The Happy Mondays on a ferry in New York City
Jan 1981: Unemployed best friends Shaun Ryder and Bez start a band in their native Manchester, allegedly to give them something to do besides take drugs. The pair rope in Ryder's brother, Paul, on bass, amateur footballer Gary 'Gaz' WheIan on drums, Paul Davis on keyboards and, finally, guitarist Mark Day, the only member who could actually play an instrument. They call themselves Happy Mondays, although no-one knows why. Inspired by local heroes New Order - if more for their working-class credentials and party mentality than for their music - Ryder appoints himself the band1s leader and lyricist.

Jan 1983: Clothes shop owner and entrepreneur Phil Saxe agrees to manage Happy Mondays. He gets them their first gig, taking part in a 'battle of the bands' contest at the newly-opened Hacienda nightclub in Manchester. The Mondays' ramshackle performance doesn't win, but it brings them to the attention of Mike Pickering, then the Hacienda's resident DJ, later founder of M People.

May 1984
: Pickering persuades Hacienda owners Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton to sign Happy Mondays to their Factory Records label, home of New Order. Six months later, the Mondays play their first big gig, supporting New Order at Macclesfield Leisure Centre

Sep 1985
: Happy Mondays release their debut single, the three-track Forty-Five. It is produced by Pickering, after original producer Vini Reilly from Factory band Durutti Column quits after just two hours in the studio with the band.

Jun 1986
: A second single, the double A-sided Freaky Dancin'/The Egg, is released. Produced by New Order singer Bernard Sumner, it captures Happy Mondays1 chaotic live sound on record and suggests for the first time that the band has potential. "Freaky Dancin' sounds like something A Certain Ratio might have made before Donald Johnson was drafted in to stamp on their toes and make them dance," notes NME in its singles reviews column

Apr 1987
: Happy Mondays' debut album comes out to widespread disinterest. It doesn't help that it has the ludicrous title Squirrel And G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out). Or that it was produced by John Cale, a reformed drug addict appalled by the band's unruly behaviour and chemical intake. NME describes Happy Mondays as "someone shouting in a Manchester accent over weak and watery foonk like nearly everything else on Factory". Largely incoherent indie-rock, the album is notable only for the song 24 Hour Party People - although NME praises the first single, Tart Tart, for having "good rude lyrics" - and for landing Factory with a writ from Michael Jackson for illegally borrowing Beatles lyrics.

Jun 1988
: Manchester promoter and artist manager Nathan McGough takes over from Phil Saxe and gets Happy Mondays their first written contract from Factory.

Oct 1988
: Wrote For Luck is released as the first single from Happy Mondays1 forthcoming second album. It receives mixed reviews, but becomes a minor underground club hit.

Nov 1988
: Second album Bummed comes out. Producer Martin Hannett hints at Happy Mondays future dancefloor direction with tracks such as Lazyitis and Ryder impresses with some obscure but inspired, stream of consciousness lyrics. In a 9 out of 10 review, NME's James Brown writes: "If you love the energy of acid and the awkward aggression of good independent rock, but want your music to be scarred with the characters of Dennis Hopper, Charlie Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Rotten, then you can stop looking to the past and taking these pleasures separately by getting Bummed for a truly stimulating contemporary, sensory thrashing".

May 1989
: Lazyitis is rerecorded and rereleased as a single. The new version is later named Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer) and features country legend Karl Denver sparring live with Shaun on vocals. It is described in NME's singles reviews column as "Shaun's warbling tributes to The Beatles for Ticket To Ride, David Essex's We're Gonna Make You A Star and Sly and The Family Stone's Family People, meshed with Karl 'Wimoweh' Denver's dulcet tones".

Sep 1989
: Inspired by Acid House parties, Ryder requests a dance remix of Wrote For Luck. McGough commissions London club dj Paul Oakenfold, who renames the track W.F.L. and turns it into a beats-driven dancefloor anthem.

