Why Shaun Ryder quit drugs after sex parties, ‘crack island’ and biting dog on LSD

Why Shaun Ryder quit drugs after sex parties, ‘crack island’ and biting dog on LSD

Why Shaun Ryder quit drugs after sex parties, ‘crack island’ and biting dog on LSD

Legendary Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder, who is celebrating his 60th birthday today, gave up his drug-fuelled lifestyle for an emotional reason

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Shaun Ryder screams during eye-watering coffee enema

Shaun Ryder was taking “every drug going” back in the 90s – but now leads a very different life after making a drastic decision. During the heyday of the Happy Mondays, who rose to fame with huge hits such as Step On and Kinky Afro, Shaun was often left unable to walk due to the amount he was taking and was hooked on the illegal substances.

After every gig on their Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches tour, Shaun would dive into a cocktail of booze, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana. The group led a hedonistic, drug-fuelled life, which was part-documented in the film 24 Hour Party People, which involed sex parties and even a wild experience on ‘crack island’. But Shaun, who turns 60 today, has turned his life around.

Shaun Ryder was frontman of the Happy Mondays


( Getty Images)

Shaun performing with a pint in hand in 1991


( Ian Dickson/REX/Shutterstock)

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Shaun has frequently spoken about swapping nights of excess for walking, cycling and even hiking up mountains with his kids.

But he has also endured a string of other health issues in recent years – suffering from arthritis, enduring panic attacks, and battling a thyroid problem.

Going back almost half a century, Shaun started going to Salford pubs around where he grew up at the age of 12 – and the first drug he ever took was amphetamine.

He left school at the age of 15 to pursue a career as a postman – but his career in the postal service was cut short when he ended up biting a dog while on his first ever round.

The singer was on LSD while working and was attacked by a dog. Rather than run away, Shaun decided to fight back and bit the hound during their fight.

“Only fair. I did to the dog what it was trying to do to me,” he told The Sun. “I had dropped a tab of acid probably to relieve the boredom then on the round as I was stepping up to be promoted to a postman, this terrier dog at a pub I delivered to, tried to attack me.

“So I thought I am not having this, I grabbed it, bit it on its head threw it down and gave a kick up the bum.”

Unluckily for Shaun, another postman witnessed the remarkable clash and reported him to their bosses, so he ended up getting fired.

Shaun was having the time of his life


( Mirrorpix)

Shaun has been very open about his drug-taking days, but the band did try to hide it with their not-so-secret codenames – referring to heroin as ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’.

In a meeting with EMI in 1994, he said to have walked out just as the Mondays were about to sign a £1.7million contract, telling executives he was “going for a KFC”, but never returned and the deal fell through.

When arrested by police in Jersey in 1989 for cocaine possession, Ryder was asked if he wanted an advocate. He replied: “I don’t want no poncy southern drinks”.

Arguably, Shaun’s most hellraising period came during recording sessions for the Happy Monday’s ill-fated 1992 album Yes Please.

With Ryder heavily addicted to heroin, the band’s manager shipped the group out to Barbados to finish the already much-delayed record at reggae star Eddy Grant’s house.

McGough had chosen the Caribbean island due to it being completely clean of smack, but while this was true it was unfortunately in the midst of a major crack cocaine epidemic.

Within 48 hours of the Mondays arriving, the band had managed to develop a new drug dependency with Ryder eventually racking up a habit of up to 50 rocks a day.

Hearing rumours of crack use spiralling out of control, their worried managed Tony Wilson flew to Barbados to sort things out.

Shaun performing with his buddy Bez


( FilmMagic)

The group soon ran out of money, prompting them to start flogging the studio’s equipment before holding the master tapes ransom from their record label Factory

Wilson later claimed that, as his plane was coming into land, he saw Ryder and Bez wheeling one of Grant’s sofas down the road to trade for drugs.

One of the Happy Mondays even claimed they once hosted a wild four-day party with sex shows and dwarfs.

Rowetta, who recorded and toured with the band from 1990, admitted they lived up to the mantra of ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’.

“The lifestyle we had back then was non-stop. We really were 24-hour party people. It was every day of the year. It was too wild.

