Brown was born on the 20th of February 1963 in Warrington , Cheshire. His father George was a joiner and his mother Jean worked in a paper factory. He grew up in Timperley, South Manchester. He was a great admirer of Muhammed Ali, George Best and Bruce Lee, and learned karate. His interest in music was inspired by the original punk bands, specificially the Sex Pistols but also the likes of Angelic Upstarts and The Clash (he and original Stone Roses bassist Pete Garner attended the recording of the single "Bankrobber" in Manchester). He shared his musical interest with John Squire who lived on the same street. He also loved northern soul music and attended all-night events across the north of England. He joined Squire's band The Patrol on bass before it disbanded and eventually became singer to the newly-formed The Stone Roses in about 1984 after being told at a party by soul-legend Geno Washington 'You're a star. You're an actor. Be a singer.'
In 2005 Brown headlined The Other Stage on the closing night of Glastonbury Festival to great acclaim, playing five Roses classics and ending the festival in great style.