'I was toxic and depressed' Cait O'Riordan Bassist, the Pogues, 1982-1986
In the 1980s, the Pogues had it all: critical acclaim and commercial success. By walking out when she did, O'Riordan missed singing on their biggest hit - 1987's Christmas No 2, Fairytale of New York, sung instead by Kirsty MacColl.
I was a very angry, dysfunctional teenager from a dysfunctional family, who was living in hostels. Music was a classic gloomy teenager's outlet and after school I'd go to Camden in search of vinyl. Shane [MacGowan] was working in a record shop. We went for a drink and he said, "You can be the bass player." I had a bass but couldn't play it; the band took the time to say, "Put this finger there." I had no talent except for causing trouble, and I joined the coolest band in London.
The band were always having to get me out of scraps. I'd start fights I couldn't possibly finish. They tolerated me, because most of the people in the band were the same, and - this was soon after punk rock - an obnoxious teenager who liked to get drunk and fight probably looked like a cool character. I can remember fragments, like being on stage at Glasgow Barrowlands and feeling like it was the best thing in the world. But I never realised how lucky I was. [After beginning a relationship with Pogues producer Elvis Costello] I felt I'd outstayed my welcome. I didn't regret leaving: I was always absolutely certain I was right.
I was financially secure, which enabled me to get deeper into alcohol. I rejoined the Pogues in 2002 for a two-week tour, but they didn't ask me back and I don't blame them. They're older guys; most of them don't drink now. I was toxic and dysfunctional. I told a doctor that I was either developing schizophrenia or possessed. [In 2003] I had a breakdown, aged 38. The doctor put me in a psychiatric hospital and they diagnosed me as having depression; I had probably had it for a very long time. The psychiatrist said, "You've built a crust around you." It was revelatory.
I'm a completely different person now. I go to the gym. I'm studying to become a psychologist. Money and success just brought unhappiness, but I desperately miss playing. If anyone needs a bass player, call me. When I was doing my exams, there was a poster up for the Pogues, who were playing in the same building. I thought, "I wish there was someone I could talk to about how weird this feels".