On October 5th 1990 Alan John Wren, Ian George Brown, Gary Nigel Mounfield and John Thomas Squire appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court facing charges of criminal damage and a potential custodial sentence. It was the final conclusion to a case that had seen the group appear in court in Wolverhampton on four occasions throughout that year. A seminal and infamous chapter in the story of one of the world’s greatest ever bands, and one of the most fascinating stories in Wolverhampton’s music history.

The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
Photo © Richard Davis
Free the Roses long sleeve tee

Free The Roses pays homage to this seminal moment in 1990 when the Stone Roses became an immortal, and infamous part of Wolverhampton’s music history.

Hand screen printed in the West Midlands with water based inks on fairwear cotton and available in both men's long and unisex short sleeve t-shirt.

BUY FREE THE ROSES
In 1990 the Stone Roses were at the zenith of their powers, their mesmerising debut album was firmly embedding itself in music folklore as one of the greatest records ever made! It was this popularity that lead former Roses record label, Wolverhampton-based FM/Revolver Records, to re-release second Roses single ’Sally Cinnamon’ with an accompanying music video, a video made solely by Revolver without the bands consent – a move seen by the group as a massive compromise of their artistic integrity and a damaging blow to their professional reputation.
The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
Photo © Richard Davis
The re-issue of the single was not what infuriated the Roses, but the release of the unofficial video. This incensed the band and lead them to pay a visit to Revolver Records offices in Wolverhampton’s Goldthorn Hill to seek revenge. On January 30th 1990 Revolver MD Paul Birch, his girlfriend, his car and the Revolver offices were all splattered with paint and his car back window smashed, causing more than £22,000 worth of damage in the process. The band were subsequently arrested the next day at Rockfield studios in South Wales, all with visible signs of paint still on their clothing….they were literally caught red, and blue handed and taken back to Wolverhampton where they spent a night in police cells.
 
Paul Reid QC defending said in court, “These four men have an attitude towards their material which perhaps distinguishes them from many of their contemporaries…..In their view the action of FM/Revolver were utterly third-rate and could only detract from and damage the reputation they had built”. He added,“There are within the music industry many people prepared to cash in with second-rate product – that is not the Stone Roses style and it was their feelings of outrage which led to this incident.”
The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
Photo © Richard Davis
The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
Photo © Richard Davis
The case was heard three times at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court from January to April in 1990, but due to the severity of the proceedings the case was adjourned, with the band summoned to return to the more serious Wolverhampton Crown Court in October. Narrowly avoiding prison, the band were charged and all fined £3,000, with Judge Mott QC stating, “I think a prison sentence, suspended or otherwise, might lead to notoriety for you and ultimately be to your benefit, and I certainly don’t want to contribute to that.” After the verdict John Squire admitted he was relived, telling reporters, “I’m just glad to stay out of nick”.
The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
The original contact sheet. © Richard Davis
Due to the popularity of the band, hundreds of fans swarmed the court hearings, causing traffic chaos and disruption in Wolverhampton city centre. Over 100 fans were outside the Crown Court hearing in October, with some resourceful fans even making and selling ‘Ian Brown is innocent’ t-shirts and selling them outside court for a tenner. After the hearing the band mingled with fans signing autographs and rumour has it they handed out tickets for their seminal Spike Island gig to some lucky fans!
The Stone Roses – Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, 1990
Photo © Richard Davis
“These photos were taken on 6th March 1990 outside Wolverhampton Magistrates Court…I got the train down from Manchester early in the morning with John Robb, who was covering the story for Sounds Music Paper at the time…John rung me the night before saying they needed a photographer to cover it, was I interested…I didn’t need any persuading.
 
I remember we got there early, good job as it was all over very quickly…I was expecting a lot of hanging about that day but the Roses were in and out within minutes. Looking back it all seemed like one big photo opportunity, I was gutted I only had one roll of 36 exposures…wish I’d had more as the band hung around outside the court for quite a while chatting to fans and signing autographs….they seemed in good spirits. There really wasn’t many fans there that day but those that were lucky to attend would never forget it….I always remember watching them finally leave in a car holding up a piece of cardboard with the slogan “The Manchester Four are Innocent” written on it… class!”
Richard Davis

Richard Davis

All photos of The Stone Roses at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court are used with kind permission of Richard Davis. Follow Richard on Facebook: Richard Davis Photography

Disclaimer: True Reverie does not support or endorse criminal damage but does support the right for artists to protect their artistic integrity

Free the Roses t-shirt

Free The Roses pays homage to this seminal moment in 1990 when the Stone Roses became an immortal, and infamous part of Wolverhampton’s music history.

Hand screen printed in the West Midlands with water based inks on fairwear cotton and available in both men's long and unisex short sleeve t-shirt.

BUY FREE THE ROSES