photo essay

Photographer Dennis Morris features on the cover of War and Peace. He has, in the past week, released his own book on the Roses.

I interviewed Dennis for War and Peace – he had been approached by Martin Hannett in 1985 with a view to styling the Roses. Over the years he built a vast archive of unseen photographs of the band (up to 1995) including studio and live work.

He mentioned this during our first interview and later had his lab send over 50+ low-res, untreated, contacts sheets and colour slide sheets with a view to including his photographs in War and Peace. There was over shots 1,000 to look over. We finally chose twenty to include in War and Peace.

Morris rose to fame as photographer while a teenager when Bob Marley picked him out and allowed him unprecedented access. John Lydon subsequently did the same, and Morris’s shots of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited are also iconic. A stylist (he designed the PiL logo), club runner (the Roses played at his Grace Under Pressure night at the Embassy club in 1985) and musician (Hannett produced his band Basement 5), Morris has exhibited his work worldwide. His photographs are highly collectable and are owned by the V&A and English Heritage.

One quote from our interview always stuck out for me, but was not used in War and Peace (and I have been unable to work it into any interviews I have done to promote the book). He said: “The Pistols; what they more or less as a band achieved and created was a standard to go to, a way of approaching music and the business of music. The Roses manipulated all those things and achieved what they did but ultimately it just ended up as false, like everybody else, but it didn’t if you understand… With all these bands and movements what happens is somewhere along the line to achieve what you have to achieve you need to actually be with the majors. So the Roses conceded that and they did that – but in the end within themselves having to deal with that made them implode.”

The 200 page book by Morris includes over 250 never before seen images of the Stone Roses. It is a limited edition (1000) and published by WSI Publishing Ltd. Price £295.

In these low-res, untreated, sheets, you get a flavour of the work – many of Morris’s studio shots of the Roses are reminiscent of the greatest Gered Mankowitz/Rolling Stones sessions from 1966. These are not the finished works included in either War and Peace nor This Is The One. They are copyrighted and not to be reproduced.

The Straits Times (Singapore)

Sir Paul Smith

War and Peace features on Paul Smith’s blog – ‘Things I find interesting’. It is part of the fashion designer’s broader site.

The Stone Roses War and Peace by Simon Spence

The Stone Roses War and Peace by Simon Spence.

There is a great new Stone Roses book out called War and Peace by Simon Spence. If you are fan you should definitely check it out- it should be a really good read! The book coincides with their tour to the UK this Summer.

Poster (2)


Signing contract with Evans in an Italian restaurant in Rushholme, 1987 (copyright Sue Dean), Caroline Reed – Roses short-lived manager circa October 1984, rare gig tickets, the book and the cover of key 7inch single – a style influence on pre-Roses band The Patrol.

Roses archive ephemera

…all material from the archive of Howard Jones, Roses manager 1984-1986.

Roses on tour pics – Sweden 1985 (2)

copyright Lena Kagg Ferrero – featuring Ian, John, Reni, Pete Garner, Andy Couzens, Glen Greenough (RIP), Howard Jones and Toxin Toy (Harald Sickenga, Micke Murhoff, Annette Svensson and Christian Adelov): co-headliners of Swedish tour

The Japan Times, 8 July 2102

Roses on tour pics – Sweden 1985

Part 1 of 2

copyright Lena Kagg Ferrero – featuring Ian, John, Reni, Pete Garner, Andy Couzens, Glen Greenough (RIP), Howard Jones and Toxin Toy (Harald Sickenga, Micke Murhoff, Annette Svensson and Christian Adelov): co-headliners of Swedish tour


Paperback edition due out in June 2013. US hardback edition due out spring 2013. Talk of Coachella and Future Music festival (Australia) spring 2013. Hopes of two and a half hour sets incorporating new album material…

great quote from … the late Tony Wilson, whose words about the Mancunian mindset — as quoted in ’24-hour Party People’ — sum up the Roses’ resurrection.”F Scott Fitzgerald famously said there were no second acts. But this is Manchester: we do things differently here.”

taken from this live review:

And way back when: The Patrol, Lymm Youth Club, 1980 (Squire, Couzens, Brown) copyright Sue Dean

And way back when: The Patrol, Lymm Youth Club, 1980 (Squire, Couzens, Brown) copyright Sue Dean

unseen Roses photos

all copyright Sue Dean


… free with Waterstones edition (limited to 1,000)


free with HMV edition (limited to 3,000)…

Der Spiegel

German weekly news magazine. It is one of Europe’s largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.

Belligerent British

In England, the revival of Britpop titans The Stone Roses, the pop sensation of the season. This weekend, playing the belligerent ravers from Manchester to Germany. Or maybe not. For in Amsterdam, she wrangled mightily on the stage. As singer Ian Brown, the drummer Reni cursed on stage at YouTube to admire. For fans with tiefergehendem interest is worth the new and very entertaining Stone Roses biography of Simon Spence with the aptly titled: “War and Peace”.

“tief” / tiefergehend means DEEP.

In this case “a deeper kind of interest” in the band….

FT – Pick of the crop

FT writers and guests select their books of the year so far, from Anne Boleyn’s fall to the crisis in the eurozone


Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock N Roll, by Marc Dolan, Norton, RRP£17.99, 592 pages

A New York University professor’s academically rigorous rather than salaciously rock and roll account of America’s bard. Handily doubles as a “slantwise way of telling the history of our times”, says Dolan.

Here Comes Everybody: The Story of the Pogues, by James Fearnley, Faber, RRP£14.99, 400 pages

Pogues accordionist James Fearnley’s memoir recreates the magic of the London Irish punk poets and the eventual misery visited on the band by frontman Shane MacGowan’s sustained debauchery.

The Stone Roses: War and Peace, by Simon Spence, Viking, RRP£20, 352 pages

Intended as a history of a British band who professed they’d never get back together, but arriving just ahead of the Stone Roses’ surprise reunion gigs, this book uses 400 hours of interviews to shed light on the Manchester four-piece’s enduring mystique and influence.

Neil O’Sullivan



During XFM’s coverage of the Friday at Heaton Park a couple of people said they heard me pontificating over the airwaves. This was an interview I recorded at the beginning of June and was supposedly to be included in a documentary the station was making on the band (that would include the views of fans). The doc was abandoned but XFM used my clips… I would like to know what I said (as I recall being in a bit of a trance the day of the recording).

Obviously, my vanity pales in comparison to what appears to be an increasingly worrying situation concerning the missing Chris Brahney, 22 – last seen at the Roses gig on Friday. Hopefully channels more powerful than this, such as XFM, will have a positive effect & result by end of day.

The Sun unedited

The Sun centre-spread. Unedited words.

START: The Stone Roses, as is becoming increasingly clear to a new generation of fans, are a band like no other. For those who took them to heart in the late 80s, the hoo-ha that has surrounded their comeback is business as usual.

Complete disdain for the media: check. Audiences in a quasi-religious rapture: check. The three finest musicians of a generation riffing toward heaven and a shamanic front man aflame: always. All we need now is for their infamous former manager Gareth Evans to park up with a van full of cheap merchandise…

Time has stood still for The Stone Roses. It should be mentioned here that fans do not go to watch Ian, John, Mani & Reni in live action expecting note perfect renditions of the classics songs; more for where they lead us and where we take them. As Ian Brown as often, and famously, decreed, it is as much about the audience as it is the band. To see the Roses in concert is always more than a gig – the event is all.

Since the Roses split in acrimony in 1996, no guitar band has managed to uplift and inspire on such a mass scale. They do not have fans – they have a sea. Drummer Reni and guitarist/songwriter John Squire, having spent more than a decade away from the rigor of the music business, both retain their poster boy good looks. Bassist Mani [with Primal Scream] and singer/songwriter Brown have continued to make music as dynamic, devilish, pure and soulful as prime-time Roses – it is etched in their lined faces and bursting out from their shining eyes.

If the Sex Pistols lived on a knife-edge, the Roses have always walked a high wire. Last week’s ‘Renigate’ incident was not even a storm in a teacup by Roses standards: one strop/one song/one swear word – nothing. Always, with the Roses, it is accepted and expected, that anything could happen – there are no guarantees. It is part of the thrill.

Even at their hysterically received press conference last October, when they made the announcement of their comeback, there was no certainty all four would show up on the day. Subsequent rehearsals were also sometimes fraught. Here is a band, the only band, that could sell 220,000 tickets in 68 minutes for three dates in Manchester – the fastest selling rock gigs in UK history – and then blow it out, for any reason, perhaps simply because they rolled out of bed on the wrong side

Maybe that could still happen? Manchester’s famous entrepreneurial spirit has already sprung into action. Is it possible we would just be left with a pile of thousands of unworn, new style ‘Reni hats’? The reclusive drummer, as well as ‘storming off stage’ in Amsterdam launched a new hat. His ‘kerchief and dreads – best described as a Captain Jack Sparrow – is fast becoming as infamous as his much-aped bucket hat.

