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Happy Mondays
"Do I think the Mondays will go down in musical history? I couldn't give a fuck!"
- Shaun Ryder
The Happy Mondays were formed in Little Hulton, Salford, in 1984 by brothers Shaun (22) and Paul Ryder (20). Paul's funky bass playing was complimented with the guitar work of Mark Day, keyboarding of Paul Davis and drumming of Gary 'Gaz' Whelan. Shaun added rhyme and chants in his distinctive Salford accent. They later admitted to having stolen most of their equipment.

In 1985 they entered Mike Pickering's Battle Of The Bands at The Haçienda. They came last but Tony Wilson still signed them up anyway to Factory Records, who released the debut 'Forty-Five Ep' in September. It failed to chart but allowed the Salford scallies the opportunity to work in a studio for the first time.

One of their mates, Mark 'Bez' Berry, the son of a Police Detective Inspector, was persuaded one night in The Haçienda by Shaun to get up and dance along on stage as they performed their set. The crowd loved him and he remained as a sixth member of the band playing his maracas and dancing madly. jIt was Bez's mad dancing that inspired the band's second single in 1986, 'Freaky Dancin''

By 1987, the band had recorded their debut album, the John Cale produced, 'Squirrel & G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)', which included the track 'Desmond', a rip-off of The Beatles 'Ob-la-di Ob La-da'. Not happy with a Manchester band copying their music, The Beatles management threatened to sue Factory, so the album was withdrawn and re-released six months later with the single '24 Hour Party People' replacing it. The album also spawned the single 'Tart Tart' which also failed to chart.

Despite the lack of chart success, the album received good reviews and a cult following of scallies and ravers helped by the band members giving drugs away at the door to their gigs.

High on ecstasy, the band recorded their next album, 'Bummed' and released probably their best ever single, “Wrote For Luck” in 1988. Produced by Mancunian legend and fellow drug addict, Martin Hannett, it highlighted Shaun's football fan singing style. By now the band and their producer were taking Ecstasy freely and were credited for introducing it to the UK dance scene.

Having failed to be scared by The threat of legal action from The Beatles management for 'Desmond', The Mondays decided to rip-off 'Ticket To Ride' with the single 'Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer)' (which featured their childhood hero Karl Denver). The album also spawned the single 'Mad Cyril' and 'Wrote for Luck' was re-mixed and released as 'W.F.L.' by Vince Clarke, Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold. Chart success still eluded them.

Oakenfold and Osborne stayed on though, remixing the band's break-through release in 1989. The 'Madchester Rave On' EP reached Number 19 in the UK and featured 'Hallelujah' which was also released as a Christmas single, with vocals supplied by Kirsty MacColl, the daughter of Salford folk singer, Ewan MacColl. The term Madchester was also lifted by the music press (and Tony Wilson) to describe the whole Manchester baggy scene of the time.

In 1990, The Monday's added the final ingredient to their class A potion in the form of backing singer, Rowetta. her fantastic soulful vocals complimented the band's dancey groove and Shaun's chants. 'Step On', their version of John Kongo's 1970 hit, 'He's Gonna Step On You Again', reached Number 5 and even charted in the USA.

'Kinky Afro' followed six months later and also reached the UK Top 5, heralding the release of the band's superb third album 'Pills 'N' Thrills 'N' Bellyaches'. Charting at Number 4, an amazing achievement for a band signed to an independent label, the band were suddenly famous. Not a bad thing for most groups but this was The Mondays.

The UK press suddenly unearthed all the unbelievable but factually true stories of the band members' sordid past, drug dealing and stealing on the streets of Salford. The NME accused Shaun and Bez of being homophobic, and whilst Factory's PR team went into overdrive to try and settle matters, the band would just make things worse by their naive honesty.

The live album, 'Baby Big Head Bootleg', reached Number 21 in the UK charts in September 1991 and was followed by the Oakenfold/Osborne produced single, 'Judge Fudge' (UK number 24).

By this time Factory's debts were starting to spiral out of control and they relied heavily on the success of the Monday's next album. Unfortuantely for them, Shaun had become addicted to heroin so the decision was made to send the band to The Bahamas, where he wouldn't be able to buy any.

Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club duo, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were asked to produce the album, which was a bad move as they struggled to work with the now out-of-control Shaun. The band's drug abuse was phenomenal at this point and Factory ended up paying over a quarter of a million pounds to make the album. It's widely reported that the band stripped down the recording studio to pay for their new cocaine habit. They even sold their clothes when there was nothing left to steal. Shaun even blackmailed Tony Wilson for the safe return of the recordings. the album in effect bankrupted Factory.