Nov 1989
: Four-track EP Madchester Rave On cashes in on the burgeoning, Ecstacy-fuelled indie-dance scene in the north-west of England and gives Happy Mondays their first Top 40 hit. Produced by Martin Hannett, it sells largely on the back of lead track Hallelujah. "This single is double-double good" NME says,"and Happy Mondays have been totally inspirational in 1989".

Nov 1989
: Band makes it's Top Of The Pops debut alongside the Stone Roses, also appearing for the first time

Dec 1989
: Ryder insists that Madchester Rave On is deleted and replaced with a remix EP, on which the songs are reworked by club djs such as Oakenfold and Andrew Weatherall. Madchester Rave On - The Remixes is hailed as one of the year's defining records

Apr 1990
: Originally recorded for a U.S. compilation album, Happy Mondays' Oakenfold-produced cover of John Kongos' 1971 hit He1s Gonna Step On You comes out as a UK single. Renamed Step On, it goes Top 5 and sees the band sell out Wembley Arena. "A record like this," notes NME, "reassures the genuinely groovy amongst us that good sex still exists on vinyl".

Jun 1990
: The group plays US dates under the banner 'Hacienda Trance American Tour'.

Jun 1990
: Happy Mondays play Glastonbury Festival

Oct 1990
: Produced by Oakenfold and his studio partner, Steve Osbourne, and indebted to Labelle's Lady Marmalade, Kinky Afro gives Happy Mondays their second Top 5 single

Nov 1990
: Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches enters the UK charts at #1 with pre-sales of 150,000. Recorded in L.A. with Oakenfold and Osbourne, Happy Mondays' triumphant third album is rivalled in the indie-dance era only by Stone Roses' debut. "This is a tremendous record and a gauntlet chucked at all the other would-be legends in town" says NME in a 9 out of 10 review. "Wild, brash, corrosive funk rock, grimly northern and yet pan-cultural in a Tesco's shoplifter kind of way."

Apr 1991
: The band tours America promoting Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches.

Nov 1991
: Hampered by a press backlash against indie-dance and a growing vogue for US grunge groups like Nirvana, Happy Mondays stage a half-hearted return to the charts with mediocre single Judge Fudge. It stalls at #30.

Oct 1992
: Amid incessant rumours of inter-band feuds and escalating drug abuse, Happy Mondays release their fourth album, ...Yes Please!. Recorded in the Bahamas with ex-Talking Heads Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth, it is derided by critics and barely scrapes into the Top 10."A bit ordinary on first hearing," was NME's reaction. "Maybe all the fannying about has left them feeling so atrophied that they're happy to sound like The Farm. On the same day, the band begin their last UK tour in Leicester

Nov 1992
: Factory Records goes into receivership with debts of over #2 million. McGough negotiates a new deal with EMI for five Happy Mondays albums. It falls through when Ryder fails to turn up for the signing.

Feb 1993
: Despite offers from other record labels, Happy Mondays split acrimoniously.

Aug 1995
: Ryder and Bez return with Black Grape and the new band's debut album It's Great When You're Straight goes to No. 1

Nov 1995
: Loads - The Best of Happy Mondays reaches # 41 in the charts.

Apr 1999
: With Black Grape disbanded after unsuccessful second album, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Ryder reforms Happy Mondays in order to pay a tax bill. They sell out five UK arena shows, starting at Manchester's Evening News Arena and ending at London's Brixton Academy

May 1999
: Now on London Records, Happy Mondays release comeback single The Boys Are Back In Town. The limp reworking of Thin Lizzy's classic peaks at #35 and is described by NME as "a flailing, half-arsed dog's breakfast, with Shaun's autopilot vocals clipping the treetops of his own boredom threshold".

May 1999
: Happy Mondays release another Greatest Hits album, this time featuring the new single

Jun 1999
: Happy Mondays play Ibiza's Manumission alongside Howard Marks.

Jul 1999
: The band begin a second UK tour and confirm appearances at various summer festivals

Jul 2000
: Happy Mondays play a shambolic set at the Glastonbury Festival

Aug 2000
: Following a fight between Ryder and backing singer Rowetta on a ferry en route to the Witness Festival in Ireland, Happy Mondays announce a final split

Reproduced courtesy of NME

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