Boyband stars who went off the rails

BEING in a boy band comes with many perks – including girls throwing themselves at you, lots of travelling, lavish parties and luxury hotels.

But when all that fizzles out, and the guys all go their separate ways, it can be very common for them to go off the rails – often turning to drink and drugs.


Liam Payne was just 16 years old when he got put into One DirectionCredit: Getty


He’s been dropped from his management as his partying has got “out of control”Credit: Getty

Liam Payne, 28, is the most recent one to have suffered the boyband curse, as he’s been dropped by his management KIN over fears his partying has got “out of control”.

A source told The Sun: “There are concerns right now for Liam because he isn’t committed to anything and is spiralling a bit.

“His management were at the end of their tether and said enough is enough.

“They didn’t know what else they could do to help him. It is hard for him seeing his bandmate Harry Styles having acclaim across the globe but the truth is that Liam has let himself go and is feeling lost.

“Everyone wants to see him succeed but he’s not in a good place right now.”

And Liam’s former One Direction bandmate Zayn Malik has also recently been charged with harrassing his partner Gigi Hadid’s mum Yolanda Hadid.

But there have been many other boy band stars who have turned to drink, drugs and even attempted murder once they’ve lost the support of their bandmates and record label.

We take a closer look at the dark paths some of our favourite pin-ups have taken once the music stopped…

Dougie Poynter: ‘Lost two years’ to Valium addiction


Dougie Poynter was just 16 years old when he shot to fame with McFlyCredit: Getty – Contributor


He became addicted to Valium in 2016, when McFly took an indefinite hiatusCredit: Jayne Russell – The Sun

Dougie Poynter shot to fame as one quarter of McFly in 2003, aged just 16.

But when the group – made up of him, Tom Fletcher, Harry Judd and Danny Jones – decided to take an indefinite hiatus in 2016, Dougie, now 33, turned to Valium, “blaming himself” for the split.

He then eventually became addicted to the drug, and said he felt like he’d “lost two years of his life”.

When asked if he struggles to remember the periods in which he was using the drug, he told The Sun: “Honestly, yeah. I mean, you get flashbacks, but it’s a huge blur. It’s strange.

“That’s something which is really hard to come to terms with, literally losing two years. Two years just went as like a weird dream. Coming out the other end was like, ‘What? Where’s my band?’”

It was his bandmate Harry who encouraged him to go to rehab after learning that the chilling drug could cause him to die.

Dougie added of Harry stepping in: “It was certainly an intervention. I don’t remember kicking up a fuss but . . . I don’t remember much really.”

Former I’m A Celebrity winner Dougie is now in a better place and is dating model Maddy Elmer.

Zayn Malik: ‘Harassed & pushed girlfriend’s mum’


Zayn has been charged with harassing Gigi Hadid’s mum YolandaCredit: Getty – Contributor

Zayn Malik quit One Direction back in 2015, five years after he’d been put together with Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Niall Horan by Simon Cowell on X Factor.

For a while, his career was on the up after he left, with his debut solo album Mind Of Mine debuting at number one in the UK Albums Chart.

But recently he’s been charged with harassing the mother of his partner Gigi Hadid – and was sentenced to probation and anger management classes.

Court papers claim Zayn told Yolanda, “Stay away from my f***ing daughter,” and pushed her into a dresser, causing “mental anguish and physical pain”.

He pleaded no contest to the charges but strongly denies striking her.

On top of that, he was dropped by his record label RCA and the Hadids want Zayn to seek therapy in rehab for his alleged heavy cannabis use.

AJ Mclean: Confronted cocaine addiction at Shania Twain gig


Backstreet Boys were one of the biggest boybands in the world at one pointCredit: AP


But AJ Mclean was suffering with a cocaine addictionCredit: Getty

Last year, Backstreet Boys singer AJ Mclean, 43, admitted he’d been using drugs as a “big Band Aid” to numb his pain for 20 years – after trying cocaine for the first time while filming the music video for The Call.