Even before the band found fame with the iconic song Fools Gold in late 1989, the Roses’ propensity for chaos was self-evident: canings, fights, truancy at school; rebellious streaks enflamed by punk; Brown as brawling roadie for an fiercely anti-fascist Oi! band; early Roses gigs dotted with riots, police raids, smashed equipment and attacked audiences; Manchester covered in graffiti; and enmity to offers of support: “If you want to help, great – well done pal; now f*** off”.

The Roses have always divided opinion. The dearly departed Factory Records’ boss Tony Wilson spent six years hating them and promoting a war of the bands between the Roses and Happy Mondays that only existed in his head. He was not alone in his dislike of the band. Their back-story is littered with squabbles, self-righteous self-belief and self-destructive tendencies. Even as the NME declared them to be ‘On Top Of The World’ following the release of their magnificent debut album The Stone Roses in 1989, they were refusing to play a prestigious, sold-out date at Madison Square Garden in New York – on the principal the gig had been booked without them being asked first.

There was also a strong element of fairytale and romance to their rise (that was reflected in their music and why it appealed as much to women as men). Soul singer Geno Washington changed the course of Ian Brown’s life at a chance meeting in 1983; insisting Brown had the personality and looks to become a star. At their first ever gig in late 1984 the band mesmerized Pete Townshend to the extent he tried to poach Reni.

Perhaps the Roses’ most infamous escapade came in early 1990 and saw them hurling paint at the premises and staff of their former record label. Other record companies were simply double-crossed. Video shoots were wrecked. Television crews were mocked with cries of “amateurs”. They planned to pull off Terry Wogan’s wig on the chat show king’s prime-time BBC1 TV show (pulling out only when they discovered the show would be pre-recorded). Brown talked about revolution and of beheading the Queen, Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher.

The ‘Madchester’ scene they were elected figureheads of saw their home city become the centre of the world’s musical universe as the 80s became the 90s. Bands such as Happy Mondays, James, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and 808 State, fashion labels such as Gio-Goi and Joe Bloggs, and T-shirt statements such as ‘Just Say No To London’, ‘And on the sixth day God created MANchester’ left an indelible imprint on youth culture.

In this period, the chaos behind the scenes caught up with Roses – and they spent many months not capitalizing on Madchester but in courts, High and low, on jail-threatening criminal damage charges and embarking on a nine-month career-threatening war with the music industry.

They revived for one final everlasting jeweled moment and to claim the Madchester crown: Spike Island – a sublime instalment, witnessed by 40,000 people, on a reclaimed toxic wasteland in Widnes. The gig was their then peak. From here the unraveling was spectacular and its seed came in the shape of their inimitable manager Gareth Evans. The Roses determined they wanted a manager as famous as they were, like Andrew Loog Oldham with the Stones, Peter Grant with Led Zeppelin, or Malcolm McLaren with the Sex Pistols. In Evans, they found a man prepared to trump them all.

As evidence of his bipolar behaviour he managed to famously sign the worst record deal in music history and next to charm American label Geffen Records [famously home to Guns ‘N Roses] in to taking a $20 million punt on the band. The Geffen executives had never seen the Roses play live or heard any new material from them. Evans went beyond chutzpah and in to the realms of pure madness.

He was the manager who snubbed offers of help from David Bowie [who wanted to produced the band] and Paul McCartney [‘What’s in it for Paul,’ he asked]. A typical story of the many thousands to feature Evans came on a skiing holiday with New Order singer Bernard Sumner. Evans, having never skied before, insisted on starting off on the most dangerous slope – almost killing himself.

His real name was Ian Bromley. He was ten years older than the band. He had a yacht moored off the coast in Peurto Andratx in Portugal and liked to deal in cash and gold bullion – and bizarrely novelty underpants. His ownership of the money spinning International and International II clubs in Manchester (the venues where the Roses rehearsed and were launched) was shrouded in mystery. “We thought he was Al Capone, and he thought he was Al Capone,” said Ian Brown.

He always had a fat wad of rolled up cash in his pocket (actually mainly scraps of newspaper with cash on the outside of roll – nonetheless he was regularly mugged and nick-named ‘cash point’). Evans slept for fours hour a night, and from 1986 until 1991 he accelerated the Roses toward the edge at break-neck spread. He toiled for them tirelessly – and he loved them (he came closest to breaking into the famously insular inter-band bond).

The problem was Evans loved money just as much as the band. The first thing he said to the legendary rock photographer Pennie Smith, who still is the band’s photographer, was: “I know what I want out of the band – I want a helicopter. What do you want?” Property deals, pursuit of golf course ownership, more front than Selfridges and an ego to match: Evans lied when there was no advantage to doing so; he just enjoyed it. The impression was he could pull a gun at any given moment. It suited everyone to believe that.

He aided and abetted the Roses – planting stories that caught fire such as the Roses refusing to support The Rolling Stones or playing a gig to 100,000 outside of Buckingham Palace. He even suggested Ian Brown should fake his own death. The band’s famed producer John Leckie was astounded, on first meeting the Roses, to discover not just that they could be as musically shambolic as immaculate, but at the fiery manager/band relationship. During 1988 pre-production demo sessions he saw Evans punch Reni in the face, followed by a major brawl – all over a £10 taxi fare.

As much as Evans built the Roses mystique, his greed and music business ineptitude finally caught up with him. The band sacked him in early 1992 (he threatened to burn down any studio he found them in). With the $20 million deal with Geffen and no manager, the Roses spent almost three years from March 1992 to October 1994, recording their second album, immodestly but magnificently titled Second Coming.

In those years the idea of the band as a tight-knit unit disintegrated. Reni was the first to leave. The promotion of the new album was as painful as the recording of it. Even the famous Guns ‘N Roses manager, Doug Goldstein (who briefly attempted to manage the Roses), could not bring them to heel. They were, always were, unmanageable. One world tour later, packed with highs and farcical lows, Squire quit. After a final show at Reading Festival in 1996, Brown and Mani disbanded the Roses. They were in debt; flat broke – spiritually as well as financially.

For fifteen years Squire and Brown maintained a lover’s tiff that eclipsed even the famous spat between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Reni said absolutely nothing. And Mani cemented his reputation as a man of the people.

So forgive me for being excited. I have already said, the three days in Heaton Park could potentially be as long and fondly remembered as Woodstock – for the city as well as the band. It has zero to do with nostalgia. The Roses are the only band in history that never sold out and never flogged a dead horse. “People will remember that,” Mani said in 1996.

This is a chance to hear the truth, from the only band who ever told it. Who walked it like they talked it and sang it like they saw it. And why can’t this be more? Look at the now of The Beach Boys or the Stones… growing old can be as electric, more so, than those golden flashes of youthful magnificence. That decision, uniquely for the Roses, is now purely in their own hands. ENDS

Sabotage Times

The ‘Roses on film’ switched sites (from Manchester Confidential to Sabotage Times) – nice that music editor Gaz Evans split the 5,000 extract into two parts: but just same as the extracts up on the Manchester Confidential site … unseen extracts, i.e not in the book.

thanks to:

and good to see more of Dennis Morris’s superb shots of the Roses up at The Telegraph. The first shot is W&P cover…  which is why I always say, in this instance, you can judge a book by the cover…

The Sun

hat’s on or off? My granddad read this paper every day. When I was a kid in Barnsley he drove a train for British Rail, and every time he came past my nana’s house (where I grew up) he’d toot his train horn. I can hear him tooting it today.

I made p 28 – 29, what they call the  centre spread, with a nice plug on the cover too.

I’m also getting to the bottom of who the kid was that stormed the stage during the Words On Music event. Turns out he’s half way there.

Nathan’s live stage invasion, although very Manc, meant we only got through two of Bob’s ten topics for discussion: so all are looking forward to sharing their opinions in word.

words on music


the live book launch went well. Huge thanks to George at Hertz studio who handled the sound. Also to Ian who handled the stream/cameras/mics. I know there was a lot of other back room support – but I prefer to think of it as a miracle.

Helen Mead, Sarah Champion, Si Wolstencroft and Elliot Rashman were all wonderful on the sofas. Bob Dickinson did a sterling job in the chair. In the studio we had many luminaries: Julia Nagle (Adamson) particularly brought some fun to the party

It was more than a pleasure to meet Mike Greenwood, who co-manages Dirty North.

And Paula Greenwood. Wow!

Thanks to all those who came and made it an event. Apologies to those whose names, for now, escape me. (If you still want the book signing, I’m at HMV 1pm on Friday 29 June).

