True Seven is our interview feature that provides a platform for you to tell us your music stories and become a vital part of the narrative of our new Midlands Musique range of t-shirts and art.
In this special ‘Free the Roses‘ edition of True Seven we caught up with legendary music journalist John Robb. Editor-in-Chief of Louder Than War and Stone Roses biographer, John is an accomplished musician in his own right and has toured the world with his bands Goldblade and The Membranes.
In March 1990 John was at the scene at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court along with photographer Richard Davis, covering the now infamous story of The Stone Roses criminal damage case for Sounds Magazine. We caught up with John for an intriguing, first-hand account of his memories of that day and the events surrounding the Stone Roses court case.
1. What are your memories of the actual day / court case in Wolverhampton?
It was a bitterly cold day and we got the train down from Manchester. I had phoned Sounds music paper, who I wrote for and were the main champion of the band from the start, having covered them from the first gig onwards. I took Richard Davies to do the photos as Ian Tilton was away and we went to the court room. There was a small clutch of fans outside and we chatted before going in. The court was medium sized and packed – lot of people in the public gallery – the band walked in decked out in baggy finery and were giving off an air of naughty kids at school! Plenty of smirking! Gareth Evans was waltzing around the court like it was a stage and gave a long speech.
When the band left they stood in the doorway of the court room and looked like a then modern version of the Regency period Rolling Stones and we chatted – that’s the photos you see – there were people getting autographs before the band were driven off…
2. What did you think of the video Revolver made for Sally Cinnamon?
It’s not that terrible is it but if a band has a vision then you don’t fuck with the vision. The problem was that Gareth had signed a small deal with Revolver because at the time no one else wanted the Roses – in a way all the parties were right!
3. Do you think the band did it as a publicity stunt or do you think it was a natural reaction?
A mixture would be perfect! There was a resentment and that played out as a brilliant piece of pop art and rock n roll theatre. It harked back to the Stones busts in the sixties and the Sex Pistols court room dramas of the seventies. There is something pure showbiz about a courtroom drama, men in wigs etc!
4. The band seemed to be plagued by various court cases and legal battles with record labels. How much do you think it affected their career?
It stalled their career – they were on their way to being enormous, but the court dramas and litigation made good stories – the hold ups did harm the band, but they enjoyed the anarchy of their Sex Pistolian antics.
5. Do you think the band fully realised their potential?
That debut album alone is one of the most fulfilled potentials of all time! But I always wonder what album three would have been like – maybe one day we will find out when, and if they rise again like Robin Hood and his merry men!
6. What is your fondest memory of the Stone Roses?
Blackpool Empress Ballroom. Being a lover of pop culture, it was amazing to be in the middle of a youth quake and see it happen in real time especially with such a great soundtrack!
7. Do you think the Stone Roses will ever perform together again?
Only the wise man will ever know the true answer!