Remember When The Stone Roses Blew A Fuse At The BBC?

Great Moments In Rock ’N’ Roll: Ian Brown accuses the esteemed corporation of being “AMATEURS” when a live version of Made In Stone goes belly up.

The Stone Roses on The Late Show

Picture the scene. It’s Tuesday, 21 November, 1989. The previous weekend, The Stone Roses played a huge show at London’s Alexandra Palace. Their latest single, the mammoth double-A side of Fool’s Gold and What The World Is Waiting For had been out a week.

The Stone Roses - Fool's Gold album cover

The band were due to perform their hit on Top Of The Pops that Thursday, with fellow Manchester band Happy Mondays. Madchester had taken over the charts. Finally! The world was all set to embrace indie!

So, when it was announced that the Roses would be performing live on BBC 2’s The Late Show, a thousand VHS video recorders were warmed up and set to pause, ready to record this momentous moment in Manchester’s long and varied musical history.

 The Stone Roses on The Late Show

A typically BBC2-style mix of art and culture, 1989 had seen The Late Show play host to bands like The La’s, the Pixies and 808 State, but this was the cream of the crop. Previously, the Roses had only appeared on regional TV shows in the North West, or tucked away in niche music programmes. This was going to be A MOMENT.

Rather than play one of the new tracks, the band chose to play Made Of Stone, taken from their acclaimed debut LP and released as a single earlier in the year. It was already a massive anthem.

Those thousand VHS recorders start to roll as the band strides confidently into the song. But then this happens…

As Ian Brown leads them into the first chorus, all the instruments drop out. WTF? What’s happening? Have they ballsed it up on live TV?

Brown stops singing. Reni stops drumming and collapses into embarrassed giggles. There’s confusion. Brown paces up and down the studio floor, agitated.

Faced with “dead air”, the director unceremoniously thrust Late Show presenter Tracey MacLeod before the camera to fill in and link to the next bit of content. However, they unwisely decide to have her present to camera stood in front of the band. Oh dear.

 The Stone Roses on The Late Show

As MacLeod starts to apologise for the breakdown and begins her spiel into the next item, an annoyed Ian Brown is bellowing across the studio to the BBC technicians, trying to work out what went wrong.

Eventually, he gives up: “We’re wasting our time lads. Amateurs!”

The Beeb later claimed that the band had sneakily turned their amps up after rehearsals and the resulting racket had tripped a switch and cut the power to their instruments. Bad lads.

But it’s a brilliantly cringeworthy moment that only added to the Roses’ mystique. Rather than being grateful for getting their faces on TV, the mighty Stone Roses look down their noses at the monolith that is the BBC.

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