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Happy Mondays are an English alternative rock band from Salford, Greater Manchester. Formed in 1985, the band's original line-up was Shaun Ryder on lead vocals, his brother Paul Ryder on bass, lead guitarist Mark Day (aka "Moose" or "Cowhead"), keyboardist Paul Davis (aka P.D), and drummer Gary Whelan. Bez would later join the band onstage during a live performance after befriending Shaun Ryder (known to him as "X") and served as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta Satchell joined the band to provide backing vocals in the early 90s. They have stated that the band name is a take on the title of New Order's song, "Blue Monday."
The first official release from Happy Mondays was the "Forty Five E.P.", often incorrectly called the "Delightful E.P." after its first track. It was released on Factory Records in 1985. Manchester pop impresario Tony Wilson discovered the Mondays (then managed by Phil Saxe) at a battle of the bands contest held at his Haçienda nightclub. The story goes that Wilson signed them to his label, Factory Records, even though they came in last. Their first album, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), debuted in 1987. A number of other albums followed, most of which were released in the United States on the Elektra Records label. By the late 1980s, the Happy Mondays were an important part of the Madchester music scene and personified rave culture. Shaun Ryder fought against a serious drug problem which typified the scene and the era.
Musically, the band fused indie pop guitars with a rhythmic style that owed much to house music, techno and northern soul. Much of their music was remixed by popular DJs, emphasizing the dance influences even further. In terms of style and dress, they crossed hippy fashion and ideals with 1970s glamour. Sartorially and musically, the band helped to encourage the psychedelic revival associated with acid house. One of their most popular songs was "Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer)", featuring a surreal duet between Ryder and country music legend Karl Denver.
The Mondays disbanded in 1992, and Shaun Ryder and Bez formed Black Grape with ex-Paris Angels guitarist "Wags" (who would later go on to serve in the 1999-2000 reincarnation of the Mondays) and ex-Ruthless Rap Assassins star Kermit. Seven years passed, but in 1999 Happy Mondays reformed, minus Paul Davis and Mark Day. In their place were Wags and a number of other musicians close to Shaun Ryder. However, the reunion with a world tour and the release of a new single, "The Boys are Back in Town," was to be short-lived. The single sunk in the charts, reaching only number 30 in the UK singles chart. It was also dropped from the live set after proving difficult for the band to perform live. In 2000 the band called it a day after providing support for Oasis on their "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" tour.
The band is featured in the 2002 movie 24 Hour Party People, with Danny Cunningham as Shaun Ryder. Paul Ryder had a cameo role as a gangster and Rowetta (who sang for the band on Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and Yes Please!) appeared in the film as herself. 2004 saw another reformation, comprising Bez, Gary Whelan and Shaun Ryder, following the latter's unsuccessful solo career. (Paul Ryder was not present, having sworn to never perform with his brother again following the 2000 break-up.) The trio of original members were joined by new guitarist Kav Sandhu, with the rest of his band Sonic Audio serving as members of the Mondays live line-up (bassist Mikey Shine, keyboard player Dave Parkinson, guitarist Jonn Dunn and Poss on decks). This new version of the group released a live DVD that year of a show in Barcelona, and rumours abounded that the band was recording a new album. The Mondays played a variety of festival dates in 2005 (including Glastonbury), capping it off with a concert at the Manchester Evening News Arena in their hometown. Backing singers on the tour included legendary singers Angie Brown and Ron Caroll. In June 2006 the Mondays performed another gig in Liverpool, and on Sunday 30th July 2006 they were special guests at The Fuji Rock Festival, a 3 day festival held at the Naeba Ski Resort in Japan. They performed a 60 minute set, starting with "Loose Fit" and ending with "24 Hour Party People".
In early August of 2006, the band announced that they had completed their first album in 14 years with producers Sunny Levine and Howie B. As of yet, the album is untitled and there is no tentative release date, the band have recently signed to sanctuary records. A new single "Playground Superstar", from the soundtrack for the football film Goal! was released a few months prior to completion of the album.