Thanks also to all the people who twittered in questions, inc Simon Mason & Mark Simpson (yes, it was very Manc!). Sorry we didn’t answer the Q’s – the live stream got a little tasty… and before we knew it the hour and half had gone.

Keith sent me the figures for the live stream: It was his idea, his experiment.

we had a license for 200 simultaneous connections

He says: these stats are not like individual user connections
the likely hood is there are a fair few user duplications
someone might of tried 10 or 20 times and still failed.


edited filmed highlights from the event will be hosted on the site (first edit on Thursday)

Words from all contributors, attendees and some of those that did get connected will also be going up on the site.

Made of Paper

I interviewed Tim Vigon for War & Peace. He was inspired by the late 1988 rush of Roses to create the band’s original and best fanzine, Made of Paper (two issues only). The first went on sale at Blackpool, the second at Spike Island.

Tim was then just 17. He spoke of those days at length – not reflected in the finished book (but underscoring it). He did not speak with any sense of nostalgia, but with fire. A fire that I identified with – and, like him, have kept in my belly to this day. Tim, with Tony Perrin, is now running the  highly successful Coalition Management company.

He recently wrote to me: “Just a quick note to say I’m reading the Roses book at the moment – I went to Barcelona which was sensational and am away in SE Asia so can’t make Heaton Park sadly.  I will see them in Japan at Fuji Rock though and am excited about it.

“I’m about 1/4 of the way into the book and it’s great – so much stuff I had no idea about at all!!! Especially the stuff around spike island and that the band were already struggling at this point with writing etc – congratulations on what feels like the definitive book about one of the great British bands.”


As much as I am tempted to have the BOOT ROOM bosh this review up. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012. You may share using our article tools.
Please don’t cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

I’m told Kitty Empire is reviewing the book for The Observer tomorrow. In print, I am particularly excited about an authored essay I was asked to do for The Sun. It ran to 1,700 words.

Most of the the preparation for the book’s launch event is now in place. It takes place live tomorrow 24 June 2012. You can watch it at

The live stream can be seen on iPad and iPhone or any web. If you’re busy, the site will stay live for the months to come and the filmed footage will be available to see at any date. The site will also develop to feature written contributions from all those who participated in the book, and at the event.

If you want to ask a question – for the final half an hour we will be taking those via twitter

It takes place at the incredible Hertz studio at the Sharp Project building.

For further info e-mail:

LIVE in the studio with me, out of my depth now, will be: HELEN MEAD, BOB DICKINSON, SI WOLSTENCROFT, SARAH CHAMPION, RO NEWTON, ELLIOT RASHMAN, JOHN NUTTALL, PAULA GREENWOOD and many more. The studio seats 30 people with some standing room.

Contributing digitally will be: ROBERT CHALMERS, MARK SIMPSON, SIMON MASON, LEN BROWN and GAZ EVANS plus more.

It sounds highfalutin but is really pretty simple.

Words on Music

Rock Journalism Missing Presumed Dead

What makes a great rock book? Can musicians and writers ever agree? Should they? Can rock writing aspire to be an art form? Or is it just an easy route out of serious journalism? Is it dead? Or reborn in a new world online? And, eternally, are all rock writers just frustrated musicians?
The discussion will centre around game changers such as the erosion of traditional publishing revenues, industry trends including subscription and distribution models, and possible industry responses like multi-channel convergence and centralized metadata repositories (only kidding!).
Questions that need answering include: What will next generation E Books look like? How will fibre to the home impact Print and Audio? Where will value shift to in the Music Publishing Industry? Is technology a threat or an opportunity?
The format is deliberately informal, with a chance for everyone to put forward their views in an open online discussion via twitter.



Friday 29th June – 1.00pm – signing only

Hmv Manchester 90 – 90/100 Market Street, Manchester, M1 1PD

send out press releases to the local media and produce posters for the windows. make up some leaflets which the store will distribute. Details will be posted on, Twitter and Facebook.

Penguin have confirmed the following hmv in-store event with Simon Spence his new book The Stone Roses: War & Peace, released w/c 7th June

Friday 29th June – 1.00pm – hmv Manchester 90 Market St.

Brand new biog to coincide with the band’s reformation.  Signing lands on the same weekend as the Roses homecoming gigs at Heaton Park.

EXTERNAL: I’ll just bob about until about 3pm, maybe same again on Saturday depending.

Don’t Stop

I credited the Don’t Stop website in the book’s bibliography. That site, and This Is The Daybreak both have excellent Roses archives that saved long slogs at the British Newspaper Library.

But it’s the forum on the Don’t Stop site that slays me

If you want to share in the excitement of the Roses comeback it is a real treat – especially for the gigs. It is also the easiest forum I have found to manoeuvre about on. Plus the webmaster Paul Stevens has his own Roses book in the pipeline, which sounds fantastic.

I always had the bands fans in sight when writing War And Peace – experts and newcomers. This is a quote from a contributor to the Don’t Stop forum that means more than any review to date:

“I bought a copy at Heathrow on the way to Amsterdam and dipping into it over the subsequent couple of days I was in the Dutch capital only heightened my anticipation – and enjoyment – of the concert.”

On the forum, War and Peace is debated. I see it starts frosty, freezes, then warms to a glow that I’ll always carry. To date, there are 296 replies over 20 pages, and 6705 views.

Roses on film

A new unseen extract going live on the Manchester Confidential website tomorrow. The Roses on film, a catalogue of disasters: Blackpool; Ally Pally; Spike Island; I Wanna Be Adored/Fools Gold (in Lanzarote); One Love (Stockport); Love Spreads (LA version); Ten Storey Love Song and Begging You.

Fingers crossed then for the Shane Meadows film. Also for The Sun – a 1,500 word ‘authored essay’ -their words- on the Roses this weekend, plus the Financial Times and Observer.

What is nailed down is the book’s online launch: WORDS ON MUSIC – taking place at the Sharp Project (Hertz studio) 6pm-7.30pm Sunday 24 June. We have a great chair1, table6 and around 20 fantastic seats. Plus electronic contributions, via twitter, from some other big-hitters.

The site should be going up today. If you miss it live on Sunday, the site will host the filmed event for dipping in and out of. Plus all the contributors will be writing words on music for the site.

Si Wolstencroft

Si Wolstencroft, original drummer in the Roses (and The Smiths) – as well as drummer with The Fall and on Ian Brown’s solo material – enjoyed the book. He was pleased at not being misquoted, or misrepresented. Si has been on the road with the Roses, at a couple of the European dates, and has known Ian since their shared schooldays.

Si gave his copy to Ian with a hearty recommendation. It was partly over Si’s interview for War and Peace that Ian saw red. I’m a different shade of red now.

Two punts: try and be around a computer on early evening Sunday 24 June. War and Peace is launching online. Details on Wednesday.

And Dennis Morris – who supplied not just the cover shot for War and Peace, but over 20 great photographs inside, is holding a launch for his own Roses’ book on 12 July. For more info on Dennis.

word of mouth

As demanded by Joel I have been into Waterstones (signing and scribbling in the books) in Manchester: Stockport/Deansgate/Arndale/Trafford Centre and Alty branches.

The posters going up in Waterstones this coming week are beyond classy: an A2 b&w unseen Dennis Morris shot of the band from 1989, with a tiny Penguin logo in the bottom right hand corner. Again, no title, spoiling things…

But, it was in HMV where I was left staggered. Gary Williamson, the chief book buyer for HMV, called me from London, and, yes, I did want to thank him.

Green Day

The Independent guy being Nick Clark, Arts Correspondent

and also, as promised, in the i… 20p!

The Independent, pretty ironic considering…

The (above) root of much heartache (for me)… and much, much misunderstanding/confusion… and mis-timing on a frightening scale… Always better to get facts straight by speaking to the author, right?

