Ex-drug addict and Britpop stars’ dealer from Stoke Newington tells all in memoir
- Credit: Archant
It was August 1996 and Simon Mason had blagged his way into one of Oasis’s two iconic Knebworth gigs – among the biggest in music history.
Only he left before the band took to the stage after smoking the last of his crack cocaine in a portable toilet and realising in a blind panic the heroin he needed to counteract it was at home.
Simon, now 45, had once been part of Oasis’s entourage and the main drug dealer to the stars of the 1990s Britpop era – but he watched that era-defining gig on TV with a needle in his arm.
“My crack and heroin addiction had escalated to the extreme. I was back at my dealer’s house watching it on the news, slumped in a chair with a syringe hanging out of my arm – it was one of the biggest gigs in history and I had left it,” said Simon, who first moved to Stoke Newington in 1999.
It was one of many lows in a battle with drug addiction spanning 20 years documented in his biography, Too High, Too Far, Too Soon. The book also details his path to recovery – helped in part by street artist Banksy.
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Simon grew up in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, in Somerset, and enjoyed a relatively normal childhood until the deaths of his aunt and father.
Shortly afterwards, aged 11, he was sent to boarding school where he was sexually abused by his headmaster, a predatory paedophile. Music became his sanctuary.
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Simon says: “A pivotal moment in my life was when my mate’s very cool parents got us tickets to see the Jam – it was my first gig, aged 12. At that point music had become my escape route. I developed an absolute obsession with the Jam, the Clash, the Who and the Sex Pistols – they said what I couldn’t say myself.
“I had a complete and utter devotion to music – it helped me through boarding school, and brought me to London.”
Simon first experimented with drugs at the age of 14, but it became a way of life four years later after Glastonbury in 1986.
He dreamt of stardom and at another Glastonbury a few years later, in the company of the Happy Mondays, he concluded that dealing drugs was the best way of making it happen.
“Let’s just say, they needed something and I knew someone. I thought, this is the way forward. I got to hang out with the people I admired.”
He became the main drug supplier on the 1990s music scene and was a close acquaintance of Oasis. “I was at the epicentre of Britpop. I introduced Oasis on stage in 1994, so that’s how close I was with them.
“But when people realise you’re a junkie, they change. You’re just some two-bit, low-level drug dealer with a crack addiction – you’re a liability.”
Dealing drugs only funded his habit and he got hooked on crack cocaine chasing acting dreams in LA. Heroin addiction followed and dependency lasted 10 years.
He got married and continued to pursue his musical dreams, but drugs always got in the way.
He became homeless and by 2006 he had hit rock bottom.
“I was living in a caravan in Spain at the side of a motorway and weighed seven to eight stone. I had abscesses all over me and I hadn’t had a bath for three months. I was dying, and I was dying slowly,” he admits.
He called his sister and friendBanksy, who once asked him to be his manager, and they paid for him to fly home.
Back in Stoke Newington, he tried to take his own life with an overdose in a stairwell of a council block off Nevill Road. He survived and, after successfully completing rehab, he has been clean for seven years.
Although an attempt at rekindling his marriage didn’t work out, Simon now has a daughter, Tabitha, aged five, who is the “centre of his universe”.
Writing the memoir has also helped. “In some respects it has been closure. But it has also brought to the surface a lot of feelings, particularly about the impact my addiction had on my family,” he said.
“Overall, I think it has been a positive experience. For the first time – and I’m not blowing my own trumpet here – I’ve had people tell me they’ve found it inspiring, how I can be so messed up and come back from that.”
He hopes to make writing a full-time career, along side playing in his band made up of recovering addicts The Should Be Deads, but is sadly facing homelessness again after losing his job in drug rehabilitation.
He said: “I have no money, even though I’ve worked for the past seven years of recovery – and that’s a direct consequence of my addiction. Just because you’ve sorted yourself out, it doesn’t mean life isn’t difficult anymore.”
n Simon, with author Jessica Jones, will be signing books on September 18 at Stoke Newington Book Shop, 159 Stoke Newington High Street from 8pm-9.30pm.