A few months ago I had a full head of hair. Now I look in the mirror and I see Uncle Fester
Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder talks to MARION McMULLEN about going from indie rock to hip op as he prepares to go under the surgeon’s knife
‘I’M breathing,” says Shaun Ryder with a dry chuckle when asked how he is doing these days?
The Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman has been having a tough time on the health front, but is determined to get back on his feet... with a little surgical help.
“I’ve got a hip operation coming up and I had my pre-med the other day,” he reveals. “They’ve got to break the bone and put a metal replacement inside or whatever it is they use these days. I’ve got to be back walking again as soon as possible because I’ve got work lined up and,” he adds with a laugh “my wife wants me out of the house as soon as she can.
“I was going to go private because otherwise you can wait for years, but I went to see the specialist and he said he could do it for me on the National Health so it’s all go.
“In two years time I’ve got to get the left one done as well, but the right one is really bad so we’re doing that one first. My Mum needed to have both hips done so I think it must run in the family. It needs to
be done though. It’s got really bad and I can’t do anything at the moment. I can’t even take the dog, Malcolm the beagle, for a walk. It’s doing my head in. I’m a real mess. I did Celebrity Mastermind recently and had to limp to the black chair.” Salford’s famous son is also facing another problem at the moment after losing all his body hair following regular testosterone injections for an underactive thyroid.
“A few months ago I had a full head of hair now I look in the mirror and I see Uncle Fester,” he says in dismay, but can’t resist jokingly adding: “I just have to avoid black polo necks.”
Shaun goes on: “I’ve no eyebrows, no eyelashes. I’ve not even got any hair on my legs. It’s supposed to come back and I’ve had injections in my head and eyebrow, but so far nothing.
“I don’t shave anymore. I’ve got no moustache or beard. I never had anything wrong with me until I hit my 50s.
“The closest I ever had was withdrawal symptoms.”
The father-of-six turns 57 in August and says: “I had my first panic attack in Hong Kong when I was around 51 or 52. I didn’t know what it was. I’d not come across anything like that in my life. I got into the hotel and I couldn’t breathe.”
He adds with feeling: “If I’d had it when I was 21 I wouldn’t have had a career. They put me on tablets for anxiety and depression and stuff like that, but I didn’t have depression. It was all caused by this thyroid problem.”
Shaun sighs: “It’s s**t being older. I want to be fit and healthy by the time I’m 60. Mentally I’m better than ever, but physically it’s s**t. The hip started to go last year and I don’t want to be wheeled on stage. I’ve been going on and leaving sticks at the side of the stage and hoping I don’t fall off.”
The Happy Mondays lived the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but Shaun laughs: “It’s just rock ‘n’ roll now... the sex and drugs have gone.”
The I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here favourite is said to have sworn more than 5,000 times during his 2010 appearance on the reality TV show and he was banned for life from live appearances on Channel 4 after swearing on two TGI Friday shows in the 1990s.
Now Shaun is focused on getting back on his feet for the Happy Mondays Greatest Hits tour later this year.
The 29-date tour sees Shaun back on the road with fellow band members Bez, singer Rowetta, drummer Gary Whelan, bassist Paul Ryder, guitarist Mark Day and MD and musician Dan Broad.
They will be performing timeless hits such as Step On, Kinky Afro, Hallelujah, Judge Fudge and 24 Hour Party People, among many others.
“We’re playing better than ever and we like it better than ever,” says Shaun. “We’re really enjoying it; I always knew Happy Mondays would last. When I signed up to the indie music thing, I signed up for life.”
With two young daughters, Shaun admits the music being played at home can be a little odd these days.
“At the moment I’m into everything on Capital Radio. There’s some absolute garbage, but I like some of it and my daughters listen to Hannah Montana, Taylor Swift and Little Mix so that’s what I get to hear at home. When they are teens then maybe they’ll be going out to watch indie bands.”
Meanwhile, Shaun is counting down to his hip op. “They don’t even do morphine on release any more for pain relief,” he says in mock horror, before adding with a laugh “that’s probably because of morons like me around.”
The Happy Mondays Greatest Hits Tour launches on October 23. Go to alttickets.com/ happy-mondays-tickets for tour and ticket details.
Shuan Ryder is about to have a hip operation and is still hoping his hair will grow back after thyroid treatment
Shaun in 2015 before his medical problems
Shaun with the Happy Mondays in 2012