Bez

Best known for his role as the freaky dancer in the Madchester band Happy Mondays, Bez is something of a British entertainment celebrity, having made his mark not only in the alternative music scene but also as a reality television star. Born Mark Berry on April 18, 1964, he was offered a place in the Happy Mondays lineup in 1985 after he had been invited on-stage by the band during a show at the Hacienda and impressed the bandmembers with his showmanship and enthusiastic dancing. The Happy Mondays' second single, "Freaky Dancing" (1986), was in fact dedicated to Bez, whose role in the band was simply to dance on stage with maracas in hand. Though his creative input was minimal, Bez was credited on each Happy Mondays album, including Squirrel & G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) (1987), Bummed (1988), Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches (1990), and Yes, Please (1992). By the time that the band's popularity peaked in 1990 with the Top 5 hit singles "Step On" and "Kinky Afro," Bez had become a celebrity in the Madchester music scene and was fairly well known among the greater British alternative music scene. After the Happy Mondays disbanded in 1992, Bez joined frontman Shaun Ryder in the newly formed band Black Grape. The band released two albums, It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah (1995) and Stupid, Stupid, Stupid (1997), and four Top Ten hit singles before Bez departed the lineup. His autobiography, Freaky Dancin' (1998), was published soon afterward. It detailed his experiences in the music scene, most notoriously his reputation for psychedelic drug abuse. Several years later Bez formed the band Domino Bones with Monica Ward (vocals), Paul Wagstaff (guitar), Ian Watson (bass), and Simon Moore (drums). The band released a three-track single, Rattle My Head (2004), that came and went with little fanfare. In a bid to cash in on what remained of his notoriety, Bez then appeared on the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and ended up winning the competition. In the wake of the publicity, Bez released a one-off single featuring Domino Bones, One Dream (2006), that was billed as an unofficial World Cup anthem. A Bez-branded double-disc compilation, Bez's Madchester Anthems: Sorted Tunes from Back in the Day! (2006), was also released at this time.
Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

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