The unheard hero on The Brit Box is Bez, the freaky dancing member of Happy Mondays who took a copious amount of drugs during the band's heyday "because itâ€™s my job!" Madchesterâ€™s great mascot originally joined the group as a poor excuse for a percussionist. Seeing as how Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder barely moved onstage, Bez's loose and wild dancing quickly became the focal point of the band's live show and his musical contribution was scaled down to maracas. A picture of Bez doing his wide-eyed freak-out embodied the alternative dance, baggy pants spirit of the Mondays, so even if he wasnâ€™t on record like a proper bandmate, he looked a lot more Madchester than the sour faced musicians in the band and remains tied with Ryder as the group's most identifiable member.
Bez followed Ryder onto Black Grape and then back to the Mondays for two revivals. Most of the globe stopped listening after the first Black Grape album but the UK, driven by nostalgia, paid a little more attention. Even if the Mondays weren't making the charts anymore, Bez was never to be forgotten and entered British slang as a synonym for drunk and/or stoned behavior ("Nobody would talk to me because I was pulling a Bez"). In 1998, he released his autobiography Freaky Dancin': Me and the Mondays. Then, in 2005, in an effort to pay off his tax bills, he competed in the UK reality television series Celebrity Big Brother and won, beating both lingerie model Caprice and Flavor Flav's ex-girlfriend Brigitte Nielsen. Since then he's released the two-CD collection Bez's Madchester Anthems: Sorted Tunes from Back in the Day and helped to set a world record for maracas shaking in March 2006 by joining 405 of his mates in for a huge version of the Mondays' "Step On" in downtown Manchester. Lately, he's taken some shots at "lightweights" like Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse in the British tabloids. On Doherty: "He spends more time in rehab than he does taking drugs for fuck's sake." Rave on, Bez!