Bez has revealed that he once hid out in a cave for weeks after he was chased out of an area in Morocco where he’d shoplifted.
The Happy Mondays percussionist/dancer said in a new interview that he’d turned to theft as a way to survive while travelling the world in his late teens, which was before he joined the band in 1985. Bez was “mostly homeless and sofa-surfing” at the time, and had intentions to move on from petty crime, for which he had served prison time.
He told The Guardian: “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.
“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,” he said.
Elsewhere in the interview Bez – real name Mark Berry – reflected on the rebellious streak of his youth and how that carried over into his career (he also joined Black Grape in 1993).
“The US immigration authorities had kicked Black Grape out for smoking weed before a gig,” he told the publication while explaining an old picture of him posing in Cuba.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
He took to the rink in episode one of the ITV show’s 14th series, which saw him skate to Happy Mondays’ classic single ‘Step On’ alongside professional partner Angela Egan.
But on January 17, Bez confirmed that he’d since “had a positive test” and could no longer compete in the next episode.