Still, always have been and always will be rooting for the Indie… chip paper all though; but maybe better than wisps or whisps elsewhere… all aboard.

schoolboy error

Barcelona 2 is in our hearts; you didn’t even need to see it or hear it – you could feel it thousands and thousands of miles away. Higher and higher, deeper and deeper: Something’s Burning and Standing Here. What next? Ride On…

The Independent news desk needed perspective about Amsterdam. Didn’t Sid Vicious kill his girlfriend and then himself, slash his wrists and chest with glass… ? This was what? Par for the course for the Roses? Not even that. They’ve not even got the clubs out the bag or their golf shoes on yet… a band that sold out Madison Square Garden and refused to play the gig, a band whose every live moment is an event to take to heart, to partake in, not to prod and poke, a band where anything could happen… a unique, precious thing… and, you know what? They never did encores… ‘proof rock music had become showbusiness,’ said Squire. Just be grateful for the ones they have done…

This is not showbiz. Coldplay. It’s hot play; it is alchemy. Who’d have begrudged Reni, after those 12 minutes of Fools Gold last night, to have walked off there and then and never come back… sweet holy mother…  I’m no expert, but the rolls? he was throwing in around 10 minutes were otherworldly. And singing. Maybe he is an alien. Maybe there’s the big story…

The prospect of Heaton Park grows more magical by the day. More passion, more real, and more, what’s the word? Anti-showbiz? Truthful… why we all feel righteous? Humble and determined to make it the best 3 days of their musical lives…

I pointed The Independent to that footage of Fools Gold for the real truth… John doing an almost Chuck Berry duck walk round his perspex sound shield to face Reni and start on Day Tripper, also referencing Sympathy For The Devil… did you hear that? And they’re coming on to Stoned Love, is that right? The Supremes…

They are beyond bands, above the knife-edge… but I said Taxman, not Day Tripper! schoolboy error. We’re all allowed one. Especially amid all this excitement and joy. I did hum the tune for The Independent guy. Anyway it’s more chip paper – and he said it’d be in my daily read, i, as well. It’s only 20p. Bargain.

This, hopefully, will be around for a little longer. The second unseen extract from War and Peace on the Manchester Confidential site. More fashion, I’m afraid. Important though, ain’t it?

And I picked up a book, with the 5 free postcards – utilising photos from the book, in HMV; nice – and only £12. Cheap. The Waterstones posters are on the way. Put your name down for one…  they look incredible.

My hairdresser bumped into Mani the other day. She’s looking forward to Benicassim and wanted to tell him how much the band meant to her. “Thanks for getting me off the dole,” he said. I didn’t get my hair cut.

The Sunday Times, anytime, all times

Culture magazine THE SUNDAY TIMES 27.05.12

26-27 MUSIC

The Stone Roses’ reunion has been both a blessing and a curse for their long-suffering biographer. Dan Cairns meets a man on a mission

What a world waited for

The Stone Roses reunion should have been great news for their biographer. Why did it nearly derail the whole project? It’s down to their ‘fantastic chaos’, hears Dan Cairns

To console himself while researching and writing War and Peace, his new biography of the iconic Manchester band the Stone Roses, the music journalist and author Simon Spence would think about Andrew Loog Oldham. Spence collaborated with the former Rolling Stones manager on his memoir, Stoned (and its follow-up, 2Stoned), and never has the phrase “labour of love” been more apt. “He cost me,” Spence laughs, “almost 10 years of my life.” The writer interviewed more than 300 people while preparing Stoned, as well as flying regularly to Colombia, where Oldham was by then based. “He once had me come over to Bogota, and kept me waiting for a week before he would see me, to see ‘how far he could push me’.”

War and Peace was conceived in colloboration with the Roses’ drummer, Reni, who enabled Spence to talk to many of the key players in the band’s story – silent until that point. Later, the band’s bassist, Mani, would promise to DJ at the book’s launch party, giving Spence hope that he would soon gain access to the band’s remaining members, the shamanic front man, Ian Brown, and the guitarist, John Squire.

It is an irony not lost on the writer that the group’s reunion, announced to great fanfare – and some cynicisim – last year, proved not the lucky break you might expect, but a development that that almost scuppered the project. Overnight, Spence says, a book that had been years in the making was seen – by some in the band and many of those around them – as an opportunistiuc enterprise.

The groundwork Spence had painstakingly laid counted, in an instant, for nothing. An article about the book had appeared in a national nespaper at the same time as the announcement of the reunion was dominating the news pages, and all hell broke loose. “I was told,” the writer says, “that Reni walked into the first rehearsal to see Ian and John hunched over the article, and there was an almighty row, the first of several. Then, understandably, Reni and Mani decided they weren’t going to ruin the reunion over a book, so Reni pulled out and left me high and dry.”

There is no trace of bitterness in Spence’s voice as he says this. Many would have given up at this stage. Spence, a graduate of the Loog Oldham school of hard knocks, was made of sterner stuff. It helped, he says, that he was a diehard fan. Threatening phone calls from Brown, who allegedly feared that Spence would cast him in an unflattering light, further talk of intra-band bust-ups over the book, the sudden downgrading of War and Peace’s status (neither the words “authorised” nor “official” could now be attached to the biography): wasn’t he tempted to throw in the towel? “I went through a lot of stuff with Andrew Oldham,” Spence laughs, “that was this experience, these difficulties, multiplied by 100.”

I ask him if the difficulties he encountered with the Roses soured his love of the band. “I was already pretty cynical,” he says. “Not so much about them as about the industry in general. After spending 10 years with Oldham, not that he doesn’t love music, but you can’t help but be dragged down into the business side of things. And I spent time with Don Arden” – the ruthless “Al Capone of pop”, who managed Black Sabbath and ELO, among others – “who they say was the most feared man in music history. I’ve sat with him when he’s ripped people’s hearts out. He was on the phone once to a journalist who had upset him, and he tore the guy into pieces,. I’m not sure the guy wrote anything ever again.”

War and Peace is a vindication of Spence’s perseverance. A comprehensive, no-holds-barred account of a band as shambolic, chaotic, mercurial and self-destructive as the Stone Roses was never going to read like a love letter to its subject, yet Spence cannot hide his abiding affection  – even as he details with steely, forensic precision, the story of the group’s ascent, hedyay and spectacular implosion. All the triumphs and disasters are here: the release of their debut album in 1989, with its swaggering, intoxicating blend of funk, soul and 1960s guitar pop; era-defining singles such as Fools Gold, She Bangs the Drums and Waterfall; incendiary shows in Blackpool and at Alexandra Palace, in London; Madchester’s unstoppable momentum as the Roses and Happy Mondays lay waste to Britain; the antics of their equally chaotic manager, Gareth Evans; the label dispute that hindered the band’s progress; the ruinous drug-induced delay in releasing their follow-up album, Second Coming (slated by critics, but adored by most fans); a hiatus enabled by the sudden influx of serious money following the band’s signing by the American label Geffen; and Brown’s excruciating performance at Reading in 1996, alongside Mani, by then the only other original member in the group.

Spence then proceeds to describe the years that followed, during which Brown launched a solo career, Mani joined Primal Scream, Squire formed the Seahorses and, later, reinvented himself as an artist, and Reni disappeared from view. With the exception of Brown and Mani, the group communicated rarely, if at all during this period. All the while, rumours of a reunion would briefly catch fire, only to be doused either by a curt statement from someone in the band or, more usually, a deafening silence. When Squire at one point sent an idea for a song to Brown, with the suggestion that they work on it together, one of Brown’s sons cried out: “Dad, you can’t work on that, he sold you out, didn’t he? Don’t do it.”

The guitarist was equally dismissive when, in 2009, he produced a new artwork bearing the words: “I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group the Stones Roses.” Was Spence himself surprised by the group’s re-fromation. “When I starred the book,” he says, “a reunion seemed inconceivable.” So what changed? It is well known that an emotional meeting between Brown and Squire at the funeral of Mani’s mother was the catalyst for a sustained period of reacquaintance and the healing of old wounds. Yet this key point was overlooked by many, whose reaction was that money, and money alone, could be the explanation for the burying of such mighty hatchets. Spence doesn’t see it that way.

“There’s always been a vast amount of money on the table for a reunion,” he concedes. “So there was a lot of cynicism, inevitably. But I think the ending of the band was sad, almost tragic in some ways. This is unfinished business.”

Fan’s reaction to the reunion was to bombard ticket lines when details of the Roses first comeback shows at Heaton Park, in Manchester, were announced (150,000 tickets were snapped up in less than quarter of an hour.) “When I started in journalism,” Spence says, “the reason I got going was the Roses, basically. I’d seen them at Blackpool and Alexandra Palace, and I’d got the look, I had the flares and the haircut.”

The atmosphere on the street leading up to Second Coming’s release was, Spence says, “one of hysteria. I was working at a record label [WEA] and got sacked because I was playing [lead single] Love Spreads from first thing in the morning till clocking-off time, continuously. It drove people mad. I said, ‘You’ve got it all wrong at this label. Why don’t you release any decent music? Music like this’”. A long pause while Spence laughs at his teenage chutzpah. “That whole period was chaos,” he says. “But fantastic chaos.”

As the band he has devoted years to – as a fan and biographer – prepare to record a new album and hit the road for a long summer of sold-out shows, what does Spence expect? “More of the same,” he chuckles. “More of the same.”