When 'Yes Please!' finally appeared in October 1992 it failed to chart any higher than UK Number 14. The music press hated it and the singles 'Stinkin Thinkin' (UK No.31) and 'Sunshine & Love' flopped.

When EMI offerd a rescue package to the band in 1993, Shaun walked out of the meeting to get himself a K.F.C. (the band's nickname for heroin). He failed to return and the group disbanded.

Having disappeared from the limelight amid rumours that his decadent rock'n'roll lifestyle had finally caught up with him, killing off his creative mind, Shaun returned spectacularly in 1995. In reality he had in fact been putting a new band together. Black Grape went straight to the top of the charts with their debut album, 'It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah!', selling over half a million copies in the UK alone.

The perfect mix of Shaun's clever sound-bite rhyme and the straight-up rapping provided by Kermit (ex-Ruthless Rap Assassins) with the funky jazz sound supplied by R.R.A. drummer Ged and ex-Paris Angels guitarist, Wags, could only ever be complimented by Bez doing his stuff (whatever that is!?!). Gary Gannon from The Smiths also helped out on a few tracks.

Shaun claimed to be off hard drugs replacing them with Guinness. by this time he was living in Ireland with his wife, daughter of 60's pop star, Donovan (who the Monday's had previously written a song about). He provided guest vocals on The Heads single 'Don't Take My Kindness For Weakness'.

After arguing about his role in the group Bez split with Shaun in 1996, appearing on UK children's TV of all places and he didn't appear on the group's second album 'Stupid Stupid Stupid', which reached Number 11 in the UK, 1997. The making of the album obviously took its toll on the band, and they soon split up in 1998 following many heated arguments, cancelling their promotional tour in the process.

.In October 1998, Shaun stated that The Happy Mondays would never get back together. six weeks later, having received a massive tax demand and an expensive divorce, he changed his mind.

He overcame his disagreement with Bez and reunited with Gaz Whelan, Wags and Rowetta. They introduced a new member, Nuts, and Shaun finally called an end to his six year silence with his brother Paul, who reluctantly agreed to rejoin them. Their poor version of Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys Are Back In Town' reached UK Number 30 in 1999 and featured Shaun repeatedly singing 'We're back in the MCR'.

Their 'Greatest Hits' followed, heralding a sell-out World tour kickstarted by the massive M.E.N. Arena show in April'99. The touring had re-introduced the band back to their excessive lifestyle, and not willing to return to his bad ways, Paul Ryder quit ahead of their Japanese and Australian gigs.

The rest continued until August 2000. Following a fight between Shaun and Rowetta on the ferry journey over to Ireland for the Witness Festival, The Happy Mondays announced a final split.

Paul Ryder and Gaz Whelan went on to form funky Manc outfit, Buffalo 66, without any success, whilst Shaun overcame litigation from his management at Black Grape, who had prevented him from releasing any new material. He teamed up with Salford tenor and fellow Manchester United fanatic, Russell Watson, to record a true-Manc version of Freddie Mercury's 'Barcelona', which celebrated the reds' European Cup Final triumph over Bayern Munich in the Catalan city.

The amazing movie 24 Hour Party People from Michael Winterbottom, retold the story of The Happy Mondays and Tony Wilson, winning rave reviews and packing UK cinemas in the process during 2002.

Following a brief side project with 'Amateur Night In The Big Top', where he provided (pretty random) vocals, Shaun reformed The Mondays for some gigs in 2004 whilst the X Factor TV show made Rowetta a household name. Bez was to follow suit only weeks later, when he starred in Celebrity Big Brother (the reality TV show previously won by fellow Manc musician, Mark Owen). Great publicity for his new band, Domino Bones.

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music | the best manchester music collections
Manchester - So Much To Answer For - just one of many Manchester music collections Do you love Manchester music? Of course you do! Well, we've tracked down the best compilation albums from the rock'n'goal capital and the great news is that many of them are dead easy to get your hands on still. And just in case your eyes get jealous of the special treatment you're giving your ears, we've also rounded up the best books written about music making in Manchester.
Buy Bez - Freaky Dancin' the book
buy tickets for X Factor Live featuring Rowetta
buy Happy Mondays Greatest Hits
buy Amateur Night In The Big Top, featuring Shaun Ryder
buy 24 Hour Party People on Region 1 or Region 2 DVD
buy Happy Mondays T-shirts online
chat about the Happy Mondays in Manc Rant
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