Shaun RyderView In iTunes
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Shaun Ryder was the poster boy for rock & roll excess in the late '80s and early '90s, at least in the U.K. As the potty-mouthed, drug-using leader of the Happy Mondays, Ryder was voted most likely to become an international star as well as the next rock & roll casualty in pre-Brit-pop Great Britain. Ryder was born in Manchester, England, on August 23, 1962. In 1982, Ryder formed the Happy Mondays, drawing upon '60s psychedelia, '70s funk, and '80s house music. The group released its debut LP, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), in 1987, but it didn't have the impact of its follow-up, Bummed, appearing a year later. Bummed thrust the Happy Mondays into the open arms of indie purists who once choked on anything on the dance charts. Ryder's sleazy, rap-influenced vocal style was more punk than funk, reflecting the street talk of club-hopping Manchester youths. However, it didn't translate well in America, as the band's third full-length, 1990's Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches reached the country on a wave of hype that sunk once commercial radio refused to bite. While "Step On" received some attention on alternative stations — then only a handful — the Happy Mondays' real audience was in England, as Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches hit number one on the U.K. charts and Ryder's love of narcotics provided fodder for the tabloids. Ryder's heroin addiction and the lackluster sales of 1992's critically roasted Yes, Please tore the band apart. In 1993, Ryder formed Black Grape, further developing the Happy Mondays' party-all-the-time sound with a greater emphasis on rap and funk. Black Grape's first album, 1995's It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah, debuted at number one in England. Not exactly somebody that people would call a gifted singer, Ryder's unapologetically unpolished and soulless, accent-heavy vocals continued to inspire British musicians such as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and the Streets.