How Shaun Ryder cleaned up after ‘crack island’, sex party and biting dog on LSD

From the age of 17, Shaun Ryder led a hedonistic lifestyle that became a thing of legend.

The Happy Mondays frontman admitted he was taking "every drug going" back in the band's heyday.

From trading sofas for drugs on a Caribbean island to poisoning thousands of pigeons in Manchester – stories of the band members' wild antics left people stunned.

But it eventually became too much for Shaun, who is more likely to be found playing with his kids or cycling than partying all night these days.

The larger than life singer has been sober and off drugs for the past 13 years after realising he needed to change his ways before it was too late.

At the age of just 12, Shaun was already in the Salford pubs around where he grew up – and the first drug he ever took was amphetamine.

He left school at 15 to pursue a career as a postman, starting as a post boy messenger, but it was cut short by a surreal experience while tripping on acid.

During his first ever round as a proper postman, Shaun was attacked by a dog while he was on LSD.

Not in the right state of mind, Shaun decided he would fight back and bit the terrier on the head during the scrap.

"Only fair. I did to the dog what it was trying to do to me," he told  The Sun.

He continued: "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."

He was caught out by another postman who had witnessed the spectacle and reported Shaun to the bosses – and obviously he was given the sack.

Having formed in 1980, the Happy Mondays quickly rose to be one of the most successful bands in the country.

They had massive hits in the late 80s with Step On and Kinky Afro, which meant they could fuel their epic party lifestyle.

After every gig on their Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches tour, Shaun confessed he 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, eventually leading to the original break-up of the band.

'Kentucky Fried Chicken' was the secret codename that the band referred to heroin by, which led to one particularly awkward encounter.

In a meeting with EMI in 1994, Shaun is 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".

Shaun claimed he would be back soon but never returned and the deal then fell through.

It was during for the Happy Monday’s ill-fated 1992 album Yes Please that the band got up to their most debauched behaviour.

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.

While this was the case, unfortunately the island was 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 and Shaun was racking up a habit of up to 50 rocks a day.

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

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 really were "24-hour party people", but it became too much.

Usually it was just a couple of nights of partying because you get tired and you have to go to bed eventually.

"When we played at Manumission in Ibiza in 1999 we had a party at our hotel that went on for four days," she told Daily Star Sunday in 2019.

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

After having enough of living the same life he'd had since he was a teenager, Shaun decided to kick his drug and booze habit in 2007.

"I’d had enough of living the same life I’d been living at 17. That was embarrassing," Shaun told The Sun in 2018.

"I’d out-smoked meself, out-e’d meself, out-charlied meself, out-whizzed meself, out-drunk meself."

The same year, Shaun went to the dentist for the first time in two decades and was told he needed his whole mouth reconstructed.

Costing a massive £10,000 there wasn't a single tooth that didn't need to be worked on by a dentist.

Dentist Lance Knight explained: "Shaun's teeth were in a real state. Every tooth needed something doing to it – they really were as bad as you can get."

Shaun shocked the world, and his friends and family, when he married his long-term love, Joanne, in March 2010.

He was inspired to turn his life around by Joanne and their two daughters, Lulu and Pearl, who he credits with helping him get off drugs for good.

"I’ve got grown up adult kids but I’ve also got an eight and nine-year-old. And they were my big reason for getting clean," explained Shaun.

"In ten years I’ll be 65 — officially a pensioner! And the kids will only be 18, 19. And I want to be here for them. I don’t want to be finished and f***ed."

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 he is very happy with how his life is now and would not want to go back.

"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.”

These days, the only drugs Shaun takes are medicinal pills to help his many various 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."

His backstage rider while performing withe Happy Mondays is also far less hardcore than it used to be back in the day.

And his backstage rider while performing with the band is a lot less hardcore than it used to be.

Revealing what's on the list, he said: "Just s**t loads of chocolate really.

"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."

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