Sometimes you think you’ve heard every incredible Bez tale and then he reveals that he once casually hid out in a North African cave for a few weeks.
In a new interview with The Guardian, the Happy Mondays percussionist/dancer discussed his wild teenager years travelling the world before he joined Shaun Ryder’s band in 1985.
“By the time I was about 19, I decided I didn’t want to get caught up in the sort of shit I was doing again, so thought the best thing I could do was to have a huge adventure and go travelling,” he said.
Bez then recalled a particularly memorable stretch of time spent in Morocco. “I lived in Morocco for a bit and was shoplifting just to survive; pinching bars of chocolate. I got chased out of town and had to hide in a cave for three weeks until the money I’d been waiting for arrived. You create your own reality, and travelling created one that completely changed my whole outlook on life.”
There really are no words. Maybe that’s how Bez became such a groovy dancer for the Happy Mondays – there probably wasn’t a lot else to do in a darkened cave for almost a month.
Bez – real name Mark Berry – also fondly remembered travel experiences with his other band Black Grape. “The US immigration authorities had kicked Black Grape out for smoking weed before a gig,” he revealed. “One minute we were sitting in Central Park taking in the smoke with a beautiful view of the twin towers – the next we were surrounded by police. I found the whole thing quite funny.
He continued: “Cuba had just opened up to the west again – we were one of the first planes landing in the country – and it was like walking through a war zone. Everything was crumbling; it was a right old state. But families would cook you a meal in return for a bit of money.
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In the end we were banned from America, so the press had to come to Cuba to interview us. The journalists were all shitting themselves in fear of what might happen to them, but everyone in Cuba was so lovely to us. One of my favourite memories is sitting at the back of one of Hemingway’s favourite bars with mojitos and big fat cigars. It was unbelievable.”
Bez is currently a long way away from his chaotic travelling days – he’s competing in the U.K. reality skating competition Dancing on Ice.
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