How Blue overcame turbulent 20 years filled with booze-fuelled sex scandals, sofa-surfing, bankruptcy & rehab
THEY stormed the charts in the early 2000s, but their sudden rise to fame led to a VERY turbulent few years for Blue.
From bankruptcy and health scares to wild partying and sex scandals, Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Simon Webbe and Antony Costa have each battled their own troubles in the years since.
But having overcome the difficult times and finally found happiness, the singers are now hoping to make a comeback to mark their 20th anniversary, once Covid restrictions ease.
In an exclusive chat, Duncan, 42, told us: “I’d like to think we’ll reform again.
“We were wanting to do something for our 20th anniversary but at the moment lockdown has meant it’s been difficult to get together. It’s not been easy."
The potential comeback will delight fans, who have watched each of the musicians overcome their own battles over the past two decades.
Here we look at how they've put the darker times behind them…
Wild partying and battle with drink & drugs
After shooting to fame in 2001 with All Rise, Blue went on to enjoy four years of sell-out shows, lengthy tours and a whole lot of wild parties.
But for Lee, 37, it led to years battling alcoholism and he recently admitted on Loose Women that he saw his role as "the young crazy one" at the time.
He said: "I was definitely having fun, I think the problems came later, I didn’t realise I had a drink problem until later."
Lee has previously admitted he'd drink a bottle of whisky a night at one point, but said he finally realised how bad it had got when Duncan pushed him to have a stint in rehab.
"Duncan found me going through his cupboards looking for booze and chucked me into rehab," he said.
And speaking exclusively to The Sun last year, he said he still struggles now but added: "I struggle in my own way that I don’t use drink to forget and that was the point.
"Those days are completely behind me now, where I’d use anything to forget. If anything, now I have a couple of beers to relax and be social but there was points where I wouldn’t drink socially, I would drink inwardly and the bottle was my friend."
Lee has also been caught up in a drugs scandal after being arrested in 2014 for alleged drink-driving and suspected possession of cocaine. It led to him acknowledging he needed help and checking into rehab.
Meanwhile, Duncan has also admitted he dabbled in drugs and told Now! magazine: "I have a really bad memory from smoking too much weed in my younger days. I was surprised we never got caught."
The band also admitted to taking magic mushrooms in their tell-all book Blue: All Rise, Our Story.
'I couldn't afford to get home so I stayed with my mate on his sofa'
Following their split, the band went on to face bankruptcy in the years that followed – and Antony Costa, 39, was hit particularly hard.
While he'd once earned £250,000 a month on tour, he was left living on £45 a week at one point.
"I wasn't saving any of my money along the way and I had champagne taste with lemonade money in the end. I thought Blue was going to last forever and any money I did have left at the end of Blue I wasn't advised on how to save it but I don't blame anyone for that," he said.
He was reportedly left with no option but to move back in with his parents and he added: "Then when I worked at Blood Brothers I couldn't afford to get home so I stayed with my mate on his sofa."
He said he's since received more support and advice on managing his finances which has helped him build savings back up with reunions and gigs since.
Sex scandals and cheating claims
Fame also gave the band access to a world of private jets, serious amounts of parties and sex on tap.
Lee, who was named The Sun’s Bizarre column Shagger of the Year, said of his past in the band's book: “I dived in that pot, swam around in it and took a big, happy bite.”
And Duncan, who later came out as gay, admitted: “I had more than my share of beautiful women on my arm back in those days.”
Lee sparked shock in 2014 when he appeared to claim he'd had sex with Duncan. He was also quoted saying: “We did some crazy s*** with each other. It’s not weird…you just high-five each other.”
Adding fuel to the fire, he then said during his stint on Celebrity Big Brother: "Yeah I’ve been with a man. Everyone’s done experimental s***. I’m a well-travelled person.”
However, the pair cleared up the rumours on a later appearance on This Morning, with Duncan insisting it "absolutely never" happened.
Duncan claimed he “got a bit of brunt from it for the whole story about him and me sleeping together", and Lee insisted: "I wasn't talking about that. It was about me coming out to say that I had done stuff.”
Lee's many relationships over the years have earned him a reputation, made worse when he was caught in a very public love triangle with Jasmine Waltz and Casey Batchelor in CBB.
But when his bandmates joked about it on the show – claiming he's "been engaged more times than a switchboard" – Lee hit back saying: "I don't fall in and out of love. I was in love for six years. Just remember that."
Elsewhere, Simon, 41, has also built up quite the poor reputation in his past love life.
Last year he was hit by shock claims he'd been cheating on his wife Ayshen on a cruise ship dubbed “Benidorm on Sea". And it followed years of scandals.
In 2004 he split with his live-in girlfriend Natalie Denning after allegedly falling for TV presenter Stacey McIntosh.
