A Star Is Born
On Saturday November 24th 1962 John Thomas Squire was born in Broadheath, Lancashire, and spent most of his early, and teenage life growing up on Sylvan Avenue, Sale (coincidentally the same street the Gibb brothers [of Bee-Gees fame] grew up on two decades earlier.
'I've vague memories of meeting him at his friend's house,' Squire recalled recently, talking about the ex-Stone Roses frontman. 'It was like an arranged marriage, a parental thing. The school catchment area had a line that went down the street. He was on one side, I was on the other, but eventually we went to the same secondary school. I didn't really get to know him until punk. He was somebody locally who was into the same music. We'd swap records and things. At the time it felt like an illicit underworld.'
Squire was definitely the more dogamatic of the two, being a fan of rebel rockers The Clash (he liked their painted trousers best) whereas Brown's musical preference leaned towards groups such as The Stranglers and The Jam. Ian was much rowdier, not quite one of the lads, but... 'It was definitely a case of opposites attract,' remembered John. 'He was more popular, yeah. I was happy to be a loner. I prefer it. We hung about for a short period, then when we started the band it became more permanent.'
The Patrol/English Rose
The Patrol lined up Brown (curiously, on Bass), Squire (inevitably, on lead guitar), Andy Cousens (vocals, guitar) and Simon Wolstencroft (on drums). They spent much of 1980 and '81 playing such salubrious nightspots as Hale Methodist Church and Sale Annexe. 'We did a Cockney Rejects cover,' Squire sheepishly confessed on 1995, 'called 'I'm not a fool".
Unsuprisingly, The Patrol were not long for this world. In '81, out of school, John and Ian both moved to Hulme, a notorious tenement estate in central Manchester which was rife with drugs and crime. No longer punks, John was to be seen sporting a Fred Perry casual look, and attended Manchester's Pips club, where different rooms would play Bowie, Roxy, oldies and Northern Soul.
After a short break, The Patrol changed their name to English Rose, but just as sadly, didn't even gig. Between 1982 and 1984 Squire contented himself by fiddling with his amps, guitar and canvas whilst earning a living making models for a children's tv production of Wind In The Willows.
The Stone Roses
Meanwhile, things weren't going well for Ian Brown. He had no job, no band, and was palpably unprepared for a life of crime. What could he do? Well, the time would come for bigger and better things; enter the hand of fate in the form of a dodgy promoter Ian met by chance over in Germany. 'Yeah, I was hitching around Europe and I met this promoter who said that he could get us some gigs in Sweden,' Brown told Melody Maker, in 1990. 'So obviously we jumped at the chance.'
Excited at the prospect of a free holiday, Brown returned to England and hastily regrouped the band. Out was Simon Wolstencroft, and in came Alan 'Reni' Wren, who joined through an ad. Next came Sweden. Rejecting the name The Angry Young Teddy Bears, the band adopted the similarly rough/smooth moniker The Stone Roses. Cousens was still in the band, but his hand was edging towards the exit button (and indeed he would be gone within 18 months). The Swedish gigs turned out to be a flop with only four people turning out for one of them (the reason being that the gigs had been advertised in the english music press, but not the Swedish!?!). Nevertheless, something was starting to come together, and the Roses popularity sky rocketed over the coming years, and as Andy Cousens left, Gary 'Mani' Mounfield entered. The superband was complete......
With the release of 'Elephant Stone' it was the world's first chance to see John Squire's Jackson Pollock inspired cover artwork. The first of many, and the signal that the Roses had arrived.
'I'm not really into white guitar bands,' Squire told Melody Maker. 'They're boring. We just listen to all the best stuff - Sex Pistols, Love, Parliament, and right now the 'Shaft' double LP and Adrian Sherwood.' The Roses were a rock band that rejected rock 'n' roll tradition, and Squire's blues-oriented guitar work shone through the heavy bass beats with a grace and style unique to modern rock. Wow!
At the tail end of the 1980's he, and the other Stone Roses narrowly escaped a prison sentence after causing criminal damage to their former record company's (Silvertone) grade two listed building. The preciding judge said he wasn't going to give them noteriety for their crime, and gave them six months to pay fines and court costs. The Roses saw it as a triumph over Silvertone, and left the courtroom as arrogantly as they had entered.