‘Two or three more paychecks to go before being homeless again’

If the typical rock star memoir is just an excuse for said rock star to indulge in some tall tales, Bez’s new book, to buzz, is the Empire State Building. This might be the most attention-grabbing addition in the entire history of the genre, because almost all of it is so impossible, so crazy, that you drop it and read: no, definitely not. ?

A stop-gap tour of Mark Berry’s 58 years on earth, urchin behavior, homelessness, drugs, Happy Mondays, more drugs, a fatal motorcycle accident, new teeth, kidnapping, bankruptcy, prison, reality TV working, standing to be a Member of Parliament and the Zen pleasures of beekeeping. It is remarkable enough that he is still here today to tell all this; It clearly beggars belief that it has managed to do this, with many of its marbles still appearing intact.

“Ah, yes, but,” he says from his home in rural Monmouth, leaning back so far in his chair that I can see his face with a pair of nostrils you could just drive a train through, “I” I don’t think I’ve lived a remarkable life, I. His voice is deep and hard like stones hitting a rock.

“It’s just life, innit? I know people who have lived lives of high adventure; I’ve always thought mine was duller than theirs.” This is plain nonsense, for even a cursory glance at the book reveals bits and pieces thrown aside that might make up the main feature of other books. At one point, he writes, “I was in the hospital when I came to.” “I [then] I caught the MRSA superbug, really bad king.” He was in a coma for a month. “Multiple organ failure, heart failure, all kinds of crap. I was given the last rites.”

When he attends an ayahuasca ceremony, he is told, “We have never, ever met a person with as many hallucinations as you.” And after recovering from jaundice, pleurisy and hepatitis B, he is held hostage by “some c**t with a gun in my face”, more on that later.

Because Bez is an unreliable narrator himself, the book often lends paragraphs to his Happy Monday companion Shaun Ryder, himself an unreliable narrator. “You could drop it from a jumbo jet at 50,000 feet and it would land on the mattress and fly away,” Ryder says of Bez.

Bez and family on a fishing trip in Cornwall (Image: Provided)

Bez himself just shrugs. “Honestly, I would like to be more normal and traditional. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t have been like that.”

to buzz not his first memoir. That would be it Freaky Dancin’, written 22 years earlier and inevitably covering the same territory. So why else, why now? He smiles. “Mainly financial reasons. I just got married and it’s not cheap, ‘specially when you want to throw a big party.

Of course, music has always created unlikely characters, and there’s a compelling argument to be made that the most interesting music comes from the most chaotic individuals. Happy Monday was the epitome of chaos, a type of movement noted for its pirate behavior in the early 1990s. While Bez—not a songwriter, not a singer, and certainly not a musician—was there just to dance and shake the maracas with a thud in E, he became an interior piece, even the center of attention. An easier path to lasting fame has yet to be identified.

He was born in Salford in 1964, the son of a nurse, and most likely the son of a high-ranking police officer, when his son grew up with the cunning escape of modern times. His sister studied at Oxford and became a lawyer. “Some members of my family are, yes, highly intelligent, but unfortunately I missed those kinds of people,” he shrugged. “I was the unruly, difficult me. In those days nobody was diagnosed with ADHD or ADD or any of the other D evils people talk about now…”

Recently diagnosed with ADHD, Ryder insists Bez has the same condition, but Bez refuses to get tested. “Not interesting, dude.”

Bez in Dancing on Ice with Angela Egan (Photo: Matt Frost/ITV)

After being evicted from the family home, he lived on the streets, dealing drugs and aliases. His friends introduced him to Ryder – then in the process of putting together a band – convinced they would be kindred spirits. They were. During early Monday appearances, Ryder would later ask people to come up to him and say he was helping a “special needs kid” by letting Bez dance with him. Bez found it funny. Together they surfed the Madchester wave, and when it finally exploded, few were surprised: explosion had always been embedded in their DNA. No matter, because Ryder brought him back on vibes duty for his next project, Black Grape.

When they too crashed and burned, Bez reverted to his old habits – short-term trading. But drugging someone else’s patch almost proved his end.

“When I was kidnapped and held at gunpoint and machete, that was a big turning point,” he says. The ordeal lasted only a few hours, but it clearly affected him. “I didn’t want to continue living like this. I knew I had to do something else.”

This is when it branched off in a way that has never been replicated by any human that has ever lived. First, he appeared and won Celebrity Big Brother (2005) alongside Germaine Greer and Brigitte Nielsen to avoid bankruptcy.

“I’d never even watched the show before, so I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for,” she notes. Five years later, he served a month in jail for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, which he vehemently denied at the time and continues to do today.

Bez Happy Monday with Shaun Ryder (Image: Stuart Mostyn/Redferns)

“I think there was a failure there,” he says, “because I expected the case to be found in my favor. There was no evidence of an attack. My word was against it [his girlfriend’s] word.” According to Bez, today the two have a good relationship and have a son. “But I fought the law and the law let me down.” Whatever he says, the disturbing fact is that he was convicted. According to a 2021 report, three-quarters of all domestic violence cases are closed early without the suspect being charged.

“I wrote a letter [then home secretary] Theresa May and all,” Bez continues. In a thesaurus-assisted letter in his book, he says he won’t pay taxes and won’t pay more taxes once he’s off the grid. May actually wrote back. “You might get in trouble for that, Mr. Berry!” “But I wanted to be a thorn [the system’s] side,” he says. “Fracking was my path.”

Frustrated by the rise of fracking, he founded the We Are Reality Party and ran for Parliament (number of votes: 800). He did more TV (MasterChef, Dancing on Ice, Gogglebox), a bit of boxing, a bit of DJing and then beekeeping. “Honey is fantastic.”

Life remained messy, unpredictable, but often well-paid. He fell in love (with singer Firuzeh Razavi) and together they set down permanent roots near Hay-on-Wye, while he kept his eyes and ears open for future opportunities.

Sometimes, he admits, though he prefers the term “low spirits,” he treats himself by reading books ranging from David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas to Return of the Warriors: The Toltec Teachings Volume 1. By Theun Mares, an “action-based approach to life” guide that sounds both complex and sophisticated, but which Bez describes as “brilliant”. Today, he remains a recreational drug user but eats healthily and extols the virtues of vitamin C and apple cider vinegar.

The father of three and grandfather of one says: “Funnily enough, I’ve had a charmed life. But you know, like everyone else, I get two or three paychecks to be homeless again, and I never forget that. I worry about putting food on the table every day, so I’m on the job market. I am open to suggestions.”

to buzz Published by Hachette at £21.99

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