The Stone Roses: War and Peace is published by Viking on June 7

Something’s Burning

I watched War and Peace go to No1 in the amazon races Joel entered us for. It remains there despite the price now rising on the site, presumably to make it more equitable with other retailers. HMV have a special edition in the pipeline that includes five free artworks based on images used in the book. Waterstones have ordered 100 big posters for their shops. I wouldn’t mind one of those. Maybe I can improve on it.

It’s another long story. In 1995/96 I had a two week art exhibition that among 8 big paintings featured a Roses inspired effort (that subsequently got turned into a dress and then was lost).

Joel and Annabel are keen for me visit Waterstones (for different reasons). I will follow Joel’s instructions to ‘kick up a fuss’ in any stores I happen across – when I finally leave the house. I think basically that means ad hoc signings and scribbles on in-store editions. He also said to e-mail him or the PR team (addresses found under ‘Contact’ on this site) to let them know if the book is not in your local shop. Mums reported disappointment in Lancaster and Derby.

The second night at Barcelona raised the bar – the roof, and (hundreds of) thousands of spirits. Personally; a little more assured and even more sincerely humble. And ready to deliver for Denmark’s biggest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

I have always sought the advice of men who tell it straight and pure. And always take it.

“Don’t let the flashlights dazzle you. More important, don’t get ‘all important’ in front of your kids – they will remember. Am more than chuffed at your new moon rising.” best, o

“Don’t get too obsessed with being No.1! It could be your undoing ha ha…” Peter Hook.

Hook is to follow the huge success of his Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club book with this beauty in September.

Boom Boom

Jonathan says tomorrow. Another chunk of unseen extract from War And Peace going on the Manchester Confidential website. The Madchester boom in T-shirts – Gio-Goi, Bailey Brothers, Central Station, Bloggs, Identity, Inspirals, some lemon and more. Lots of quote we couldn’t use in War And Peace – but, again, similar to the flares extract (but twice the length), some of my favourite stuff.

If I knew how, maybe this would be a tweet. I have not got to grips with the promotional use of twitter or facebook (I had to join the latter so I could send messages to various interviewees). I also found a few good leads on myspace. I’ve never managed to send a tweet or facebook splodge myself. Keith is maybe fixing me up with something new for twit/face/space.

So, while he does, thanks to this tweet from: Iain Wright (Labour Member of Parliament for Hartlepool and Shadow Minister for Competitiveness and Enterprise). Wright wrote: “Reading The Stone Roses: War and Peace. Fantastic biography of the best band of the last 30 years. Recommend it.”

He will presumably know I’m referencing John Lee Hooker, not basil brush.

Gordon Smart XFM (Smart On Sunday) show now on podcast [Episode 23] – starts 6.30mins… (I’m talking golden era stage set-up).

Made with special materials

Good luck to all in Barcelona, including Shane Meadows. Palpable excitement building now for Heaton Park: my favourite topic of discussion so far being about what jacket to wear…

The Roses/Meadows film has always promised/had potential to be a Scorsese-esque classic. In an earlier blog, I described meeting up with the film’s archiver producer – and putting the book in her safe hands. She also worked (as archive producer/researcher) on the recent Marley documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World and a couple of Julien Temple films, among much more…

I appreciated her response this morning: that she had enjoyed the book and wished us well. “It’s very well written, easy to read, well researched, fair, and funny in parts. I can’t see how anyone might be unhappy with it.” Sam Dywer


Before I interviewed Brian Pugsley for War and Peace, I told him about the 1991 NME cover story.

Pugsley had been chosen by John Leckie to act as engineer during the first, month long, recording session of Second Coming at Ewloe in 1992. He had previously worked closely, and over a long period, with The Shamen – a band who had embraced acid house and were invigorated by American philosopher Terence McKenna.

Leckie wanted Pugsley at hand to facilitate the Roses experimentation with loops, samples and electronics (a role familiar to him from his work with The Shamen). In that first session at Ewloe, the Roses cooked up, from scratch, the album’s most experimental track, Begging You. It was heavily-treated and club heavy; markedly different from any other song on Second Coming. It was also, for a long time, my favourite cut on the album (especially some of the mixes, when it was released as a single). Leckie had admitted dance music was not his thing, so it seemed logical that Pugsley must have had a heavy hand in aiding the track’s creation. His contribution to War and Peace, however, was strangely stilted.

He explained in a recent e-mail how well he had remembered the hurt and anger the NME story had caused, and, although he admired my couragousness in admitting to it up front (I was not writing under my birth name at the time but under my adopted name of Dudfield), it had left him in a quandry. That was why his contribution had dried up.

Will Sinnott died in 1991, but is still in many hearts and sounds. I did not even begin to scrape the surface of the man in the article. It was certainly not a fitting tribute to a kind, intelligent and extremely patient man. Thinking about Will, and that repugnant, offensive article, made the sending of the book to Pugsley seem a deeply inconsequential action: but I did it anyway.

Pugsley said he was on a Shamen/McKenna buzz when he hooked up with the Roses at Ewloe. It was familiar territory for Leckie. Mani dusted off and re-read his Carlos Casteneda and Carl Sagan books. Pugsley was not present at the second Ewloe session. The execution of Begging You would not be repeated.

Meanwhile, have now put up a Roses Top 10 – chosen by me. I did it a while back – but am happy enough still with the choices (if nothing but to hear some early Reni again). They ran a similar thing on Bowie recently. That was a top ten of Bowie rarities. I said I didn’t want to go there with the Roses for fear of being eaten alive by the band’s ferocious fan-base – many of whom are far more qualified than me on that score. I know three obvious ones… but there must be hundreds of live Roses bootlegs doing the rounds. So, no.

Instead I chose 10 Roses tracks from their official back-catalogue (yes, I’m including the Garage Flower album – is it only me and Slim who still like that one?). The 10 tracks, perhaps, illustrate the often over-looked richness to the band’s career that, in more mainstream media, is often solely recalled for the big hits and the one big album. Not a bad thing to be known for, obviously, but I wanted to say, hey, there’s more… much more.

I’m wearing a FAY jacket by the way. The pics are well-chosen and look great, as you’d expect from GQ

The link is dead: I found a “ROUGH DRAFT for GQ” in the files.

The Stone Roses only recorded three albums and released ten singles in their 13-year career. Even so, beyond the national anthems, there remain many undiscovered gems in the band’s slim back catalogue. War and Peace author Simon Spence chooses an alternative greatest hits; featuring 10 of the best lesser known Roses songs.

Trust A Fox (from the Garage Flower album – recorded 1985 for Thin Line Records) 3.04. Produced by Martin Hannett. Written by Brown/Squire/Couzens

The most ferocious track from the abandoned Garage Flower album (that lay dormant for 11 years before being released by Jive/Zomba in 1996) and one that producer Martin Hannett said terrified him with its aggression and intensity. A finished mix was never completed, making the song uneasy but exhilarating listening. This is the Roses at their most feral: Brown’s abrasive punk spite matched by Reni’s insane drumming – PiL meets Rush.

All I Want (from the Garage Flower album – recorded 1985 for Thin Line Records) 3.40. Produced by Martin Hannett. Written by Brown/Squire/Couzens

Not for nothing was Hannett dubbed the ‘father of post-modern neo-Gothic dance music’. But beneath the mid-80s dark rock guitar sound, the quasi-mystical lyric, easy pace and dynamics of All I Want are clear indication of where the Roses were heading. The bass line and driving beat are classic Roses and there’s also an early brief inclusion of backward recording.

I Wanna Be Adored (from the Garage Flower album – recorded 1985 for Thin Line Records) 3.29. Produced by Martin Hannett. Written by Brown/Squire.

The original recording of the classic track and one which John Leckie leaned hard on for his 1989 cut. Built on a Squire bass line and with Brown persuaded less is more lyrically; the atmospherics and structure of the song were captured here perfectly by Hannett. He also created the exquisite guitar sound that allowed the song’s classic riff to snake majestically out of the speakers.

Here It Comes (from the Garage Flower album – recorded 1985 for Thin Line Records) 2.39. Produced by Martin Hannett. Written by Brown/Squire.

A delicious and immediate bubblegum guitar line dominates as the Roses firmly embrace pop. It is not just the band’s first strong melody but also in the playful lyric a statement of band philosophy. This is a definitive career moment, catching the Roses perfectly between punk pupation and their metamorphosis.

All Across The Sands (B-side to Sally Cinnamon 12” single – recorded 1987 for FM Revolver Records) 2.47. Produced by the band and Simon Machan. Written by Squire/Brown

A lost classic as the band entered their familiar golden-era. Essentially a rough demo, cut at Spirit studio in Manchester, with a bass part from original member Pete Garner, it remains one of the band’s sweetest, most romantic and whimsical moments. Squire’s dainty guitar line and Brown’s softening vocals a blueprint for later pure pop pieces such as Mersey Paradise.

