"You're twisting my melons Man!"
Best known as the deranged man with the maracas, prancing about on stage with the Happy Mondays, Mark Berry, better known as Bez, is the embodiment of the Madchester scene in the 1980s as shown in the film 24 Hour Party People.
Also known for the large quantity of drugs used, this son of a Detective Inspector is easily recognised by his spaced out expression, sketetal face and large staring eyes.
Details of his life so far are sketchy, and even details in his biography, which he wrote himself are to be taken with a pinch of salt as his coherance due to self medication has been lacking thoughout his life.
Having said that, he has had an interesting life with details which should be from a work of fiction as opposed to a biography with tales of living in a fully furnished shed for two years after his law abiding father threw him out of home, to a time when he lived in a Morrocan cave with a man who made his own LSD.
So, how did a petty criminal with no defined path in life get into the public eye, and not on Crimewatch?
Well, one night he got up on stage at The Hacienda to dance and suddenly became famous.
A 22 year old Shaun Ryder and his younger brother Paul started up a band called the Happy Mondays. With the help of producer Mike Pickering in 1985, the band was signed to Tony Wilson's Factory Records. Wilson owned The Hacienda, and by this link, Bez got involved with the Happy Mondays. It was decided that the band was too stationary whilst performing and needed some movement on stage and Bez was contacted after he was seen dancing at Wilson's club. This led to Bez joining the band to become their percussionist despite having no formal training. He plays his instrument well, but he became better known for his lively dancing, creating a spaced out vibe on stage.
A journalist asked Bez why he took so many drugs once, to which he replied,
"It's my job"
All went well for a while until in 1990 the music magazine NME labelled Shaun Ryder and Bez as Stupid Druggies and said they were homophobic. Ryder and Bez as well as the rest of Happy Mondays denied these accusations strongly.
In 1993 Shaun Ryder along with Bez, a rapper named Kermit and Jed from The Ruthless Rap Assassins joined together to form the group Black Grape with Reverend Black Grape reaching the top ten in 1995. Surrounded by controversy due to the lyrical content which endorsed Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, the song was condemned by the Catholic church and then banned from television along with its video.
T in the Park
1995 saw more antics by Bez at the T in the Park festival
. Whilst signing autographs
in a marquee
, he grabbed a ghetto blaster
and turned the volume
. He then proceded to dance
on a table
before Kermit laughed too much and tried to get away. This led to him tripping
over and fracturing his ankle
. Despite this, the whole band still managed to make it onto the stage that night.
Black Grape only lasted another year before Bez had an disagreement with Ryder over his position in the band which led to Bez leaving on bad terms.
Happy Monday Resurrected
In 1998 Shaun Ryder decided to reform the Happy Mondays with his brother Paul, Gaz Whelan, Paul Wagstaff, a guy called Nuts and Rowetta who had previously sung with the group in their earlier incarnation. This only lasted a year before the group split again with Shaun left in debt after a divorce and problems with his taxes, and a court case with the manager of Black Grape which stopped him from recording any new material.
The same year as this was happening to Ryder, Bez was having his own troubles. After getting a slot as a DJ at Glastonbury festival, he was arrested and charged with supplying a Class A drug by police whilst on site. This happened before he was due to go on stage, so he consequently missed his gig on the Sunday. Magistrates dismissed the charge at a later date due to insufficient evidence.
As well as being a pop star, percussionist and dancer, Bez also has been on many television shows including The Sunday Show. He has also appeared regularly in Loaded magazine and is a popular agony uncle in Japan's equivent of Smash Hits magazine. His status as icon to the youth of today is still retained and he has recorded a pilot television show aimed at this audience as well as forming a new band with Joe Strummer of The Clash.
A visit to the 1998 Glastonbury festival