Two years later, in 2016, he split with girlfriend Maria Kouka when she accused him of messaging two girls about secret hotel trysts.
And in 2011, he was dumped by then girlfriend Layla Manoochenri after she said she found him in bed with Towie star Chloe Sims.
Lee's health scare forces break from performing
Lee was forced to take a break from performing in 2015 when he had a terrifying throat cancer scare.
He revealed in the band's book how he was warned he could lose his voice if he didn't get surgery to "remove an aggressive cyst".
While the cyst was not cancerous, the star's vocals had been at risk due to the lump and the operation meant he had to pull out of the band's planned tour that year.
Then two years later, the star was hospitalised with quinsy, a complication of tonsillitis.
A source told The Sun: "He has been unable to talk, swallow or eat so doctors decided to drain his throat to try and alleviate the pain.
"It is extremely scary for Lee as his throat is a very sensitive place after his recent cancer scare."
Simon's battle with depression and family heartbreak
Simon has also overcome his own personal battles over the years and admitted he was battling severe depression before his stint on Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.
He got to the point he was drinking a bottle of brandy a day after facing bankruptcy due to property losses and coming to the end of busy a reunion tour.
“I was sitting at home, curtains closed, drinking a bottle of brandy a day. I didn’t leave the house for weeks on end except to buy bread or milk," he told the Daily Mirror.
“I hated who I was and started questioning my whole life. I was really depressed. I never attempted suicide but I thought about it. I turned mirrors round so I didn’t have to look at myself. I didn’t want to be here, didn’t want to be a part of anything. I wanted to black out."
Strictly proved the new challenge he needed, but the singer then faced horrendous heartbreak at the end of 2018 when his brother died by suicide.
It pushed the boyband star to speak out about mental health and encourage people to talk about any troubles they might have.
Speaking to OK! magazine, he said: "I’ve actually been off social media until recently because I sadly lost my brother to suicide almost two months ago. It is something that is taboo.
"It’s taught me that people just need to be honest about what they need personally. We need to stop being afraid and stop looking for validation.
"We need to ask people if they are actually okay, start healing and accept who we are, the troubles that we have and talk about it."
He later praised his wife Ayshen with helping him cope with depression afterwards.
'The most embarrassing incident of my life'
Simon wasn't the only singer in the group to battle depression, and Duncan says he was prescribed anti-depressants after the split as he struggled to come to terms with a series of things – including his sexuality and a former girlfriend becoming pregnant with his baby.
"I would go to see my psychiatrist and I would be in there crying and shaking," he told the Daily Mail.
I’m having a panic attack, secretly gay, taking anti-depressants to cope with stress and I have just soiled my underpants, live on air
However, coming off the anti-depressants came with its own problems – including suffering panic attacks while presenting the National Lottery show.
And it also led to one moment he'll never forget.
“What follows is arguably the most embarrassing incident of my life. I farted and, somehow, was unable to stop following through," he recalled in the band's book.
“So I stood there, a boyband star turned prime-time TV entertainer gazing out at the country’s biggest audience, eating their dinners, and I’m having a panic attack, secretly gay, taking anti-depressants to cope with stress and I have just soiled my underpants, live on air.”
The group have all fought to move on from the difficult times, however, and have each found happiness since.
Despite going their separate ways and enjoying stints in soaps like EastEnders and Hollyoaks, as well as reality shows like I'm A Celebrity and CBB – they've remained close throughout with the odd reunion and their stint on Eurovision.
Simon remains happily married to Ayshen – with the star sharing a tribute to her on Instagram recently for her birthday, calling her "beautiful" – and has a daughter, Alanah, with his ex Nicola Jones.
Duncan is dating Rodrigo Reis, who he's spent lockdown with, and has a close bond with his daughter Tianie-Finn, who he shares with ex Claire Grainger.
A post shared by Simon Webbe (@simonwebbe1)
A post shared by Duncan James (@mrduncanjames)
He's also enjoying a series of work projects including a stint on Celebs on The Farm and Proud Cabaret.
Antony has also landed a stream of roles in recent years, including one in touring stage production, A Judgement In Stone, in 2017.
And in June 2018 he featured in a Channel 5 weight loss show in which he managed to lose a stone in four weeks and six inches from his waistline.
In September this year he revealed he'd once again lost a stone after piling on weight in lockdown.
He has been with long-term partner Rosanna Jasmin since 2012 and they have two daughter together, Savannah Rosa, six, and Paloma Valentina, three.
And while Lee, who has daughter Bluebell and son Rayn from previous relationships, has had a string of high profile relationships, including an engagement to to Atomic Kitten's Liz McClarnon, he's since been dating Verity Paris.
It seems they all still share that One Love of music as much as ever.
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