Rock and roll history is riddled with cases of immense talent wasted on being wasted. Shaun Ryder, frontman for the Happy Mondays and Black Grape, is one of the more extreme cases of pop star hedonism. The Happy Mondays helped to merge dance culture with rock and roll and to make ecstasy the drug of choice in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Ryder was also the figurehead for one of the most scattershot discographies of the past 20 years. For every absolute masterpiece (the Mondays’ Bummed and Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches; Black Grape’s It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah) there was also a big letdown (the Mondays’ Yes, Please! and Black Grape’s Stupid Stupid Stupid).
The following is a documentary that aired on the BBC a few years ago. Much like Ryder’s own contradictory life, it is funny, entertaining, frustrating, and heartbreaking.