The End of the Roses?

The Daily Telegraph, April 1996

The news this week that John Squire has left the Stone Roses effectively spells the demise of the most influential British rock group of the past decade. Young upstarts such as Liam Gallagher from Oasis have made no secret of the influence the group‘s 1989 debut album had on them. At a time when rave culture seemed to have captured the hearts and minds of British youth, the street-sussed style and swaggering songs of the Roses pulled off the pop equivalent of reinventing the wheel: they made guitar music sound sexy again.

Notoriously, the group then took five years to record a follow-up, The Second Coming, a fatal mistake, as the old gods now seemed mortal. In the time they had been away, Blur, Oasis and a host of other chord-strumming kids walked through the door the Stone Roses had booted open and now they would have to live in their prodigies‘ shadows. To many kids now, the break up will seem as insignificant as Phil Collins‘ recent departure from Genesis.

There is no love lost between the members of the group. In a statement, Squire, who was the Roses‘ guitarist and principal songwriter, has said: ”I believe all concerned will benefit from a parting of the ways and I see this as the inevitable conclusion to the gradual social and musical separation we have undergone in the last few years.•

”We feel as cheated as anyone else,• the others have spat back. ”We‘re disgusted yet feeling stronger and more optimistic than ever.•

The split was perhaps inevitable. A year ago this week, the group‘s original drummer, Alan ”Reni• Wren, walked out. Squire and the singer Ian Brown, childhood friends, had not seen each other for four months until last week, when they met to try and settle affairs.

Brown now says he only listens to hip-hop and ragga, while Squire is a blues and Jimi Hendrix fan, which may account for their ”musical separation•. Squire had been keen to start on a new record, but since the Second Coming sessions, they hadn‘t been in the studio together with any new material.

Last year, on what was intended to be their comeback tour, the group proved they could still work wonders. When I saw them, Brown‘s voice was weak, but he‘d kept his hollow-cheeked cool intact, and Squire‘s guitar playing was breathtaking. But after the show, while Brown, the bassist Gary ”Mani• Mounfield and the two new stand-ins hit the bar, Squire headed off to his room alone. It seemed he knew the party was already over.

The group has stated that they intend to carry on. Suede, once touted as the next Stone Roses, have survived the departure of their inspirational guitarist Bernard Butler. But Squire was also the Stone Roses‘ main songwriter, and without him they need a replacement of the stature of Oasis‘ Noel Gallagher, the pupil now turned master, the sort of transfer coup which even Alex Ferguson couldn‘t pull off.

Squire has expressed his intention to found a new group himself. Here‘s hoping he can round one up before half a decade has rolled again.

Casper Llewellyn Smith, The Daily Telegraph, 17th April 1996