The band's classic line-up consisted of Ian Brown (vocals), John Squire (guitar), Gary "Mani" Mounfield (bass) & Alan "Reni" Wren (drums). Their seminal, self-titled debut, released in 1989, has sold over 1.2 million units, to date, and consistently ranks in critics best-of-all-time lists. For those of us old enough to remember, it represented the ethos of early 90s UK counterculture.
Squire's Jackson Pollock inspired artwork, Brown's singular on-stage confidence, along with the baggy jeans and Reni's bucket hat became trademarks of the group and their followers. Their seeming indifference to, and reluctance to engage with the media, created a seemingly impenetrable air of mystique around the four that had fans (my- much younger -self included) subscribing to music mags and scouring the radio waves for clips of interviews and snippets of information.
The debut record was quickly followed by the double A-Side: Fools Gold/What the World is Waiting For, with Fools Gold becoming a fans' favourite and an instantly recognisable & remixable dancefloor classic.
After signing with US giant Geffen, the band spent the following years in legal dispute with the Silvertone label, who refused to release them from their contract. A situation that culminated in the band (allegedly) throwing paint over the front of the Silvertone offices and contributed to the five year gap between their first and second albums.
The highly anticipated Second Coming, when it did finally arrive in December '94, was met with equal enthusiasm and disappointment. Something of a musical departure for the band, the record was more blues-rock guitar focussed and deemed a bit ordinary by the majority of the music press. I'd still personally recommend it for tracks like Beggin' You, Straight to the Man & the stand-out single Love Spreads, but it definitely hasn't stood the test of time as a cohesive body of work.
The release of the second record signalled the beginning of the end for the Roses. Reni quit the band 3 months later after a disagreement with Brown, Squire followed in April '95, citing widening social and musical differences.
Replacements were drafted and shows were booked, but the writing was on the wall. Brown and Mani disbanded the group in October '96.
Ian Brown went on to have a successful solo career, releasing seven records in total. Mani joined Scottish legends primal Scream and became a double badass fucking boss. John Squire formed The Seahorses, they disbanded after one record and Squire went on to make a couple of solo albums. Reni formed a band called The Rub, they didn't end up releasing much. You can find some clips of their stuff online, which, despite the poor sound quality, is interesting. Shame they never got going.
The Roses reformed in 2011 and, although nothing materialised in terms of new music (besides a couple of instantly forgettable tracks), they played a bunch of successful shows, including World & European tours before officially disbanding again in 2019.
"Don't be sad that it's over, be happy that it happened" - Ian Brown
Words to live by.