“I thought drugs and alcohol would make those feelings of insecurity go away,” he told People. “But it doesn’t work that way.” 

The boy band singer revealed that in 2001, his fellow Backstreet Boys band members confronted him about seeking help.

During the intervention, bandmate Kevin Richardson said if he continued using: “I will never trust you again. You’re dead to me.” 

However, AJ’s sobriety teetered for the next 20 years until he had a “moment of surrender,” in December 2019 at a Shania Twain concert in Las Vegas.

“I knew where I was going to go get my drugs. I knew where I was going to go get drunk. I knew all of it and I figured, ‘Okay, it’s one night. As long as I don’t go past a certain time and I don’t smell like it … then come back home,” he said.

But, his plans did not go accordingly. 

“I never slept. I missed my first two flights back home and reeked of alcohol when I got home. My wife and I had always had this agreement, which was, if I smelled like alcohol, I wasn’t allowed to play with my kids — I couldn’t be around my kids,” the singer said.

“That was it for me,” he adds. “As we say in the sober world, that was my moment of surrender. That was the moment I dropped to my knees and I said, ‘God, I cannot do this on my own. I can’t. I have tried and I have failed miserably. So help a brother out.'”

AJ immediately signed up for 12-step meetings online, which he has attended since, and even competed in the US version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars last year.

Richie Rock: £200 a day on heroin after Boyzone sacking


Richie Rock (second from the left) in the original Boyzone lineup

Richie Rock was just 18 when he beat 300 others to land a place in Boyzone, and he quit school to spend 10 months rehearsing and mastering the routines.

He claims he was the boyband’s original frontman before Ronan Keating, but it all fell apart when their manager Louis Walsh sacked him for being late and “unprofessional”.

He was promptly replaced by Mikey Graham, and three weeks later, the band signed with Polydor and got their big break.

While the boys went on to make millions, Richie struggled to make ends meet as a DJ and began abusing drugs to cope with his bitterness.

Richard told the Mirror: “[Their success] drove me insane. I started taking drugs to block out the pain. At first it was ecstasy and loads of alcohol. Then I got into heroin and I was doing up to £200 worth in a day. If I was desperate I would go to my doctor for methadone.”

After several rehab attempts he got clean in 2006 and works as a videographer and photographer in Goa, India, where he lives with wife Sadaf Javan.

Mark Wahlberg: Charged with attempted murder


Mark Wahlberg , pictured left with brother Donnie, was briefly in New Kids on the Block when he was 13 years oldCredit: Getty


He was jailed for attempted murder as a teen and involved in racial attacksCredit: Getty

Mark Wahlberg was only 13 years old when he joined New Kids on the Block with his brother, Donnie.

He left soon after, but before he went on to become an A-list Hollywood actor, he had a very controversial past.

At the same time as being in NKOTB, he started using cocaine, as well as stealing cars and mugging rich people.

“We wanted what we didn’t have, so we went out and hustled,” he told Forbes.

During his turbulent teenage years, he also allegedly committed more than one racially motivated crime. 

On June 15, 1986, the then 15-year-old and three of his friends followed a black 12-year-old boy Jesse Colman and his siblings, yelling: “We don’t like black n****** in the area, so get the f**k away from the area.” 

A chase then ensued, with the all-white group pursuing the Colemans on their mopeds, throwing rocks at them, chanting: “Kill the n*****, kill the n*****.”

Two years later, Mark – allegedly high on PCP – brutally attacked a Vietnamese stranger, Thanh Lam, with “a large wooden stick, approximately five feet long and two to three inches in diameter”, leaving him unconscious. 

He was was initially charged with attempted murder, but the charge was reduced to criminal contempt. He was jailed for 45 days.

Robbie Williams: So high he ‘clucked like a chicken’


Robbie Williams quit Take That in 1995Credit: Getty – Contributor


He went on to become the most successful from the group – but was addicted to drugs and alcoholCredit: Redferns

When Robbie Williams left Take That in July 1995, fans were left absolutely heartbroken.

However, while he arguably became the most successful from the group, getting solo hit after hit, Robbie was actually drinking and taking drugs very regularly.

