Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Reprint edition: April 2, 2013
Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 5.6 x 1 inches
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The Stone Roses
Do you live in the States and too embarrassed to admit not knowing who the Coachella headliners are? I've got great news for you, a new music biography book: STONE ROSES: WAR AND PEACE by Simon Spence was just released this week.…
When I started reading War and Peace, I quickly realized how very little I knew about the Stone Roses. Most of my recollections of the band were through the NME, Melody Maker, and Select Magazines, which does not really paint a picture of how it was back then.
I will vaguely re-tell The Stone Roses' story with a very broad stroke a little later, but first I wanted to point out what this book does right. I've read a lot of band biographies, mostly from the band or singer's perspective, so sometime you don't feel like you're getting the whole story. This book is written as if a reporter was telling the story through various interviews and quotes.
The other thing I liked is that it has preface of a "who's who" list in the Stone Roses' world. I've read biographies when in the middle of Chapter 7, I'm like "who is this person?" I never got confused reading War and Peace, every couple of paragraphs, whenever a "character" is introduced again, they mention why that person is important to The Stone Roses.
As for the story of the Roses, I'll just quickly touch on it for you. They started with two friends, John Squire and Ian Brown, from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys in 1979. The two, with drummer Si Wolstencroft would then form The Patrol. They eventually met up with Gary "Mani" Mounfield and Alan "Reni" Wren and changed the Patrol name to The Rose Roses.
The Stone Roses signed a bad contract with Gareth Evans and Matthew Cummins (who took in 33.3% of the Roses' gross profits) and eventually became the figurehead of Madchester. But during Madchester's white-hot domination of the music world (we're talking Charlatans, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, James) the Roses were tied up in courts when their label Jive/Zomba sued the band for breaking their contract. Why did you think it took so long between their debut album in 1989 and eventually Second Coming in 1994?
That's only part of the story, it seems that during the recording process of Second Coming that the band was falling apart. At this point, Geffen Records had signed the band (who resolved the court cases and ending their relationship with Evans and Jive/Zomba). What came out of the court proceedings was that Evans was a very greedy man.
Trying to promote the second album also proved to be difficult, since the band is now manager-less. Reni kept disappearing from rehearsals or promo video shoots, etc. When he's there, Squire was gone. Eventually Brown and Reni got in a dispute and Reni left the band. The band recruited another drummer Robbie Maddix, and, after cancelling two previous U.S. tours, the band, minus-Reni, would finally play eight U.S. dates in 1995. Shortly after, as history would have it, the band broke up after Squire left the band in October 1996.
Of course, that's not the end of the story. The book does briefly touch on all four band's whereabouts post-break up. The four were not connected until 2011 when Brown and Squire would meet face to face for the first time for the funeral of Mani's mother. That set a motion that would eventually lead to the Stone Roses' reformation.
It's a good read; there are a lot previously unknown details about the band. Most of this information is exclusive to this book, including some rather embarrassing young photographs of Ian Brown in the Patrol from 1987.
If you were to ask me "Why the Stone Roses broke up?" It's a little complicated, but the short answer is quoted by A&R man Roddy McKenn, "It was all about money."
I think Spence would like us to draw a different conclusion, that all four Stone Roses band members, John Squire, Ian Brown, Mani, and Reni, are very unique individuals with different ideas and personal growths issues... and that is what made them one of a kind as the Stone Roses.
If you ever wanted to know about the Stone Roses, then The Stone Roses: War and Peace (St Martin's Griffin) has the definitive story that you must read. Although it's not listed on the cover, I think the book is an "official" book as it can get. Once again, the four band members probably couldn't agree over endorsing the book or not.