Rumours of a Stone Roses resurrection have been as constant in recent years as the acid-house drumbeats for which they were celebrated – but until now it proved to be the fool's gold of musical reunions.
Over the weekend, however, a telling comment from fellow Madchester veteran Shaun Ryder about lead singer Ian Brown's costly marital break-up showed that a reconciliation really was imminent: "It's amazing what a divorce will make you do," he joked.
Proving they are indeed back together, 15 years after their acrimonious and drug-fuelled split, the quartet who for a generation were the best band in the world appeared before the press to a standing ovation at a London hotel yesterday. Asked by The Independent about the accuracy of Ryder's words, Brown elliptically refused to deny them.
"Any comment Shaun Ryder makes is all right with me," he joked. "There's always truth in what Shaun Ryder says."
They wouldn't be the first band to make a comeback to up their bank balances, and the two gigs they will play at Manchester's Heaton Park on 29 and 30 June should be very lucrative – as would their plan, in the words of bassist Mani, to "take over the world".
But yesterday, all four appeared sincere when they stressed that there was more to the reunion than a bumper pay day. "It's never been about the money," Mani insisted, batting away previous comments he made to the contrary. "I'm getting fucking sick of being asked that question and answering it."
The reason "that question" kept coming is the sheer force with which the now-reunited bandmates had previously denied they would ever play together again. Two years ago, guitarist John Squire even posted a picture of an artwork online with the superimposed message: "I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses."
Asked about that statement yesterday, he said: "I just couldn't see it happening and I resented the fact people were trying to force it on me. But when me and Ian met by chance, it changed everything."
He added: "It was surreal, we went through crying and laughing about the old days, writing songs in a heartbeat, and I think in some ways it's a friendship that defines us both and it needed fixing. Two phone calls later, the band was no longer dead. There is no grave."
It was the death of Mani's mother this year that created a rapprochement, which eventually happened the day after the Tottenham riots. "We came together and rehearsed and went through a few songs and something magical happens when us four are in a room together," Mani said. "It'll be beautiful to catch back hold of it again, I've missed it."
Former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher led the chorus of approval from fans, saying he had "not been this happy since my kids were born".
Alongside boasts that they will impress the world were more circumspect comments on long-term viability. "It might go tits-up," Mani said, while drummer Reni underlined: "There's a long way to go." And Brown conceded in his cocksure style that it may yet fail again: "We'll ride it till the wheels fall off like last time – and they did, didn't they?"
Asked about the chances of releasing a new album, Brown again refused to commit – referring to the laziness and arguments that delayed their belated second album, Second Coming, for six years. "We hope so, but we said that before, didn't we?"
Divorce: A creative force
Marvin Gaye's 'Here, My Dear'
After the soul singer's wife filed for divorce in 1975 and laid claim to half the profits from his next album, Gaye entered the studio with the intention of knocking out a lazy record to pay the bills. Instead he produced one of the best LPs of his career, describing the breakdown of the relationship in heartbreaking detail.
John Cleese's Alimony tour
Perhaps the most obvious piece of divorce-necessitated money-making was John Cleese's stand-up tour earlier this year, named Alimony following the break-up of his marriage to Alyce-Faye Eichelberger. The former Python previously starred in the one-man show "A Ludicrous Evening with John Cleese... or How to Finance Your Divorce" in Norway in 2009.
Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours'
Divorce can inspire great art as well as money-making ruses. 'Rumours' is considered by many as the finest breakup LP. At the time of recording, two of the band's members, John and Christine McVie, had filed for divorce while Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had also just broken up – with Nicks turning to drummer Mick Fleetwood.
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