In 2006, he quit music after his Close Encounters World Tour.

And he turned to drugs, “sat on a sofa, ate potato chips and chocolate, got fat and grew a beard”.

In his book, Reveal, Robbie details how, at different times, he was taking morphine, Adderall (used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD), Vicodin (pain killer) speed, Seroquel (used for treating schizophrenia) and cocaine combined, magic mushrooms and “a few more things”.

In fact, he was so high on drugs the first evening he spent with future wife Ayda Field at a party he was in a Jacuzzi “clucking like a chicken”.

But instead of heading for the hills, she moved in with him for three weeks to nurse him.

Robbie is now sober – and recently hit out at the UK’s dangerous relationship with alcohol in lockdown.

Gary Barlow: Bingeing and bulimia battles


Gary Barlow put on a lot of weight after Take That split through bingeingCredit: Getty – Contributor

Robbie’s Take That bandmate Gary Barlow also had an addiction – but to food.

After Take That disbanded in 1996, the former X Factor judge has said he lost his purpose.

He turned to food, became a recluse, and eventually hit 18 stone after bingeing on Chinese takeaways, crisps and chips.

Speaking to James Corden, he said: “I had a rough period with food that I’m not proud of, where I really lost control of myself.

“I remember one particular day just thinking: ‘How have I got here?’ I was just so disappointed with myself.”

In 2003, he saw a doctor about his obesity and became bulimic.

He told The Sun: “I thought I know what I can do, I can eat with everybody, I can sling the food down, have a great time, drink as much as I want.

“As soon as I get home, I’ll find the furthest place away from my wife’s bedroom and I can go in there and I can get rid of everything.

“And I thought it’s really clever this is. And then of course, the one time becomes five times, and then you realise this has no future.”

These days, after losing weight healthily, Gary shouts about exercise, fitness and healthy eating.

Lee Ryan: Two rehab stints for booze


Lee Ryan was just 16 when he started out in BlueCredit: Getty – Contributor


He went to rehab twice for alcohol and now drinks “sensibly”Credit: Rex

It was Lee Ryan’s Blue bandmate Duncan James who first put him in rehab for a drink problem, in 2013.

The 38-year-old singer, who joined Blue at the age of 16, said he realised it was an issue when Duncan “found me going through his cupboards looking for booze”.

Lee had just been declared bankrupt and he turned to the bottle, “drinking a bottle of whiskey a night”.

He continued: “Even so, the only time I thought I might have a problem with the stuff was when I walked to the shops one day for a pint of milk.

“I was about to open the fridge when I felt my eyes wander from the milk to the whisky on another shelf and five minutes later I walked home without the milk, and lost another evening with the hard stuff.”

But Lee’s first stint in rehab didn’t work, and he was back in the following year.

The second stint was a testing time and although he did relapse, due to living above an off-licence and opposite a pub, he joined a gym and started “healing himself” simply by being alone.

Now, Lee allows himself to have one glass but “has to be sensible” with alcohol, and doesn’t touch whiskey.

Nick Carter: Arrested for drunken brawl


Nick Carter was arrested for a drunken brawl with a bouncerCredit: Getty – Contributor

Nick Carter was just 16 years old when Backstreet Boys shot to fame.

He has spoken of his ongoing battle with drugs and alcohol abuse on a number of occasions.

Nick said he began a serious drinking habit in his teenage years before he picked up a habit for other drugs like marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs. 

In his memoir, he wrote: “During the height of my problems, I did ecstasy, cocaine and drank a large bottle of vodka a night. I regret taking ecstasy. 

“The amount I did caused changes to my brain that are responsible for my bouts of depression now.”

Although Nick has said he’s trying to be sober these days, in 2020 he was arrested for a drunken brawl in Florida, in which he allegedly grabbed a bouncer’s throat.

Nick was cleared in exchange for 25 hours of community service and the payment of $298 (£222.60) in court-related fees as part of a pretrial intervention programme for people with minimal criminal history.

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