JOINING Spandau Ballet was a dream come true for Ross William Wild.
But 11 months after he officially took over from frontman Tony Hadley, his career-defining role took a dark, almost fatal turn.
After fulfilling the band’s touring commitments in Europe and a sold-out gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, the former West End star was “ignored” by management and claims he was banned from taking other music and theatre jobs, losing out on much needed income.
When he finally mustered the courage to quit, he was humiliated on national TV the next day when the band announced it would never perform again unless Tony rejoins — effectively sacking their young singer live on air.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Ross says: “I told Spandau I wanted to leave and they wished me luck. I couldn’t afford to be left on a shelf, not knowing where my next meal was coming from.
“Then the next day they forced Martin Kemp on This Morning and made him act like I was just being brushed aside. I never even got to say that I quit, to own any part of my story. I was so humiliated as they had treated me so badly for so long. That’s when I tried to kill myself and I wound up in hospital in Cannes.”
Ross, 31, was in the South of France attending the city’s illustrious film festival in May last year when he was told about bass guitarist Martin’s interview. It confirmed his worst fears about the group, that they were more of a “brand than a band” and thought of him as nothing but an “entity” with zero regard for his mental health.
He recalls: “I’d just been made to look like I wasn’t worth s**t but it was me that quit Spandau. They humiliated me. It hit me like a tonne of bricks.” Having made sure his friend was out of the house for the day, Ross took some pills and “crashed out”. But thankfully his friend raised the alarm. Ross says: “I wrote something cryptic on Facebook like ‘Better to burn out than to fade away’ and he saw right through it.”
Ross adds: “Spandau didn’t realise that they were dealing with a person. I’m not a titan of the music industry like these guys. They gave me a chance, little old Ross, and then they just brushed me aside.”
The Aberdeen-born singer took over from Tony in June 2018 after the band auditioned hundreds of hopefuls, and was unveiled to the world’s media in a big promo push. He was recommended by Martin, who starred alongside him when Ross played Elvis Presley in West End musical Million Dollar Quartet.
Ross remains close to the former EastEnders actor, and saxophonist Steve Norman, describing both as his “friends for life”. But the same cannot be said of Gary, Spandau’s main songwriter, and the band’s management.
Ross explains: “There were some really bad decisions made about how they went about it and I just don’t understand why they couldn’t have just talked to me like a normal person instead of treating me like an object. When I told them I quit, they just said, ‘Don’t tell anyone’.”
On Gary, he adds: “He’s ruthless, that’s how he was with me. The last message I got from him was ‘we need to talk’ and I said ‘great I’m all ears, give me a call’ and that was a year ago. I’ve heard nothing since.”
Ross, who is opening a massage therapy clinic in Knightsbridge, West London, this month at HB Health while gigs are on hold, credits his new band Mercutio for turning his life around.
He started playing with the rockers, whose new single is called Where The Pain Lives, around the time he joined Spandau.
He is now delighted he can concentrate full-time on the London-based four-piece, who are signed to independent label Diverge Records.
Ross adds: “If I did not have this band I would not be here now — they got me out of this dark place. These guys are my heroes.
“They gave me the support network I badly needed and showed me why I was alive.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
“With Spandau, I was pushed into being something I wasn’t and as much as I enjoyed the performing side, when the s**t hit the fan, I was so lost.
“But these guys made me want to battle my demons and take on my depression, which I was diagnosed with.
“Collaboration is what got me over that hurdle. That made me realise that Mercutio is what I want to do.”
- If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 16123.
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