Elephant Stone (unreleased 7” single – recorded for Rough Trade Records, 1988) 3.20Produced by Peter Hook. Written by Squire/Brown

Pressed up by Rough Trade before the band unceremoniously dropped the label in favour of signing with Jive/Zomba (and the track was remixed by John Leckie for release). The Roses preferred this version, including a thunderclap sound effect created by ‘playing’ a dustbin lid. It combined the clean, dancier sound of New Order with Squire’s wah-wah guitar – the first direct influence the Happy Mondays had on the Roses – with Reni pushed to the front of the sound. ‘Ian and John had got it with the melodies and lyrics but they were lucky to get Reni because he took them from being a traditional, normal rock band into the stratosphere with other great groups,’ said producer Hook.

Guernica (B-side to Made of Stone 12” single – recorded for Jive Records 1989) 4.23. Produced by The Garage Flowers (the band). Written by Squire/Brown

Named after the Picasso masterpiece and inspired by the sights and sounds of planes taking off during trips to Manchester airport, this is the Roses greatest sonic moment. Based on a backward version of Made of Stone, with revealingly self-coruscating lyrics (‘We’re whores, that’s us’), this experimental soundscape is the high-watermark in a side of the band that they never, sadly, fully explored. ‘I’d love to have done it as an A-side,’ said Brown.

Standing Here (B-side to She Bangs the Drums 12” single – recorded for Jive Records, 1989) 5.05. Produced by John Leckie. Written by Squire/Brown.

A proto-Fools Gold, and the first sign the band could move beyond exhilarating pop in a new direction, meshing steamy funk and folk-rock magic. The unmistakable influence of Hendrix that informed the band overflows here and as the Roses began to embrace rhythm as key. Reni’s otherworldly drumming on this track lifts it beyond its traditional strong structure. A whole career in five minutes: an unsurpassable lyric, vocal, guitar and rhythm – four men at their peak.

Something’s Burning (B-side to One Love single – recorded for Jive Records, 1990) 7.50. Produced by John Leckie. Written by Squire/Brown.

The final and greatest moment of the band during their golden era: recording only hours after vandalizing a former record label, still covered in paint and with the police on their tales, Something’s Burning was a further exploration of the groove and rhythm the Roses had pursued on Fools Gold. The track was as grown-up as the Roses ever sounded, mining a funk that suggested they might take off in George Clinton’s 1970s Mothership. Instead it was the full stop on an era.

 Ride On (B-side to Ten Storey Love Song, recorded for Geffen Records, 1995) 5.56. Produced by Paul Schroeder/Simon Dawson. Written by Squire/Brown.

The Roses sexiest track, akin to the Mondays’ erotic Bob’s Yer Uncle, and a rare Squire/Brown attributed song from the Second Coming sessions. The backing track – heavy dub bass and subdued shots of fuzz guitar – was rescued from the deluge of material recorded during the troubled making of the album, to which Brown added a deeply sensual vocal and lyric. A fantastic and frustrating example of what could have been had Squire not taken control of the band.


John Breakell. He was the first person we interviewed for War and Peace. As with everyone, he got a transcript to read; correct, add to, delete, or abort.

In the very final stages of writing, John said he was unsure about contributing. I was prepared to follow his wishes. I was then asked to send him the sections of the book he featured in. I did. He said, yes, it was okay. It was important.

For the innocent, you can (and should) read about John here:

PT Barnum said many great things. I got this via Tony C: if you don’t promote something terrible happens… nothing.

It was my second visit to talk on XFM in a few days. This time with Gordon Smart, for his Smart On Sunday show (3/6/12). We recorded a 20-25 minutes interview and that was quickly edited down for the show (so quick I was still at the train station when it went out).

I liked the bit, obviously, where Gordon calls the book ‘brilliant’… and where he asks: “You must have been putting the book together, forensically, for a long period. When did the process start?”

I don’t mind taking Hunter’s name in vain. Never the Wolfe. So I said: “The reviews have started coming in and forensic has been mentioned a few times… I feel like a doctor… and I only know one other doctor of journalism.”

He said: “It’s not me.”

That made me laugh.

“You never know, could be… you’re still young,” I said.

That made him laugh.

I’m still sharpening the pencil. The Stones 64-67. Woodstock. And, of course, the Pistols. How to answer these questions about the book being ‘no holds-barred’? Edgy? I tried to explain it, to Gordon, like this… the Pistols lived on a knife-edge, and the Roses were on a level above that… so it was never going to be… One Direction. War and Peace is written with love and respect. The way the Roses operated was key and compliment to why so many people loved them. They took on everyone and never sold out (or tried to flog a dead horse). Everything was pure. White hot. So if the book is, let’s say, exciting; that’s not me – that’s the band.

I couldn’t find the words (on air) to say where exactly that was; the level above the knife-edge – where the Roses were. This bit was cut from the six minutes that went out. I figured it out later: Phillipe Petit.

And, that golden era of the Stones? In image, aura and sound… there were no words. I actually just made sort of excitable sounds… (Gordon’s people cut that too). So, just the Pistols and Stones as touchstones (maybe The Beach Boys too?). And then it’s beyond bands…


Penguin (Australia) have put up the full 6,000 word prologue to War And Peace on their website.

If anyone is thinking of copying and pasting the prologue to another hemisphere, all quotes attributed to Brown/Squire/Mani & Reni are carefully noted, dated and credited in War And Peace. Many of the Brown quotes in the prologue came from a 1990 interview I did with him as part of my cover story on Spike Island for The Face. The prologue covers Spike Island.

As well as a long and interesting ‘book of the week’ review in The Times, a short extract from War And Peace has gone up on The Arts Desk website today.

Annabel chose it for them some time ago. I think, no fault of hers, she might have to choose another… Jones, is Phil, Spike Island promoter; Evans, is, of course, Gareth; and Cummins, is Matthew – Evans’s business partner and The Stone Roses co-manager (RIP).

The book is temporarily out of stock (sold out) on Amazon.  ‘Annoying, yes, but a good sign,’ Joel said. More on the way…

The Boy Looked At Johnny

Do you remember we were going to rewrite that?

I thought about it after Sam had gone. That was the crux of it. I’m sure she’ll relay the rest of my passion. I’d been avoiding her to be honest. I never did ask how she got my number? I guess that’s why she’s the go-to girl. She’s cute as hell. You couldn’t wish for the film research to be in a safer pair of hands. And she’s got the book now…

So has Kevin Cummins. He tweeted his support and appreciation. I guess he’s still in a good mood since winning the title. If I knew how to work it, I’d guide him to the flares piece on the Manchester Confidential site, specifically Howard’s bit about the photo he called the Madchester version of the Sgt. Pepper’s cover…

That’s Howard Jones: the Roses manager 1984 – 1986. Before that he was the Hacienda manager and a director at Factory Records. He has also got the book. His  love for the band was still evident when I interviewed him for a second time while he counted down the hours to the men’s singles’ Wimbledon final: tennis being his great passion. He said they had played She Bangs The Drums as a prelude to the women’s singles’ final and that ‘it didn’t get much better than that’.

I was unsure how he’d react to the finished work. Other interviewees had criticised him in the book for his self-aggrandization. John Breakell is even quoted, lovingly, as saying he was ‘full of shit’. But everyone acknowledged he did more for the band in their early days than anyone else: the first true believer.

He said: “Wow, at last, the story laid bare. A brilliant read with the best research I’ve seen since Kerouac: a Biography by Ann Charters.” I believe that’s an ace.

The interview Q did with me is now online. I’m glad they credited Gered Mankowitz, the Stones photographer. Andrew, of course, set that up.

The link is dead. It went like this:

When did you first decide to write a book about The Stone Roses and why?

