Happy Mondays’ Bez, otherwise known as Mark Berry, is the iconic maraca-shaking dancer and mascot from the alternative rock band Happy Mondays. From the days of the late 80s-early 90s Manchester scene, Happy Mondays are renowned for thinking and working outside the creative box. Happy Mondays’ Bez’s influence on the band led them to name their second single “Freaky Dancin”, in tribute to him.
Happy Mondays were first discovered by Manchester music impresario Tony Wilson 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 of the Velvet Underground.
The release, which peaked at No. 4 in the UK Indie Charts was followed by two classic albums – “Bummed” in 1988, which peaked at No. 2 in the UK Indie Charts, and then “Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches” in 1990 produced by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne which hit No. 4 in the UK charts and 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.
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 Happy Mondays’ Bez 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.”
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