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, 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.
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.
… 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.
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.
Culture magazine THE SUNDAY TIMES 27.05.12
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
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.
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).
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, GQ.com 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…
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.
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.
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 www.paulsmith.co.uk. 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’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.
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 (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).