Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Finding Normalcy: Shaun Ryder's Perspective on ADHD and Heroin

Finding Normalcy: Shaun Ryder's Perspective on ADHD and Heroin
Tuesday, 11 June 2024 12:47

Shaun Ryder sits in front of his screen, a picture of bewilderment. His lips purse around a watermelon vape, and he takes a swig of orange Tango, his gaze fixed intently on the Zoom interface. "I've written a book, have I? See, I didn't know that," he repeats, his Mancunian drawl echoing with sincerity. "I thought it was just Q&A stuff for concert programmes. Mind you, I've published loads of books I didn't write – but somehow they all sound like me.

His grin is disarmingly innocent, framed by a set of immaculate £10,000 veneers, a contrast to the rock 'n' roll persona he once embodied. The former frontman of the Happy Mondays, now sober for 21 years, reflects on his journey from drug-addled superstardom to a life of relative stability. "I've straightened meself out," he declares proudly, though he admits to a regimen of pharmaceuticals for various ailments.

Gone are the days of excess, replaced by a world where smartphones expose every indiscretion. Ryder reminisces about the golden age of rock 'n' roll excess, where a chauffeur-driven car with drug scales in the boot awaited outside studios. "Changed times," he sighs, lamenting the loss of secrecy and mystique in the music industry.

But amid the nostalgia, there's a sense of acceptance. Ryder, now 61, acknowledges the evolution of both himself and the industry. Once propelled to stardom by hits like "Step On" and "Kinky Afro," he now navigates a different landscape, one where the allure of excess is tempered by the realities of age and accountability.

In the annals of tabloid lore, one headline from 1992 stands out, encapsulating a tumultuous episode during the recording of the LP Yes, Please, in Barbados: "two crack habits, eight car crashes, a shattered arm, a dose of gangrene, and a £10,000 rehab bill." It's hardly the stuff of a Richard Curtis film, yet the 2002 movie 24 Hour Party People did its best to capture some of the dizzying highs and lows of the Happy Mondays and their contemporaries.

Now, Shaun Ryder unveils a new chapter in his storied career with his latest book, Shaun Ryder: Happy Mondays, And Fridays, And Saturdays, And Sundays. Less an autobiography and more a mosaic of memories, it delves into the wild world of drugs, unabashed drug dealing, lean times, and the intoxicating madness of global tours. While the Happy Mondays may be synonymous with British music history, Ryder's musical journey extends beyond, with two other bands under his belt.

Black Grape, formed in 1993, stands out as his most globally successful venture, blending funk and rock into an irresistible concoction. Meanwhile, Mantra of the Cosmos, featuring maraca-player Bez, Zak Starkey from The Who, and Andy Bell from Oasis, offers "psychedelic grooves from a band of misfits, outsiders, and innovators," having graced Glastonbury stages just the year prior.

Despite his global adventures, Ryder's roots remain firmly planted in Salford, where he finds solace in family life. With six children from four marriages, he credits fatherhood and his 14-year marriage to Joanne as transformative. "I love family life. Kids. Being in the countryside. Writing songs, performing," he muses. The incessant calls of "you're twisting my melon man" or "call the cops" that once irked him on the streets have lost their sting. "I don't have a young man's ego, and that's quite liberating," he admits.

Ryder's journey hasn't been without its struggles, particularly his battle with addiction. But at 40, he found sobriety through an unconventional method: cycling from dawn to dusk until the urge subsided. It wasn't until his fifties that he was diagnosed with ADHD, shedding light on a lifetime of restless behavior. "As a kid, I'd be constantly fiddling around, itching, twitching, struggling to concentrate, but when I took heroin it made me focused," he reflects. "I'm not advising anyone to take heroin if you're ADHD, but all I can tell you is that back then it made me feel normal.

Shaun Ryder's familial landscape is marked by the pervasive presence of ADHD, a condition that manifests uniquely in each of his five afflicted children. The eldest, burdened by the weight of its impact, vows to forgo parenthood, unwilling to risk transmitting the debilitating condition. Ryder himself, ensnared in its grasp, recalls a past riddled with memory lapses so profound that without the aid of autocues, he'd find himself adrift on stage, belting out verses in disarray.

Legends of Ryder's excesses abound, tracing back to his initiation into amphetamines at a tender age of 12. His trajectory from postal worker to pop icon was abruptly truncated when, on his inaugural delivery route, he found himself entangled in a canine altercation. Confronted by a terrier's aggression, fueled by a pre-shift acid trip, Ryder's response was as audacious as it was surreal – sinking his teeth into the dog's head before delivering a swift kick in retaliation.

In his world, such actions make perfect sense, much like his inadvertent linguistic missteps. During a run-in with the law in Jersey, when offered legal representation, his disdain for the perceived southern pretense was succinctly expressed: "I don't want no poncy southern drinks.

In recent years, Ryder and his Happy Mondays comrade Bez have undergone a metamorphosis of sorts, finding a new lease on fame within the realm of reality television. From Celebrity Big Brother to I'm a Celebrity, Ryder has endured the trials of the jungle, despite his advancing age and a body besieged by ailments.

Yet, it's the cozy confines of the Celebrity Gogglebox sofa where Ryder seems most at ease, playing the straight man to Bez's quick-witted banter. A fixture in the public eye, Ryder's appearance has undergone a peculiar transformation, his once hirsute visage now devoid of hair due to a sudden onset of alopecia. Yet, he's embraced his "fooking boiled egg" appearance, finding solace in the resonance of his music with a newfound generation of fans, catalyzed by the unexpected reach of modern technology.

Despite the odds stacked against him, Shaun Ryder emerges triumphant, reveling in the finality of laughter reclaimed.

Shaun Ryder: Happy Mondays, And Fridays, And Saturdays, And Sundays" is now available, inviting readers into the kaleidoscopic world of one of Britain's most enigmatic musicians. But Ryder's storytelling prowess extends beyond the written page; his spoken-word tour, "An Evening with Shaun Ryder," promises an immersive journey through his life, music, and misadventures. From September 12th to May 2025, audiences can delve deeper into the mind of the Madchester icon as he shares anecdotes, insights, and perhaps a few unexpected twists. For tickets and more information, visit

As Shaun Ryder continues to captivate audiences with his irreverent charm and candid storytelling, "An Evening with Shaun Ryder" stands as a testament to his enduring influence on British music and culture. Whether through his memoirs or his live performances, Ryder invites us to journey alongside him, navigating the highs and lows of fame, addiction, and redemption. As the tour unfolds, one thing remains clear: Shaun Ryder's legacy is not just about the music, but about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of storytelling to transcend generations.