The Big Reunion is back on our screens tonight – a feast of nineties nostalgia re-introducing us to our childhood fan favourites as they dust off the cobwebs and powder over the wrinkles for another bid at pop stardom.
Chief amongst this year’s participants are boy band-turned-man band A1, comprised of Ben Adams, Mark Read and Christian Ingebrigtsen. If you know your nineties, you’re probably asking yourself what happened to the fourth fresh-faced lad who once adorned your bedroom wall. His name is Paul Marazzi and no, he’s not taking part…
“In a nutshell, he didn’t show up for work one day and I haven’t spoken to him since,” recalls Norwegian-born Christian. “And that was ten years ago,” adds Ben Adams, his curtains hairstlye (sadly) a distant memory. “We did invite him to take part in the show but, again, he didn’t turn up for work,” quips Christian. “We had a lot of fun with him and he was a very talented guy, but the way he left the band made it not very natural for him to be involved this time, even though we would have liked to.”
But Marazzi’s abrupt departure wasn’t the only reason the band went their separate ways at the end of 2002. During the height of their fame, a tour of Asia ended in tragedy when four young fans were crushed during a stampede to see the foursome at a record store in Jakarta, Indonesia. Cancelling their remaining concerts, the band immediately returned to the UK, issuing a statement saying they were “devastated”.
Adams claims the disaster was “one of the main reasons we split up in the first place.”
Recalling the aftermath back in the UK, he tells RadioTimes.com, “that was horrible for us but at the time we came back and our family and friends didn’t really talk about it because there were pictures of the girls in the morgue all over online and the papers so they were trying to shield us from all of it.
“We all went to various councillors the record company offered us and spoke through it with them but we’d never actually spoken about it to anyone else. We weren’t allowed to at the time because there was a big court case going on between Sony and the families in Indonesia so we weren’t allowed to speak about it.”
In fact, the blanket silence was so absolute, Adams claims this is “the first time I’ve actually looked into it – I’ve gone online and Googled it and actually seen exactly what happened and heard stories of how it affected the families afterwards. No one was allowed to speak about it [at the time]. We obviously didn’t continue doing anything with the band when that happened so we didn’t even speak to each other about it. It was just one of those things – it was a big elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about.”
So, to what extent was the tragedy behind A1’s split eighteen months later? “I don’t think it was the direct reason,” says Adams. “I think it was the catalyst that began things – us reassessing what it was we were doing and why we were doing it. I still can’t get my head around it – it’s too bizarre to think that can happen when we set out just to do music.”