Why did the second Stone Roses album take so long to make?

7 January 2024, 16:03

The Stone Roses at the time of their debut album: Reni, Mani, Ian Brown and John Squire
The Stone Roses at the time of their debut album: Reni, Mani, Ian Brown and John Squire. Picture: Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty Images

There was a gap of over five years between The Stone Roses' 1989 debut and the follow-up, The Second Coming, in 1994. What were the band doing in all that time?

By Martin O'Gorman

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On 9 June 1990, The Stone Roses took to the stage at Glasgow Green to perform in front of 10,00 people. They were at the height of their powers. The show followed the high-profile gig at Spike Island in Widnes at the end of May and came weeks before the release of their new single, One Love.

Little did they know that it would be the last gig that Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni would play in front of an audience for five years.

Why did The Stone Roses go on hiatus, just as the country's love affair with them was at its height? Why did they take five years to follow-up their classic self-titled debut album? The story begins back ar Glasgow Green...

  1. 9 June 1990 - The Stone Roses play Glasgow Green

    Stone Roses I Wanna Be Adored - Live in Glasgow Green 09/06/1990

    Glasgow Green took place two weeks after the landmark Spike Island gig and became the final Stone Roses show for five years. 10,000 people paid £14 each to cram into a big top at the part in Glasgow city centre to hear the following anthems:

    The Stone Roses - Glasgow Green 9 June 1990 setlist

    I Wanna Be Adored
    Elephant Stone
    She Bangs The Drums
    Shoot You Down
    One Love
    Sally Cinnamon
    (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
    Standing Here
    Fools Gold
    Where Angels Play
    Don't Stop
    Made of Stone
    Elizabeth My Dear
    I Am the Resurrection

  2. 2 July 1990 - The Stone Roses release One Love

    The Stone Roses - One Love (Official Video)

    The Roses had been recording sporadically during the early months of 1990, but when their producer John Leckie arrived at the studio, he found the band had only written two songs - and he wasn't impressed with either of them. Setting back to work, it took around three months to write and record the two sides of the next Stone Roses single: One Love and Something's Burning. It's not a million miles away from the baggy shuffle of Fool's Gold, but the band's stock was so high at the time that the single made it to Number 4 in the charts. It'd be another four and half-years before the world would hear any new material from the Roses.

    Mani and Ian Brown appear at Wolverhampton Magistrates after trashing their old label FM Revolver's offices with - what else? - paint
    Mani and Ian Brown appear at Wolverhampton Magistrates after trashing their old label FM Revolver's offices with - what else? - paint. Picture: Alamy Stock Photo
  3. 4 March 1991 - Silvertone file an injunction against the Stone Roses

    After the stellar success of the 1990 shows, the Roses set to work on their second album in earnest. However, rehearsals in Wales in January 1991 didn't produce any usable material, while the band's manager Gareth Evans started to look for a bigger and better record contract that befitted the huge stars he had on his hands. Silvertone, who the Roses had signed with in 1988, took legal steps to prevent the band from walking. This was to be the start of a protracted legal battle.

    Reni rehearsing with The Stone Roses in 1994
    Reni rehearsing with The Stone Roses in 1994. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
  4. Late March 1991 - The Stone Roses appear in court

    The band went through the legal process to have Silvertone's legal injunction lifted. Ian Brown told Melody Maker: "Silvertone have got us for 35 years - we'd have only got ten for armed robbery."

    Silvertone disputed this and claimed that they just wanted to see the band make another record. However, the Roses' solicitor, John Kennedy, said that the band had signed "Undoubtedly one of the worst contracts I'd ever seen".

    Brown said at the time: "It was only when we became successful in their terms that they wanted to sort out a decent contract. We were angry with the company because we considered them to be slow. They could not understand our potential."

    One label who could see the potential of The Stone Roses was the American-owned Geffen imprint, who were rumoured to be offering the band a huge sum.

    The Stone Roses: Reni, John Squire, Ian Brown, Mani
    The Stone Roses: Reni, John Squire, Ian Brown, Mani. Picture: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
  5. May 1991 - The Stone Roses win their case against Silvertone

    Geffen told the band that they would help pay their court costs. But, for John Squire, it felt for a time like the Silvertone injunction would stop The Stone Roses in their tracks. He recalled in 1993: "I remember looking at the very real prsopect of never making another record and just doing gigs. We all agreed that if we couldn't get out of the deal, we were prepared to take it that far."

