Irish Daily Mail
The man who cured A-list celebrities
Controversial and f lawed, Beechy was once...
EVEN by the standards of showbusiness, the man once credited as the late Dolores O’Riordan’s saviour cuts a flamboyant figure.
It is more than two decades since Cranberries singer Dolores – who was found dead in a London hotel earlier this week at the age of 46 – started suffering from crippling anxiety attacks that left her unable to sleep or eat properly. She eventually turned to psychotherapist Beechy Colclough, a former musician who had previously had addiction issues.
Years later Dolores was in little doubt regarding how much he had helped her. Speaking in 2008, she said: ‘He made me feel that it wasn’t me who was nuts, just the world around me. He said, “It’s your life. Stop being famous and get away.” So I did.’
But Beauchamp Owen Colclough, whose list of celebrity clients included Elton John, Michael Jackson, John Thaw, Kate Moss, Robbie Williams and Caroline Aherne, is every bit as controversial as he is colourful. Now approaching his 70th birthday he was one of eight children born into a Catholic family in Belfast, although he later said that he ‘never really felt part of it there’.
His late father was an alcoholic who worked as a tailor. By the age of 14, Colclough was himself a regular drinker. That he had a problem only started to become apparent after he joined a local rock group as their drummer.
He later recalled how drinking before a gig helped cure his preshow nerves – and while alcohol remained his principal drug of choice, he also started using amphetamines and LSD. After the band split up following a booze-drenched tour of US army bases in Europe, Colclough’s drinking got him kicked out of the group he subsequently joined.
THE years that followed were largely made up of aimless drifting. Colclough first went to the Channel Island of Guernsey, supposedly in search of seasonal work but mainly because he had heard alcohol was cheap and the pubs stayed open all day.
From there he backpacked around Europe, occasionally ending up in hospital to dry out. Aged 35, he eventually ended up undergoing a six-week recovery programme at a rehab centre in Devon, south-west England. The move was prompted after he woke up under a lamp post one morning to find a dog urinating on him.
Colclough returned to Guernsey and got a job as a kitchen porter in a newly opened St Pierre Park Hotel. He quickly rose through the ranks, became a chef and was put in charge of the hotel’s brasserie.
After about two years at the hotel, Colclough began training as an addiction counsellor and quickly made his mark. By the mid-Nineties, he had a weekly slot on GMTV and was seeing patients at his discreetly located clinic off London’s Harley Street.
The client most associated with him is Elton John, who had suffered various problems with alcohol, cocaine, overeating and bulimia. The singer wrote a preface for Colclough’s 1993 book, Tomorrow I’ll Be Different, in which he said the two of them had ‘become dear friends’. Elton wrote: ‘He always emphasises the positive side of my character: he has encouraged me to be me and not to be apologetic about it. I am now convinced that those of us who are too proud, too arrogant or too frightened to ask for help need people like Beechy to nourish us and help us claw our way back into existence.’
It later emerged that he had given intensive therapy sessions to Michael Jackson in a bid to wean him off an addiction to painkillers. The pair were initially put in touch when a worried Elizabeth Taylor contacted Elton, who reportedly assured her that Colclough was ‘the best man in the world’.
The late John Thaw, much-loved star of The Sweeney and Inspector Morse, was another patient. In her autobiography, The Two Of Us, Thaw’s actress wife Sheila Hancock told how he went to Colclough in a last-ditch attempt to conquer his alcoholism.
She wrote: ‘Beechy knew that he had to get John’s confidence in the first one-and-a-half hours, so he used every ounce of his skill and energy to grab John’s attention. He understood how John felt. He had been there himself. Similar backgrounds. Beechy told John, “You’re a miserable bugger but you’re making yourself 50 times more miserable with drink”.’
She added: ‘After one week – just ten hours – Beechy had changed his life forever. John never touched another drink again. Beechy’s method is unique to him. It is propelled by a profound hatred of the harm done by alcohol.’
But Colclough was heading for a spectacular fall from grace. In 2006 he was struck off the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy register after several female patients claimed that he had seduced them.
One of the women, secretary Janet Bell, told how she went to see him because of binge-drinking and an eating disorder. She described how Colclough put on New Age music and burned incense during the hour-long sessions, each of which began with a hug.
HE subsequently offered to massage her as she was suffering from a back problem. Ms Bell told how he started touching her ‘more intimately during the massages’ in the weeks that followed, until they eventually had sex about a year later.
‘I should have ended it there and then, but, bizarrely, his wanting to have sex with me made me feel special,’ she said later. ‘I was so in need of affection at that time, I think I would have taken anything. Also, part of me – I’m shamed to say – felt a little excited that Beechy Colclough, therapist to the stars, wanted sex with me.
‘When he used to tell me about the famous people he mixed with, I’d think: “Wow! I have the same therapist as so-and-so.” He would tell me what his celebrity clients had told him, saying to me: “I’ll tell you this because you are such a special person.” His normal rate was £120 an hour, which famous people might pay, but he charged me only £25, and when we started having sex he would say I didn’t need to pay at all.’
Eight years ago Colclough relaunched his music career, this time fronting his own band as a singer and guitarist. He has played gigs around London and reportedly recorded material for a US soap opera. His Facebook page shows a YouTube link to a new song recorded last September.
Despite all that has happened, it seems he still yearns for the limelight. But perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Colclough told an interviewer in 1995 he loved counselling work as it appealed to ‘the performer in me’. Asked what he did in therapy, he said: ‘I go into the darkness and come out the other side.’