It came as a surprise. After Andrew Loog Oldham I believed I would never write another rock book as that was the last great rock n roll story untold. I spent 10 years working closely with him – the Rolling Stones Svengali, manager and producer – on the books Stoned and 2Stoned – after tracking him down in 1991 in Bogota, Colombia where he’d been a recluse for 20 years. Nik Cohn described him as the ‘the most flash personality that British pop has ever had, the most anarchic and obsessive and imaginative hustler of all’. Also, in image, sound and aura, not many could hold a candle to those golden Stones years 1964–1967 he presided over. The Shadows do it for me, and The Four Seasons… but not sincerely. And if you’re going to spend years on a book, it has to be sincere. The Pistols had been done, and I wasn’t there anyway – too young, and, indicative of the changing times, The Libertines story (I watched intrigued from the sidelines, mainly for Doherty) had been told in book form repeatedly. To be honest, I went bananas in South America with Loog Oldham; it took a long time to appreciate what I’d done and to recover. Drugs don’t help. Then once they’re out of your life, kids come in… and rock n roll was so terrible for the past 20 years anyway, you didn’t miss much. Then the kids need providing for. So clean, and with Stoned/2Stoned as a calling card, I took aim. I thought, and it wasn’t just me thinking this, that nothing satisfying had been written about the Roses and every great rock band deserves one great book, an England’s Dreaming, Hammer of the Gods or The True Adventures of… I wanted to do something that matched what the band had meant to me, and a generation, and would reverberate still. The aim is always to provide a literary equivalent of the band, as high as they go, so must you. The Roses had always been more than a band to me, an inspiration since Blackpool in 1989; and they had kick-started my career. I’ll admit I was quite happy to put my life in their hands and, often to my own detriment, tried to keep the Roses attitude as a moral compass. Basically, the work with Andrew Loog Oldham and to a lesser extent, Don Arden (RIP, the ‘most feared man in music business history’, who I spent much time with working on his book), had shown me how to do it, and required such fortitude and guile, I finally felt man enough to take it on. This, being the Roses, you knew it would be an almost impossible ask. I always knew I was the perfect fit, and you just jump in… even if you don’t pull it off, then at least you know you’re going to enjoy the homework…

You initially approached Reni about collaborating on a book, was he receptive to the idea? What was he like to deal with? 

That’s right. I began chasing Reni, via his manager John Nuttall, in 2008. I loved the fact he was so reclusive, and had not spoken to the press since quitting the band in 1995. It was a challenge. And because John and Ian had spent so many years trading insults, I felt his silence carried great dignity and mystery – preserving the Roses uniqueness. So, a biography about Reni was actually the initial idea. Nuttall told me Reni said ‘no’ to all requests, but that no one had put the idea of a book to him before. Reni was intrigued enough to request copies of Stoned and 2Stoned. Although he appreciated those works, and saw potential, the stumbling block, I later learned, was the fact Reni didn’t want to talk about his family and early life… It took a further two years of intermittent requests, and some nudging from Nuttall, before Reni final acquiesced – but only because the book now being talked about would be a broader work on the Roses and incorporate the voices of everyone involved in the story. Reni was a joy and an inspiration to work with. He never put a foot wrong. His way of life really chimed, and was one I greatly admired. My one regret is that I never got to see the art he’d spent many years working on. My favourite Reni moments were: “I’m not answering all those questions”, and when he added a splatter of new names to the list of interviewees: David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Ian McCulloch, Iggy Pop, Stewart Copeland and Buster Bloodvessel… Oh, and, of course, finally, his: ‘Maybe we can wait a year’.

Why hadn’t he spoken about the band after its split?

I imagine he had in private – but just not to the press. I mean, why hadn’t he released any music since the split? He was the drummer of his generation, one of the greatest drummers of all time…. as Ian said, ‘He would fill the Manchester Apollo if he just set up his drum kit in there and played’. It was part distrust of the media but more just maturity and good grace. It was Reni who said about Roses’ press articles, in 1989: “No-one can ever get the right impression from a picture and a 1,000 words. You can’t compress the whole of four people into that.” He was, and is, also hugely protective of his private, family life. It’s the most difficult thing to do, to have it all and then walk away, but, actually, by saying nothing, you could say he said everything. He had achieved a rare perfection with the Roses and he never sullied that.

What was the reaction of those around the Roses camp to you doing a book? What sort of people in the band’s world did you speak to?

Many were relieved that finally someone was making the effort to tell the true story. The only rebuttal we got was from their tour manager, Steve ‘Adge’ Atherton, who had long planned to write a book and didn’t want to give away his anecdotes. Fair enough. There was sometimes a degree of caginess – from mainly the Mancunians – but having Reni on board in the initial period tended to break the ice. During the band’s career, beside Reni, there had been ten musicians in the band. I spoke with six of them… usually in interviews lasting all day – hugely rewarding. The initial list we drew up totalled around 120 people, and we got to about 80 of them. This really is their book. The key was to use all the fresh information one person supplied to get a better degree of participation, or revive enthusiasm, from the next and so it progressed. Howard Jones, their first manager, was superb. John Leckie gave a great deal of himself. Paul Schroeder gave himself afresh. Geno Washington is still a star. Phil Saxe, the Mondays first manager, is a flared genius. I could go on… By spending so long interviewing people, it quickly transpired that there were many half-truths and mistakes in what had been put out in print about the band. John Kennedy, the band’s lawyer, was a revelation and a cornerstone. A real breakthrough was when I finally got inside America. The key executives who worked on the band over there, first at Jive/Zomba and then Geffen, added a layer of previously unseen depth. The President of the latter label, Eddie Rosenblatt, was a true gent. And the band’s American managers, Greg Lewerke and Doug Goldstein, were most forthcoming…

You had a few dealings with the band manager Gareth Evans when putting the book together, how did that go?

It’s no secret that Reni, of all in the band, most disliked Evans. And Evans was the one person he didn’t want me to speak to. I, however, secretly hoped I might sneak him in, and spent much time tracking him down. There were post-Roses incidents in Gareth’s life, concerning him and the Roses co-manager Matthew Cummins, I found deeply disconcerting… Dougie James, a legend in Manchester, gave me some deep down and dirty material on Evans. Almost everyone I spoke to had an anecdote about him (much was unprintable). Overall, I couldn’t help but like him. I wanted to give him a fair role in the book, and explain how he aided and abetted the Roses. Obviously he made mistakes too… and I didn’t shy from that. I decided to rest when I finally tracked down Sue Dean, a well-known face on the 80s Manchester scene, and Gareth’s girlfriend during those golden Roses years. She was still in touch with him. The thing was, she said: “He is his own worst enemy. You won’t get a rational perspective now from Gareth, the absolute truth and the media version of Gareth is so intertwined … it is now total mythology as to what happened, it’s crazy. But he never tried to buy a Lear Jet…” The jet was another story to add to many crazed Gareth stories. She said, even now, Gareth would stroll in the door and believe he should still be managing the comeback… could make it better, bigger. I said a previous interviewee had remarked they always felt he was capable of pulling a gun at any moment. Dean laughed. “He would love that,” she said. Obviously I am slightly biased toward managers but it is not hard to see good in Gareth…

Your book is called War & Peace, why do you think there is so much conflict around the band?

 I chose the title, with a nod to Tolstoy, after the first draft of the book came in at around 250,000 words… It was nabbed from a Squire one liner: When asked what Elephant Stone was about, he said: ‘Love and Death. War and Peace. Morecambe and Wise’. I actually felt it fitted with the band’s career. The first version of the Roses, 83-86ish, they were angry and at war with the world, and then after that they brought the peace – and that cycle seemed to repeat itself to present. The conflict was born of many things. I’ve lived in Manchester for the past ten years, and you develop a pretty thick skin, the default setting seems to be taking the piss mercilessly and as close to the bone as possible. They were a ruthless, passionate band, and if you didn’t quite fit into their vision then they wouldn’t hold back. They always argued a lot – that’s true – but I think there was more chaos than conflict. After the split, and for the past 15 years, it’s pretty clear to see all that conflict was born of love. They were one-offs, and still are. Their natural waywardness, contrariness, is one of their most beguiling features… and now, older, wiser, and with strong management (for the first time) I expect more peace than war… but they will always have that Pistols war-like undercurrent. Anything could happen.

When you started working on the book together, rumours of a reunion started again, did Reni ever believe or give you any indication it was likely? 

 When we started in seriousness, in early 2011, there was zero chance of a reunion. For the past five years Ian, mainly, had strongly decreed the notion, as the other three made their interest known. The final nail in the coffin came in 2009 when Squire switched horses and made his “I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses” artwork. Early on I heard about Ian and John meeting for the first time in 15 years at Mani’s mum’s funeral. But despite, a month later, The Sun running the story as evidence a reunion was up and away, this was definitely not the case. In August 2011 Reni sat down for a meal with Ian, the first time they had met in years. I also heard stories of Mani and his wife babysitting Squire’s kids… I presumed this was good news for the book. Yes, looking back, when I was asked how quickly I could turn the book around (initially we had been working toward an October 2012 publication date) that was a clue. In September, when I was told that all four were down in London meeting with promoter Simon Moran… I put the two and two together. In the summer Reni had been moving house and I think he was the most skeptical that the band could pull it off. Physically, playing drums is the most challenging aspect of the reunion, and Reni didn’t want to play in any way lesser than he had in his prime. The challenge interested him but I think initially he had serious doubts about the musical worth of reforming… doubts, I know, that are now gone.

Apparently your collaboration with Reni was an issue between the members of the band when the reunion was discussed, why? What’s their view/ status of the book now?   

