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Happy Mondays are an English alternative rock band from Salford, Greater Manchester. Formed in 1980, the band's original line-up was Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul Ryder (bass), Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Gary Whelan (drums). Mark "Bez" Berry later joined the band onstage as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta joined the band as a guest vocalist in 1990.
The group's work bridged the Manchester independent rock music of the 1980s and the emerging UK rave scene, drawing influence from acid house, funk, and psychedelia to pioneer the Madchester sound. They experienced their commercial peak with the releases Bummed (1988) and Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches (1990), with the latter going platinum in the UK. They disbanded in 1993, and have reformed several times in subsequent decades.
The first official release from Happy Mondays was the "Forty Five EP", often called the "Delightful EP" after its first track. It was released on Factory Records in September 1985.
Manchester music impresario Tony Wilson discovered them (then managed by Phil Saxe) at a battle of the bands contest held at his Hacienda nightclub. Their first album, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), debuted in 1987 and was produced by John Cale. This was followed by two classic albums; Bummed in 1988, produced by Martin Hannett, then Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990 produced by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne which went platinum in the UK selling more than 350,000 copies. This put the band firmly on the map as one of the most influential bands to come out of the UK in the early 1990s. The album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Singles "Step On" and "Kinky Afro" from this album both reached number 5 in the UK singles chart. Yes Please! followed in 1992, produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, recorded at Eddy Grant's studio in Barbados. By the late 1980s, the Happy Mondays were an important part of the Manchester music scene and personified rave culture. Numerous world tours meant the band had international success as well as massive success in their home country. The line up of the band during this first and most important ten year phase never changed, and the six original members Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan, Paul Davis, Mark Day and Mark "Bez" Berry remained a tight unit until the first incarnation came to an end in 1994. Earlier that year, the band had appeared on the bill at the 1990 Glastonbury Festival.
In late 1990, Paul McCartney stated:
I saw the Happy Mondays on TV, and they reminded me of the Beatles in their 'Strawberry Fields' phase.
Musically, the band fused indie pop guitars with a rhythmic style that owed much to house music, Krautrock, funk and northern soul. Much of their music was remixed by popular DJs, emphasizing the dance influences even further. In terms of style and dress, they crossed hippy fashion and ideals with 1970s glamour. Sartorially and musically, the band helped to encourage the psychedelic revival associated with acid house. One of their most popular songs was "Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer)", featuring a surreal duet between Ryder and Karl Denver. In February 1991, Happy Mondays played at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and famously went to meet Ronnie Biggs in Brazil with Piers Morgan, who at the time was a writer for The Sun newspaper. The Mondays also influenced many bands around the Northwest and beyond, including the Stone Roses, Oasis and the Charlatans. A multi-city US tour followed with the group returning home early in May 1991. However, by July that year they revealed details of a fourteen track 'official bootleg' live album, Baby Big Head, recorded in Leeds. The official record label release, Live followed later in the year.
Happy Mondays disbanded in 1993, and Shaun Ryder and Bez formed Black Grape with ex-Paris Angels guitarist "Wags" (who would later go on to serve in the 1999–2000 reincarnation of the Mondays) and ex-Ruthless Rap Assassins star Kermit. Seven years passed, but in 1999 Happy Mondays re-formed, with founding members Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan and Mark "Bez" Berry minus Paul Davis and Mark Day. In the place of Day and Davis were Wags and a number of other session musicians including Ben Leach who had once been a member of The Farm, Percussionist Lea Mullen and rapper "Nuts". Also joining the new line-up was soul diva Rowetta Satchell (who sang back-up on Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches, and who would go on to have solo success). The band toured extensively in the UK and internationally, selling out the 20,000 capacity Manchester Arena and two nights at Brixton Academy and released of a new single, a cover version of the Thin Lizzy hit "The Boys Are Back in Town". The single reached number 24 in the UK Singles Chart. They provided support for Oasis on their "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" arena tour, played at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, numerous European festivals including T in the Park and also toured Australia the same year. Although critically acclaimed and playing to sell-out crowds, the band once more ceased their activity in 2001 following the departure of bass player and founding member Paul Ryder.
A fictionalised version of the band is featured in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, with Danny Cunningham as Shaun Ryder and Paul Popplewell as Paul Ryder. Paul Ryder himself had a cameo role in the film as a gangster and Rowetta (who sang for the band on Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and Yes Please!) appeared in the film as herself.
