Monday, November 13, 1989

The Stone Roses released “Fools Gold”

Fools Gold

The Stone Roses

Writer(s): Ian Brown, John Squire (see lyrics here)

Released: November 13, 1989

First Charted: November 25, 1989

Peak: 5 AR, 8 UK, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 20.5 video, 47.68 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Stone Roses formed in Manchester, England in 1983. They were considered a pioneering group of the indie-dance Madchester movement of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The primary members were singer Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani, and drummer Reni. Their 1989 debut album has been regarded as one of the most important in British history.

The band got locked into a legal battle with Silvertone, their record label, after the release of the album. It held up a follow-up, Second Coming, until 1994. In the interim, the band released a series of singles of which the most successful was “Fools Gold”/“What the World Is Waiting For.” The original plan was to release the latter as the A-side, but when Silvertone’s A&R man, Roddy Mckenna, urged the band to release “Fools Gold” as the A-side. Since the band wasn’t completely convinced, the decision was made to release it as a double-A-sided single. It became the UK’s biggest-selling independent single in 1989. SF

“From Mani’s seminal bassline to John Squire’s guitars, it already had the hallmarks of a belter, but when drummer Reni aped the beat of James Brown’s ‘Funky Drummer,’ a true classic was born.” XFM It was Squire who discovered the cut. He told Q magazine that the band were signing copies of their single “She Bangs the Drums” at a record shop and the owner let them pick out a few albums as a thank you. Squire picked up a breakbeats album and that’s where he heard “Funky Drummer.” SF

The “masterful synthesis of rock and funk pioneered indie-dance and the re-mix dance craze of New Wave groups such as Primal Scream.” SF XFM called “Fools Gold” “the definitive Stone Roses song, the definitive baggy track and the tune that would define Madchester.” XFM Listeners at BBC Radio 5 concurred in 2007 when they voted it “the song that best summed up the city of Manchester.” SF

Brown said the lyrics hinted at trouble brewing amongst the band. The words were inspired by The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a 1948 Humphrey Bogart film. Brown said, “In the film the friends go up a mountain looking for gold. But as they go on, they start turning on one another. That's how it felt once the Roses started getting successful. Suddenly everyone was after their piece of gold.” SF


  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia
  • XFM Mike Walsh (editor) (2010). The XFM Top 1000 Songs of All Time. Elliott & Thompson Limited: London, England. Page 403.

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First posted 10/14/2021; last updated 10/26/2021.

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