 Bloody hell. What a nightmare. The band reforming was the best and worst for the book… there had never been any guarantees from Ian and John they would contribute. Mani had said he would, and would DJ at the book launch. The position, as I understood it, was that Reni was talking with them about the book and they were okay about it. The decision was to interview everyone and then finally take some specifics to Ian and John, rather than waste their time with questions such as what was Spike Island like… just try and get some fresh stuff out both of them, as they’d both spilt their guts to the press over a number of years. What happened was a small article went in Bookseller, a publishing trade mag, about the book, misrepresenting it as ‘fully authorized by the band’ and asserting I’d spent 400 hours interviewing the band! That snowballed, ending up as a two-page news piece in the Independent – who saw the book as a sign of an imminent ‘third coming’. This is just a couple of weeks before the press conference. So Reni walks into the band’s first rehearsal and they’re sat there reading this… that was the initial misunderstanding, and despite efforts, it was something that could never be patched up. Ian thought I was just trying to cash in. This argument rumbled on in the background for some time… the only thing they argued about apparently. Wisely, in the end, Reni, dropped the subject… and I had a big decision to make. I did briefly speak with Ian, but he left me in no doubt he was firmly against the book. What am I hearing now? Shane Meadows’ researchers have been in touch having heard great things about the book… all the contributors have expressed support. I guess, ideally Ian would burn the book on stage, but I think they’re too busy to give it too much thought. Ultimately I hope Ian comes round and sees Reni started something worthwhile… I think also maybe Ian suspected I was trying to do an Albert Goldman job on him. Clealry not: the work pays my respects, leaves plenty of room for him, or any of the band, to tell their own story… and we move on.

& on…

Annabel chose the extract below from the book. The gig is October 1984. Couzens is Andy, Roses guitarist 1983 – 1986. And Garner is Pete, Roses bassist 1983 – 1987.

I was back at The Electric Circus and The Ritz (both in New York) yesterday. They were two of the greatest clubs – both defining their era. Jerry’s another ace. Looking forward to going back again in July.

The fisherman

We sent Phil Saxe a copy of the book but I neglected to tell him he would star in the Man Con flares piece… so I sent him a quick e-mail. Love it, he said. Another fashion guru, Sir Paul Smith, mailed Joel the other day to declare himself a fan of the book – and promised to  blog about it at Joel was also impressed when Pete Townshend (who I approached for War and Peace having interviewed him for Stoned) expressed his eagerness to read it.

Joel said John Harris was ‘raving’ about the book on BBC 6 Music this past Friday on the Steve Lamacq show 25/05/2012.

It starts about 45 mins in.

I had already heard he was doing a page review of it for The Word magazine. I was happy with that because he knows his onions, and knows the band… so a fair trail.

I wonder if he recalls that night in Islington, at the Powerhaus? He was DJing, or at least in the DJ booth. He was showing me a rare preview copy of Second Coming that he had to review for NME. I remember him chasing after me as I headed for the door…  ‘but I’ve got to review it for NME!’ I lost my nerve and handed it back. The only other time I met him was at Brixton Academy on the Second Coming tour: maybe the second night? I was there for both. I was wearing the complete Stone Island fisherman’s outfit that Barnzley gave me. This was some amazing Italian waterproof material with a heavy detachable fleece-like lining – trousers and coat both. It was hot, sweaty, and intense that night. I kept it all done up. John had written the notes for the official tour programme on sale.

Harris is the guest writer, for what is billed as a celebration of the written word on the Lamacq show. He says: “I’ve just finished a very good book actually which I was reviewing for Word magazine which is a new history of The Stone Roses by a fella called Simon Spence who you, I, and other people, will know better as Simon Dudfield, he used to write for the NME and was in a long-forgotten group called Fabulous…”

Lamacq registers both names.

Harris continues: “It’s a very forensic, detailed and beautifully researched history of The Stone Roses. As we all know, although only two albums have so far come out of that story, it is quite an amazing story…”

Lamacq: “I wouldn’t have thought there was much more to say about them?”

Harris: “Oh there is, there’s a huge sort of fog hanging over the Second Coming period when they disappeared. He’s cleared a lot of that away and there’s a lot of stuff in it there I had no idea about. It is full of new stuff. He started it in collaboration with Reni and when the group got back together he withdrew his co-operation but it got him off to a good start and you can tell…”

Q-Magazine cover of new issue Q312

Q-Magazine’s brand new issue Q312 will be on newsstands from Tuesday (29 May), but have a peek at the cover (below) now.

Cover feature on The Stone Roses’ untold story was written by Simon Spence the author of forthcoming biography The Stone Roses – War And Peace (out 7 June) and contains unique stories, insights and interviews as he traces the band from their beginnings to their current resurrection.

Manchester Confidential Flares

I spent the morning being interviewed for the Manchester Confidential website, signing books, and being persuaded to pose for a cheesy pic.

After the mid-morning interview, John Nuttall bumped into Mani and his wife in town and went for a friendly drink. I don’t know what I was more excited about: the news of the show that evening, or the kind words from Mani. Maybe I can collate all the truly terrible things people said about Gareth. The stuff I didn’t even try and get past the lawyers and the bits the lawyers did remove, and do a limited edition of one. It would certainly include much of the eye-watering interview with the elegant soul man Dougie James…

The gig, for me, was a delicious amuse-bouche for Heaton Park. The Roses in a near Zen-like frame of mind– and the hot streak I’d earlier in the day been predicting starting at a canter. The BBC didn’t think so: once, twice, three times a lady… frantic with panic to say my date with them must now be brought forward: the Heaton Park shows suddenly declared not newsworthy.

A quarter of a million people in Manchester for what could potentially be an event as long and fondly remembered as Woodstock? As opposed to what exactly? I didn’t get an answer. But next Annabel was on the phone and she’d been the one saying how many books an appearance on the BBC would sell. I said it was just a storm in a teacup (and I could hear her gasp).

My hair wasn’t right (see the Manchester Confidential pic for evidence) and I’d just stuttered and sweated through a Sunday Times interview the day before. The Manchester Confidential interview had gone better (with Nuttall beside me), and followed a chance to answer some good questions from Q (for their website) via e-mail. But I had not hit anything like the Tom Wolfe stride I aspired to – and if you study him on YouTube you can see him working that part of the act too…

It was 1995. I was standing on a platform at King’s Cross station in London, waiting for a train to take me to Bridlington to see the Roses first gig in the UK in over five years.

Also on the platform was a corpulent press pack of 20 journalists (of which I was not part but whom – for reasons too long to go into here – viewed me with either suspicion or disdain). I was alone. Outnumbered. Beaten. And then this kid I’d never met before appeared by my side (this is not a dream, by the way) and I was suddenly invincible, many thousand strong. He looked like a young Mark E and didn’t have a ticket for the gig or the train but he was already there. He shone. And standing with him, so did I. Let them have their column inches; we shared something far greater, an adventure that will be in my heart forevermore – one that even Don Arden couldn’t rip out.

I’ve been told the anti-camera policy at the gig has caused a minor stink online. Social media is not my natural habitat, which is why Keith Jobling at The Boot Room is now handling me with care. I did think it odd, though, to see Mani and John standing on the wrong side of the stage. Reni’s drum kit was out of sight.

Q should be in Co-op near you now: an abridged version of some of the material in the book with some explanation as to how War and Peace came to be.

Paul said the Q website should put up the Q&A in a day or two. I think it explains the process of the book and my rationale more clearly. E-mailing the answers allowed me a degree of control I was more comfortable with than the all I surrendered to The Sunday Times. And while Dan did me no wrong, it was still a shock to read. You sound hardcore, my wife said. Close to the bone, but good, said Joel. Andrew Loog Oldham was both angry and pleased, and, of course, the great Salford-born legend, Don Arden, is dead. I saw some spurious bit of the article from the Times piece is fizzing about online.

I spoke with Dennis Morris, whose patronage of the book means a great deal to me, and he’s right; we’re both in the middle of something now. Best we let the PRs deal with it.

So don’t believe everything you read in the coming weeks, or expect me to (a review sneaked out early and called the book a ‘genuine masterpiece’).

All I can control is the written word: and in this instance you can judge a book by its cover (by Dennis). I controlled some more written word today: Manchester Confidential has started to run the extracts we agreed on, utilising the hundreds of thousands of words we couldn’t fit in War and Peace.



It started with a text

It started with a text (I’m giving away free song titles now) my wife received saying they had been talking about the book on the radio, on BBC 6 Music. We missed the show and I was naturally eager to find out if what had been said was bad or good. We had been laying plans… but this was the first exposure. When the Nemone show went up on iPlayer later that day, I learned War and Peace had been hailed as BBC 6 Music ‘Book of the Month’. The review, by critic Alex Heminsley, on the Culture Club part of the show, was good (see Reviews).