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Black Grape Biography

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Black Grape In-depth Biography

After Happy Mondays} disbanded in 1992, most observers would have guessed that the group's leader, vocalist Shaun Ryder}, would succumb to the myriad of drug addictions that hastened the breakup of the group. Instead of dying, Ryder} recouped his strengths and came back with a new band, Black Grape}, in the summer of 1995. Black Grape} were embraced by both the British public and press, making Ryder} one of the more unexpected comebacks in rock & roll} history.

Ryder} formed Black Grape} in 1993, recruiting ex-Happy Monday} Bez} (dancing, percussion), rappers Kermit} (born Paul Leveridge}) and Jed} from the Ruthless Rap Assassins}, and ex-Paris Angels} guitarist Wags}. Black Grape} began recording demos only weeks after the implosion of Happy Mondays}. Over the course of recording and writing It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah}, Ryder} recruited a number of musicians, most notably producer and bassist Danny Saber}, keyboardist/producer Stephen Lironi}, and former Bluebells} and Smiths} guitarist Gary Gannon}. Black Grape}'s debut album was recorded over a period of seven weeks in late 1994 and early 1995; after it was completed, the band signed with Radioactive Records}. The group's first single, "Reverend Black Grape,"} entered the Top Ten upon its release. The group's debut album, It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah}, was released in August of 1995. The album entered the U.K. charts at number one.

"In the Name of the Father"} and "Kelly's Heroes"} followed "Reverend Black Grape"} into the Top 20 later in 1995. Toward the end of the year, Kermit} suffered a severe case of septicemia, a form of blood poisoning caused by bad water he drank while in Mexico; although he came close to death -- bits of his heart and liver were flaking off -- he had recovered by the spring of 1996. Black Grape} were prepared to head to America early in 1996 when the group was denied entry into the country due to its members' prior drug convictions. After a couple of months, the passports were cleared and the band was admitted into the U.S. Due to his illness, Kermit} had to miss the tour, and his spot was filled by Psycho}, who became a permanent member of the band after the completion of the tour. Before Black Grape} launched their U.S. tour in spring of 1996, Bez} left the band due to financial disagreements with the record company.

In May 1996, Black Grape} returned with the single "Fat Neck,"} which entered the U.K. charts in the Top Ten; the song featured former Smiths} member Johnny Marr} on guitar. A month after the release of "Fat Neck,"} the group released its football anthem "England's Irie,"} which was recorded with Joe Strummer}. Like "Fat Neck"} before it, "England's Irie"} became a Top Ten hit. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid} followed in 1997. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

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