MONDAYS - BIOGRAPHY
THE HAPPY MONDAYS ::
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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