Impressed by the charisma of the young man Washington told him he should be a singer, a piece of advice that was taken and within weeks the Roses came together…
Ian Brown had been inspired to get back into rock’n'roll after a meeting. A meeting that has become one of the great stories that surrounds the Roses myth.
Ian Brown was having a party at his flat for Mitch, his girlfriend’s 21st birthday…a guest arrived that no one was expecting and the following story is how the pair of them remember it slightly differently . . .
In ’82/’83 Ian Brown was living in Hulme, in one of the four huge flat complexes in the heart of the then run-down bohemian zone just south of Manchester city centre.
Charles Barry Crescent was where most of the musicians lived in 1983 ”â people like Big Flame, Inca Babies, Ruthless Rap Assassins. It was all cracked concrete cancer and crazy graffiti ”â full of rat infested roach-ridden flats, junkies, squalor and filth. It was also, for the young tearaway with rock’n'roll on their mind ”â a great place to live.
There were ndless parties, easily available dealers, like-minded freaks as neighbours and it was a quarter of an hour walk from the city centre. It was a tight community. Hulme was probably the biggest boho drop-out zone in the UK, and in the early Eighties it was at its post-punk twenty-four-hour-party-people peak.
One night Ian Brown had a party in his flat and waltzing through the door came the unlikely figure of Geno Washington, one of the kings of soul, the don, the man with the sweetest soul voice, the man who Dexy’s (one of the Roses’ favourite bands) had honoured with ”ËGeno’ their biggest hit.
‘We met at party in Hulme. I was doing gig in Manchester University and after the gig I didn’t want to go straight to the hotel and there was this guy in my dressing room and he says I know where we can party. So I went down to the party and the joint was jumping and everything. I was at the party and I see a crowd of guys, you know how guys get together and have a drink and start bullshitting so I went and joined the crowd in the corner laughing and I like laughing!
I’m not a big boozer but I wanted a little taste of blow so I ask one of the guys who was Ian if he had any friends with any blow and, you know, he says no he don’t but he has friend who can get some. So he calls his friend up and he says he will be over in 10 minutes and I said alright! I know this party is going to be nice!’
Ten minutes later the friend turned up at the small flat in the now demolished Hulme Crescent.
‘The friend arrived and he already had one rolled up so we had the blow and now I got my mojo working and I got god in my stride so I went back inside and I seen how the girls were flocking around Ian. He was a very good looking guy with a very good personality- he had the looks but he wasn’t doing the playboy things! he was just busy drinking with mates and telling jokes.
I said you made me happy giving me the blow so I want to do the pay back and show that I’m not a hustler trying to use you, I wanna give you some knowledge that you don’t know about that might change your life. So we got talking about these girls who were round him like flies to honey. I said you’re not taking no notice and you got the looks, you got the body- you’re healthy, you’re young and you ought to be a singer man, you know what I’m saying?.
I told him to get in the pop business and he says ‘nah man, I’ve never thought about that.’
I said do you write songs? and he said ‘nah!’ I said do you write poetry? and he said, ‘yeah I done a bit in school and my teacher said it was good and I should keep it up.’ I said did you keep it up? and he said no so I said you’re only one inch from writing songs if you can write poetry, you can write songs if you write poetry. So get in with a band and they can write the music for you. If you can do that then it’s song writing and all you got to do is learn to sing.
I told him the money in show business is in the song writing. When you write songs other people want the songs so you have nothing to lose because you are a star- I seen the way girls react round you, they love you and your mates love you. You can change your whole life by writing poetry so listen man, get in with a band. I was just warming up when he said, yeah that would take the pressure off and I told if he was going to do it he would have to practise because that’s what I had to do and everyone else did and that was how I got to play the Carnagie Hall.
No one had ever told him something like that and he was very grateful so we dropped the conversation and got into the party, bullshitting and having a good time and he actually introduced me to good piece of ass (laughs). It was a damn good night…’
So I come back ten years later and I get a call- you know who is one of biggest fucking stars in Europe and England is? it’s a band called the Stone Roses and the singer is Ian Brown who you met that night and I said no, really and he has told everyone in his interviews that if it wash’t for Geno Washington he would not be in this business and he said that he took the advice and understood that I wasn’t talking bullshit. I’m proud of him for doing that. It was one night out of friendship and I’m glad I was part of his life…’
‘Geno Washington turned up at this party at my flat in Hulme. Gluebag Glen who was a friend of mine and part of the original Roses crew and is dead now- he was found in London with a heroine needle, they say he had befriended this junkie and they ahd gone back to his flat and he was found dead and the flat was stripped.
Glen and Slim were the two big roadies in the early days, Slim was an early punk and Slim had brought Geno and his band back because he was working at Salford Uni as crew at the time and had met him. It was Michelle, my girlfriend at the time 21st- she is the mother of my two eldest- and it was he birthday party.
Gluebag Glen brought Geno Washington and his band back to the party in Hulme. I had never heard of Geno Washington at the time, to me he was just this dead cool old black guy who kept telling me that I was a star. He was saying ”Ëlook how everyone loves you, look how popular you are. You’re a star. You should be a singer!”Â He then said ”Ëwhere can I get a spliff?’ so I took him to the Reno club in Moss Side and stood outside whilst he got a spliff. I always remember him smoking the spliff in the street and this copper coming up and saying what the fuck are you doing? And he said ”ËI’m Geno Washington, I can do whatever I like!’ and carried on smoking the spliff. I thought that was so cool and the cop said ”Ëgo back in there and smoke it’ and didn’t even bust him!
”Â¨So he kept going on all night- ”Ëhey man you’re a star, you should be a singer man, look at how the people like you,’ and I said ”Ëit’s our party, these are my friends! that’s why they like me!’
But Ian listened…