2004 saw another re-formation, comprising original members Bez, Whelan and Shaun Ryder along with another group of musicians. Shaun Ryder recruited Kav Sandhu to join on guitar & bring in a new group of musicians. Kav brought on-board bassist Mikey Shine, keyboard player Dave Parkinson & guitarist Jonn Dunn. Dave Parkinson was later replaced by Dan Broad. Backing singers on the first tour were performed by Angie Brown and Ron Carroll. from 2004 to 2006 the band were managed by Danny Newman, MD at London Club Turnmills brother of London Club DJ Tall Paul. Rowetta's backing vocal role was now being performed by Julie E. Gordon who toured with the band until 2010. Paul Ryder was not present, having sworn to never perform with his brother again following the 2000 break-up, and formed his own band Big Arm. The Mondays released a live DVD that year of a show in Barcelona. The Mondays played a variety of festival dates in 2005 (including Global Gathering), capping it off with a concert at the Manchester Arena in their hometown.
In June 2006, Happy Mondays performed in Liverpool, and on 30 July 2006 they were special guests at the Fuji Rock Festival. In August 2006, the band announced that they had completed their first album in fourteen years, with producers Sunny Levine and Howie B, and had signed to Sanctuary Records. A single "Playground Superstar", from the soundtrack for the football film Goal!, was released a few months prior to completion of the new album, Uncle Dysfunktional released in mid 2007. on Noel Gallaghers label Big Brother Records.
Happy Mondays performed before another re-formed act, Rage Against the Machine, at the 2007 Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. They were introduced by Tony Wilson. Bez missed the show because he could not get into the US due to "passport" issues. The band then toured throughout the summer of 2007 including a trip to the Numusic Festival in Norway. They played Splendour in the Grass in Australia in July 2009, and the UK V Festival in August 2009.
Happy Mondays toured the USA and Canada with The Psychedelic Furs in late 2009 with Paul Ryder's son and Shaun Ryder's nephew Jake Ryder filling in for Gaz Whelan on drums.
Happy Mondays appeared at the Wizard Festival in North-East Scotland in August 2010.
This version of the band continued until 2010. Members Mikey Shine, Jonn Dunn & Dan Broad continued to back Shaun Ryder for his solo tour until 2011, surrounding the release of his autobiography.
On 29 January 2012, Shaun Ryder announced on radio station Xfm that the band would return with the original and definitive lineup of himself, his brother Paul Ryder on bass, Gary Whelan on drums, Rowetta as female vocalist, Mark Day on guitar, Paul Davis on keyboards and dancer Mark Berry. They appeared on ITV's This Morning, and were interviewed by Philip Schofield. Shaun Ryder pronounced that amends had been made, friendships reinstated and that it was just like the old days, but without the madness. They did a 13-date UK tour in May 2012, most of which were sold out, and an extra date was added at London's Brixton Academy due to the demand for tickets. The tour included other shows at the Manchester Arena, plus other dates in Bournemouth, Glasgow, Dublin, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham. To coincide with the band's reformation tour a best of album, Double Double Good was released in July 2012, as well as a live recording of the band's May 2012 gig in Brixton. The band went on to play gigs in Chile and Argentina in May 2012 and then a number of European festivals in the summer of 2012, including Ireland's Sea Sessions, Scotland's T in the Park, the band were headliners at Camp Bestival in Dorset in July 2012 and they performed at the V Festivals in August 2012. They then travelled to Majorca and Ibiza to play the Ibiza and Majorca Rocks events.
The band announced in September 2012 that they were writing their first album with the original lineup in more than 20 years.
The band played two nights at the Roundhouse, London and in Manchester in December 2012. They travelled to Dubai in April 2013 to perform and in May 2013 played gigs at Bristol's Vegfest and one in Brighton. June 2013 brought gigs at the Isle of Wight Festival and Scarborough, then in July 2013 they played at the Warrington Music Festival and at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, Surrey. They will be playing dates in Belfast, Crewe and Dublin in August 2013. In October 2013 they will travel to Spain to do gigs in Barcelona and Madrid then in November 2013 they kick off a 16 date UK tour to celebrate 25 years since their second critically acclaimed album Bummed was released, and the band plan to play most of the songs from that infamous album. The band signed to Creation Management in 2015. They have announced an international tour to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches.
In September 2015, a special programme on Watch called Singing in the Rainforest followed the band as they travelled to Panama to record a new song with an isolated tribe called the Embera. The band composed a track with members of the tribe for a performance, penning the track "Ooo La La to Panama". Although billed as the first original line-up recording since 1992, Paul Davis was not present, and no mention of him was made. Gaz Whelan confirmed via the Happy Mondays Twitter account (in answer to a question from a Twitter user named ormi_shinobi) that Davis has left the band.