    Solicitor John Kennedy described the situation: "The worst case scenario was that if they didn't win, they'd be forced to work with Zomba [Silvertone's parent company] again. That's a a bit like a divorce court telling a couple they have to go back and live together again."

    But in May of 1991, the law came down in favour of The Stone Roses. The deal with Silvertone was dissolved, leaving the label to try and gain some money back from the court costs by re-releases old Roses material in new ways.

    Now free from their old label, the band signed with Geffen, giving each member a reported £125,000. Mani told Mojo magazine: "We all went to the south of France and hired a helicopter and stayed in £500-a-night hotels for a few weeks. We went, ‘Right, let’s f**k off and spend some money’."

    Mani of The Stone Roses rehearsing in Manchester in 1994
    Mani of The Stone Roses rehearsing in Manchester in 1994. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

    One repercussion of the Silvertone case was that the band became disenchanted with their manager Gareth Evans. Stories such as him withholding a bonus worth £40,000 to each member didn't go down well with the musicians. Squire recalled in 1997: "Things came out in the first court case that lost us any faith we still had in the manager, so he went. And the result of the case was us signing with Geffen. So we ended up with no manager, pots of money and three kids."

  6. March 1992 - recording on the second Stone Roses album resumes

    Sessions for what would become The Second Coming became prolonged and tortuous. John Squire told The Guardian in 2002: "When my daughter Janie came along, we had to go away to write, because we couldn't get enough time together on our own. We went to the Lakes, Scotland. But very little came from those trips. The partnership was drying up."

    John Squire Performing At The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, Britain - 1995
    John Squire Performing At The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, Britain - 1995. Picture: Brian Rasic/Getty Images
  7. January 1993 - sessions continue

    The new year saw the Roses book the studio Square One in Bury for a year - according to Andrew Perry in The Telegraph in 2017, the results were songs written by Squire with lyrics that Ian Brown felt uncomfortable singing.

  8. July 1993 - John Leckie quits the project

    After masterminding the successful debut album and working on One Love, the veteran producer abandoned the band in the summer of 1993. "That period was a disaster,” he told Mojo. “By the time we got to the studio, it would be 10 or 11 o’clock at night. There were always problems: power cuts, electrical things, people disappearing." The band booked Rockfield Studios in Wales for six weeks, and told Leckie they'd be there the following Monday. They turned up on the Wednesday. This prompted Leckie to quit and his place was taken by first Paul Schroeder, then Simon Dawson.

    Leckie later told The Quietus: "They'd changed from being a unit. That bond didn't exist between them." The work at Rockfield dragged on for another 14 months and cost an estimated £250,000.

  9. 21 November 1994 - The Stone Roses release Love Spreads

    The Stone Roses - Love Spreads

    4 years, 4 months and 19 days after the release of One Love, the world was able to get their hands on a new Stone Roses single. With Nirvana defunct following the tragic suicide of Kurt Cobain that April, the Roses were now Geffen's big alternative rock prospect and exerted pressure on the band to complete the album. The song was accompanied by a very lo-fi video, but it did the trick and the single crashed into the UK charts at No 4 - only Elton John, Pavrotti's Nessun Dorma and Craig "Henry off Neighbours" McLachlan came between the Manchester band and chart supremacy.

  10. 5 December 1994 - The Stone Roses release The Second Coming

    The album went straight into the UK charts at Number 4 - this would be its highest chart position. To date, it's the final Stone Roses album - despite two new tracks emerging when the band reunited in 2012, it looks like it's all over.

    The Stone Roses - The Second Coming album cover
    The Stone Roses - The Second Coming album cover. Picture: Press

Quotes from Brown, Squire and John Kennedy are taken from The Stone Roses Talking by Brian Chapman, 2011

Other sources:

The ultimate difficult second album: how The Stone Roses went from Britain’s best band to rock’s greatest disaster story; Andrew Perry, The Telegraph, 17 June 2017