Squire is best known as the guitarist for the Stone Roses, a rock band in which he formed a songwriting partnership with lead singer Ian Brown. After leaving the Stone Roses he went on to found the Seahorses and has since released two solo albums. Squire is also an accomplished painter and announced in 2007 that he was giving up music for good to fully commit to painting. He did however then return to music when the Stone Roses reformed in 2011.
As a contemporary of Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Squire was amongst the most accomplished and influential British rock guitarists of the late 1980s and early 1990s, known for his chiming melodies, spiraling riffs and live solos. He was voted the 13th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll.
He was born in Broadheath, Altrincham, Cheshire. Squire grew up on Sylvan Avenue in Timperley, around the corner from Ian Brown, and after attending Heyes Lane Junior School, he passed the eleven plus exam and went on to attend Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. As a child he excelled at art. He formed a close friendship with Ian Brown during their last two years at school together after Ian helped aided him in a fight with a school bully. The two further bonded over a shared love for punk rock, particularly the Clash.
The two (Squire and Brown) moved on to South Trafford College after passing O-Levels. Ian did not last long before getting expelled and John dropped out shortly after in order to start a band. Although Squire had a couple of guitar lessons, he was largely self-taught.
In the early 1980s Squire and Brown founded the Patrol that eventually became the Stone Roses, with Squire as lead guitarist from 1984 to 1996. The partnership between Squire and Brown formed the heart of the band's lyrical and musical output. Squire is once again playing guitar in the reformed Stone Roses from 2011.
The Stone Roses became one of the most influential acts of its era. Their 1989 eponymous debut album quickly achieved the status of a classic in the UK, and topped NME's list of the Greatest British Albums of All Time. Squire co-wrote all of the tracks with Brown. The cover art was painted by Squire, it is a Jackson Pollock influenced piece containing references to the May 1968 riots in Paris.
By the mid-1990s the Roses were being hailed as pioneers of the Britpop movement. Squire displayed a vocal dislike of most of the bands, dismissing them as "Kensington art-wankers". The most notable exception was Oasis. Squire even made an appearance at their Knebworth concert, playing guitar on "Champagne Supernova" and a cover of "I Am the Walrus".
The band's second album, Second Coming (released in 1994), was mainly written by Squire. He has credits on all but one of the tracks, most of which credit him alone. The album's featured a heavier blues-rock sound, similar to Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers Band. The album was met with mixed reaction from fans, and shortly after band infighting and rumoured cocaine abuse led to his departure from the band on 1 April 1996.
Picking three unknowns, Squire formed a new band, the Seahorses, in 1996. The band's only album Do it Yourself was released in 1997. The Seahorses disbanded due to creative differences in 1999.
Following the demise of the Seahorses, Squire continued work with drummer Mark Heaney and ex-Verve bassist Simon Jones along with new vocalist Duncan Baxter as John Squire's Skunkworks, but left prior to the band releasing material as the Shining.
Squire released his first solo album, Time Changes Everything in 2002. A concept album followed in 2004 entitled Marshall's House. Squire has also said that he has recorded a third album, however he has decided not to release it as he felt that promoting and touring the album would take the fun out of the music, and turn it into a job rather than a hobby. This is the second time that Squire has recorded an album and opted to keep it unreleased, as he did the same in 1999 as a part of the Seahorses, when they recorded an album, set to be named "Minus Blue" or "Motorcade", but decided to break up rather than release the album.
Besides music, Squire is also a well-known, published artist. His artwork has adorned the singles, album covers and promotional posters for his and the Stone Roses' music. In the 1980s, Squire's artistic style was heavily influenced by the action painting technique of Jackson Pollock. In recent years, Squire has shown a broader use of media and has incorporated newer influences to his work. One such item — a surfboard covered with Beach Boys song titles, which was for the War Child charity to auction — featured on the cover for Travis's 1997 single release "U16 Girls" and their debut album Good Feeling. In 2004, Squire held two well-received art exhibitions in London and Manchester.
Over the past few years Squire has worked full-time on his artwork which he has exhibited at the Smithfield Gallery (July 2007) and the Dazed Gallery, London (September – October 2007).
At the Smithfield Gallery opening, Squire told a reporter from the Manchester Evening News that he was giving up music for good. He explained that "I'm enjoying this far too much to go back to music." When asked about a Stone Roses reunion, he said it was "highly unlikely".
In January 2009, Squire launched a new exhibition of his art entitled Heavy Metal Semantics, in London, and announced further exhibitions in Oldham, Austria and Tokyo later in the year. Further announced exhibitions include Edinburgh in August 2010 and Brussels in early 2011.
After leaving the Stone Roses, Squire allegedly had a lasting feud with ex-bandmate Ian Brown, with the pair not having spoken in over a decade since Squire's departure from the band. In a 2005 Q magazine article, Squire blasted Brown, claiming "When he (Brown) was stoned, he was at best a tuneless nob and at worst a paranoid mess" (this was in response to queries about what had gone wrong with the Second Coming recording sessions, and the state of Brown's vocal due to his cannabis intake). Although both Brown and Squire performed Stone Roses songs in their solo gigs, a band reunion seemed unlikely. Squire was interviewed in June 2007 by Dave Haslam on XFM Manchester radio and discussed his current work as an artist, and claimed that even if Brown phoned him and suggested a Stone Roses reunion, he would turn the offer down. But in an interview on The Culture Show in 2008, Squire stated: "I went to that Led Zeppelin reunion show, and on the way back in the car I was thinking it would be good to do something like that one day."
In March 2009, Squire appeared to put an end to speculation surrounding the Stone Roses' reunion by defacing one of his artworks with the text "I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group the Stone Roses." Also on 19 March 2009, Squire appeared on the BBC's Newsnight, and when asked if a reunion would ever occur, he stated that it would "absolutely most definitely not". He said he came on air to address the fans once and for all and also, "to stop the phones ringing." He also stated his belief that music is a young person's game
In March 2011, Ian and John had an "emotional reunion" at the funeral of Mani's mother, which led to speculation that the band were reforming although this was refuted at the time by Mani. However, on 18 October 2011, at London's Soho Hotel, the Stone Roses announced that they would reunite for the first time in fifteen years playing three shows at Heaton Park, Manchester, on 29 and 30 June and 1 July 2012 as part of an extensive Reunion Tour, and on 2 December 2011 Ian Brown and John Squire performed together live for the first time since 1995. They joined Mick Jones from the Clash, the Farm and Pete Wylie at the Manchester Ritz in aid of the Justice for Hillsborough campaign. They performed "Elizabeth My Dear" as a duo before being joined by Mick Jones and the Farm for renditions of the Clash’s "Bankrobber" and "Armagideon Time" with Ian Brown taking on lead vocals for the three songs. The Stone Roses, Squire, Brown, Alan Wren and Gary Mounfield, played a European tour in the summer of 2012.Time Changes Everything (2002) No.17 UKMarshall's House (2004) No.90 UK"Joe Louis" (2002) No.43 UK"Room In Brooklyn" (2004) No.44 UKTime Changes Everything Live EP (Japan only) (2003)