“It was too mad. Everything was too extreme. We used to stay out for days. When you’re young and you’re having fun that’s OK,” she told Daily Star Sunday in 2019.

Rowetta recalled that eventually the body just wanted to sleep. She explained: “Usually it was just a couple of nights of partying because you get tired and you have to go to bed eventually.

“But when we played at Manumission in Ibiza in 1999 we had a party at our hotel that went on for four days.

“Howard Marks was there, there were dwarfs doing all sorts and there were sex shows everywhere. It was just weird and wacky and wonderful.”

Rowetta in concert with Shaun in 1990


( Peter Brooker/REX/Shutterstock)

Rowetta also recalled a time when Shaun was heavily into drugs and was often unable to walk due the effects of the substances.

She continued: “I remember me and Shaun seeing our mates coming towards us and noticing that they were struggling to walk. They’d just discovered ketamine. “When you see what that drug does to people it’s terrible.”

But Shaun made a drastic change when he married his long-term love Joanne in March 2010 – and decided to kick the drugs for good.

It was Joanne and their daughters who helped him get off drugs for good and bounce back from debt problems.

Shaun credited his two daughters with her with helping him kick heroin, saying: “I don’t even think about drugs. And when I’m not working, I’m in bed by 11pm.”

As well as wanting to be a good dad for his family, Shaun finally ditched the drugs by cycling for a staggering 15 hours every day.

“It was cycling that got me off drugs,” he explained. “I’d get on my bike very early in the morning and keep cycling until very late at night, day after day, until it was out of the system. I was pedalling from 8am until 11pm.”

Shaun is often asked about his drug-taking days, but always say he is happy with how his life is now.

Shaun credits wife Joanne with helping him kick the drugs


( David Fisher/REX)

Shaun is glad he ditched the drugs


( Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

“People ask if I miss the old days. Well, no. It was brilliant but that was then and this is now and I like now too,” said Shaun.

“When I hit 40 I thought, ‘Wait a minute, your kids are growing up, you’re not young anymore yet you’re living the same life you was at 18

“I had lots of goes in rehab but it never worked, I didn’t really want it to. “I never thought I was in danger land. I partied and took lots of drugs but was never an intravenous user.

“So, to me, if I wasn’t banging away with needles, and smoking heroin, that was fine. But I was lucky to have lived in a rock ’n’ roll bubble.

“The pals I grew up with that didn’t are either doing 21 years in prison or they’re dead.”

Shaun is still taking pills these days, but not the ones he was doing back in the day as they are medicinal ones to help his ailments

“I’m on so many f*****g drugs I rattle when I walk,” he confessed in August 2019. “I have to take all sorts of bleedin’ stuff for all me different ailments.”

And his backstage rider while performing with the band is a lot less hardcore than it used to be – and after parties now involve slippers and bed.

Shaun has come a long way


( Popperfoto via Getty Images)

“Just s**t loads of chocolate really,” he confessed. “It used to be sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Now it’s just rock ’n’ roll“… and the wife is gutted.

“After a gig I’m straight off stage, into me slippers and back to the hotel room to watch the news.”

It’s not all been good for Shaun, who in July last year shared details of the pain he is experiencing in his testicles caused by two cysts and said he is taking painkillers daily to cope with his condition.

Shaun regretted not having the cysts removed before lockdown – although he has been reassured by doctors that the growths are not cancerous.

Speaking to The Sun, Shaun said: “I had one, now I’ve got f***ing two, and they are an absolute pain. I just keep taking the tablets and painkillers as they are hitting the nerves in my b**ks.”

And giving a verdict on what the pain is like, he added: “It’s like having really bad toothache in your balls. I can have the growth chucked out but I should’ve gone before lockdown.”

Shaun has joked he is taking ‘more pills now’ than in he ever did recreationally in the past.

The singer told Daily Star last month: “It’s because I don’t have a thyroid, mine was underactive which makes you fat and bald but once that goes then everything starts to grate down and you have to take lots of tablets.

“And I don’t produce testosterone now so I’m on more pills now than I was in 1988.”

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