HE can count Ian Brown, Paul Weller and The Smith’s Mike Joyce among his closest friends and musical collaborators.

But now Aziz Ibrahim is on a more personal journey with his latest projects which delve into his heritage and his father’s stories of Pakistan.

Aziz, a former live guitarist for the Stone Roses, will be at The North West Guitar Show at Haydock Park Racecourse Exhibition Centre on Sunday, May 20.

The show, run by Cinnamon Brow residents Peter and Gail Hoarty, will see the 54-year-old present ‘Desi GuitR’ in partnership with the Arts Council.

Aziz said: “Peter and Gail are a lovely couple and that show has been growing and growing over 20 years. I’m working on a project which brings to light things about south Asian music and culture.

“It’s a big influence on my music and writing. If you trace any of my releases they have elements of my culture and heritage in there.

“It comes out naturally. It’s like having an accent. So I started to study my heritage more and applied to the Arts Council for a grant

“Desi is a south Asian word. The best way to explain it is if you went in a restaurant and you didn’t want what everybody else was getting and asked for your meal to be prepared in the way the chefs make it at home.

“It’s traditional or ‘home style’ so when I call it Desi GuitR I’m referring to the fact my playing has elements of my tradition and culture in it.

“One thing about guitarists is we’re always pursuing our heroes but sometimes not looking for our own ‘voice’.

“It’s opened up a whole new world for me. People have this thing about saying: ‘It’s all been done before’.

“It might be true but we’ve forgotten or don’t even know about the things that have been done in the past.”

Exploring his family’s roots is nothing new to Manchester-born Aziz who launched Project 70 Asian Blues last year.

It was in recognition of 70 years since Partition coming into effect, dividing British India into two new, independent countries: India and Pakistan.

Aziz added: “I started with this theory that blues music existed in other forms in Asia because of four centuries of colonial rule.

“You can go anywhere and find a blues story. I suppose it’s just the black American blues is more defined.

“It was Project 70 because it was 70 years of India’s independence last year hence why there was a lot of activity about Partition.

“My father died in 2006 and last year I was also asked to compose a symphony for the Manchester Camerata which for a guy who can’t read or write music was unbelievable.

“Being a Manc and a north west personality I kind of just took to it. The story itself was about my parents’ journey. I didn’t realise what my mother and father had been through and the horrors of Partition. More than a million people died in that one movement.

“I wrote this thing called Lahore to Longsight which was partially an album I never released which had my good friends on it from the Stones Roses, The Smiths and Paul Weller.

“I was lost to begin with but the show was a sell-out. I couldn’t believe it but it was a beautiful experience.

“I’m a son of an immigrant and to have the opportunity to play music without having the pressures that come when you live hand to mouth is something I can’t take for granted.”

Aziz, who helped pen Ian Brown’s Unfinished Monkey Business, started playing the guitar when he was seven.

He said: “I was learning guitar in the 70s and I grew up with rockabilly. I was probably the first Pakistani rockabilly guitarist.

“I learnt from people like Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and Bill Haley and the Comets.”

Aziz cut his teeth in reggae and blues bands but did not think of music as a career until he got a life changing opportunity.

His late friend Phil Ellis’s partner worked for Simply Red’s management and so when the band were looking for a guitarist Aziz got the call.

Mick Hucknall was said to be looking for someone who was into the Rolling Stones and reggae.

Aziz added: “Music chose me. I didn’t chose music. I wanted to be a doctor or at least I thought I did.

“When they first offered me the chance to join this famous band and travel internationally I thought it was my mates messing about.

“There was one route which was traditional and felt quite predictable to me – being a Pakistani doctor – and then I saw this: I could be a Pakistani rock and roll musician.

“It was so enticing. I embraced it and it’s never ended to this day because there’s so many exciting things to learn and I get to meet new people all the time.”

He went on to work on music of almost every kind including funk and soul with Hot Chocolate, prog rock with Asia and jungle with Rebel MC.

Aziz, who is currently developing a show with HOME in Manchester, said: “There were so many genres that I moved through and that’s what fascinated me.

“Sometimes you can encounter a bit of musical snobbery but I look at it in the same way I look at people.

“I don’t look at colour and religion. I look at the bonds that tie us together like music and sports.

“Someone from Libya could love the same band that you love. With music no passport is required.”

But then he had what Noel Gallagher described as ‘the hardest job in the world’ when he replaced John Squire in the Stone Roses.

He played with the band at Benicassim Festival in Spain and Reading Festival before the Roses’ infamous split.

But Aziz told Weekend he wasn’t daunted – at least at first.

He added: “It sounds arrogant but it was more ignorance than arrogance in the sense that I didn’t know enough about the situation to feel the fear that Noel Gallagher aptly pointed out about stepping into John’s shoes.

“He’s a fabulous musician, iconic performer and a very unique writer and guitarist.

“It was only when I started to learn the material that it started to dawn on me.

“I got caught up in the whole superstar façade and I got swept away by this band and how they were held in such esteem and awe compared to any other band.

“It wasn’t the music. It was more about the attitude and the statement.”

John Squire’s exit may have been the final nail in the coffin for the Roses – until their Warrington ‘resurrection’ in 2013 – but Aziz continued to work with Lymm resident Ian Brown when he launched his solo career.

He and Winachi Tribe’s Inder Goldfinger will be marking that significant moment in their lives when they celebrate 20 years since the release of Ian’s album, Unfinished Monkey Business, later this year.

He added: “Inder and I are doing a national tour celebrating our contribution and collaboration on the Ian Brown solo albums.

“Working with Ian was really where I got the opportunity to write and create for the first time.”

  • The North West Guitar Show in Haydock is on Sunday, May 20, between 10am and 4.30pm. Tickets are £8 on the door