CULTURE

They gave him no chance, but he’s still going strong

Following the breakup of the Stone Roses, the Manchester pop-rock band that shot to fame in the late 1980s for an ephemeral yet resounding spell, frontman Ian Brown, music pundits had agreed, stood the smallest chance of carrying on. The brilliant musicianship of guitarist-songwriter John Squire, it was predicted, would lead him to a great career, and guitarist Mani was also seen as a musician with prospects. Over a decade later, Brown, who returns to Greece for two shows this week – at Thessaloniki’s Mylos Club on Friday and Club 22 in Athens the following evening – has proved them wrong. He stands as the only ex-Stone Roses member able to boast an ongoing musical course. To date, the 42-year-old has released four solid self-penned albums, and, just recently, put out a greatest hits compilation. Brown likes to recite a strange story about his initial involvement with music, a totally accidental move, according to the singer. He started thinking about it back in 1984 after soul legend Geno Washington walked into a 21st birthday party and told Brown, a complete stranger, that he was a star who needed to get active right away. The following day Brown called Squire, who had pestered him for years about co-forming a band, and said he was ready. That was the beginning of the band’s relatively brief but explosive run. The Stone Roses spent five years on the dole, rehearsing, writing and recording, before releasing their legendary debut album. A disappointing second release followed, and the band fell apart in the mid-’90s. Few bands have been so short-lived yet held in such high regard. Brown says that he has lost touch with Squire, but admits knowing where his former bandmate lives. «I’ve not spoken to him since he quit the group on the phone in 1996. It’s nine-and-a-half years,» the singer told British daily The Guardian in a recent interview. «It’s down to him to phone me, isn’t it? He left me to sink or swim, simple as that. He didn’t give a f***. He could have phoned me a month after that, ‘howyadoin?’ He could have phoned me a year after that, or anything, and he never did. I’ve still got the same phone number I had then. If a band is a marriage and your girl phones you up and says, ‘I don’t want to see you any more,’ why would you phone her and say, ‘I want to see you.’ It would be up to her to phone you and go, ‘Are you keeping OK?’ I’ve not heard a dickie bird.» Though not quite a musician at the time of his band’s split, the singer, in true ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll tradition, managed to somehow develop an ability to play a variety of instruments, rudimentally, for an interesting debut solo album. To the surprise of pundits, fans, and possibly his former bandmates, Brown has carried on. Besides culling work from his solo career’s output, Brown has decided, for the first time, also to perform old Stone Roses material on his current tour.