According to Robbie Williams, the very act of participating in a girl or boy band for any length of time will cause its members mental health problems.
The former member of UK hit-makers Take That turned solo superstar will release his four-part documentary series on Netflix in a fortnight, examining his rollercoaster ride of fame and outstanding commercial success, punctuated by bouts of depression and other illnesses.
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He told The Times newspaper that he believes Take That, the UK’s biggest band which Williams dramatically quit in 1995 and now performs as a trio with three of the original members, serves as a case study for what happens when people join a band at a young age and are more successful than they could possibly have anticipated.
He said: “If you just take Take That as a case study — and all the boys have mentioned this publicly, so I’m not busting anyone’s privacy — you’ve got Gaz [Gary Barlow] who became bulimic and agoraphobic and didn’t leave his house, who forgot how to write songs and slept under his piano. You’ve got Howard [Donald], who contemplated suicide. You’ve got Mark [Owen], who ended up in rehab. You’ve got Jason [Orange], who can’t hack it and has just, like, disappeared. And then you’ve got me. So that’s your case study: there’s something that solidifies and calcifies in those five years — which is the traditional lifespan of a boy band — that causes mental illness. It’s five out of five.”
Williams has been open about his mental health struggles for years, and says now he has been diagnosed fully:
“Dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, neurodiversity, body dysmorphia, hypervigilance… There’s a new one that I acquired recently: HSP. Highly sensitive person. Post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. And, obviously I have an addictive personality… I am collecting them all, like Scout badges.”
The documentary series will show footage from the 1990s when Williams first found fame with Take That, and continue into his solo career, when he enjoyed success across the world, but also experienced panic attacks, including one caught on camera on stage. He told The Times he thought mental health problems were a pre-requisite for being creative, saying:
“And if they don’t have them at the beginning, they do by the end. No one gets a free pass in the extreme fame game. No one comes out the other side well adjusted and happy and mentally well. Name me one.”
Robbie Williams streams on Netflix from November 8.
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