“Depression for me has been a 33 year prison sentence for something I never did"
The Hobo Journal went to meet hairstylist to the stars Adee Phelan. Adee shot to prominence in the 90’s winning British Man’s hair dresser of the year award by 2000. His life took another huge turn when he took the clippers to David Beckham’s head and created the famous mo hawk cut before the 2002 World Cup but life hasn't been all rosey.
How did you get to do the iconic mohawk cut on David Beckham and all the other celebrities?
I remember winning Men’s hairdresser of the year award and still not having a pot to piss in and being introduced to Victoria Beckham through a mutual friend and over night charging £20 per cut to £200 and subsequently meeting Mr Beckham. It just snowballed from there along with many endorsements and tv work.
You now have your own product line SKNHEAD LDN which you have created from scratch tell us about that.
SKNHEAD LDN is a idea I had over 21 years ago which everybody laughed at and said don’t be ridiculous. It was at my first awards ceremony which I was up for Hairdresser of the year. I had hair then but forgot my regular product so I put Coco Butter through it. The next day everybody was asking what I had in my hair! That’s when the idea came to me about having a product for your Skin and your Hair, my old boss Lee Stafford just looked at me and said “Whatever” 16 years later I started the process, 5 years of samples travelling up and down the country and people telling me it can’t be done and it’s ridiculous I cracked it! It’s just another one of those examples of me refusing to give-up. Theres a difference between winners and losers! There are people that put 30% in and expect to win and there are people that put 100% in and think they could’ve done better and I’m the latter. SKNHEAD LDN has been a completely different process for me where as before I would put my name to a product and collect the endorsement fee this was the first time it was my product and had to learn business, manufacturing, production, distribution, social media, It’s been bloody tough but the satisfaction and rewards are fantastic.
How did you find the “celebrity” limelight in the early 2000’s?
Simple I didn’t I’ve suffered with Depression for over 30 years I just had it hidden away I hid3 away, People always look back on the Tv shows and the personal appearances and say look at Adee he’s such a happy, cool guy. I used to come home and cry my eyes out I done a show called the secret millionaire 10 years ago, The biggest mistake of my life. I did that show thinking I was doing something for the good it destroyed me! Family, Friends, work colleagues “ I didn’t know you were a millionaire?” My servers would go down on my emails everyday with a constant barrage of people asking for hand outs. One minute you’re just a hairdresser and the next minute peoples handshakes are a lot firmer.
What are your thoughts on the social media and effects of vulnerable people?
It definitely has many good points but unfortunately like most things it has two sides. I think people with mental illness that suffer with mental illness and are subject to a lot of abuse on social media, I have to think to myself why are you on there? I know you shouldn’t have to come off but why are you on the platforms if looking at negativity makes you suicidal, upset and frustrated just cut it the f*ck off. But on the plus side because of these platforms I managed to raise 2.5 million for the NHS during Covid and I haven’t even got a huge following. That’s when these things really do make a difference. The response I had from everybody was completely mind blowing.
Tell us about that and how it came about?
It’s a long story but in short I had a accident 6 months before Covid and suffered a very serious head injury and St Thomas hospital saved my life. The first day of Covid I bumped into a Nurse who recognised me while queuing for a Taxi, I asked her if Covid was as bad as people were saying? To which she replied yep, it’s gonna be hell on earth. When I arrived home I thought with my recent situation and what was soon to be a worldwide pandemic it was my time to give something back. Over the next 16 months, 7 days a week, 16 hours a day I was dedicated to packing care products and despatching them to NHS staff all across the country raising £2.5 million in the process.
You said you suffer from depression do you think depression is something creatives suffer from more?
No what a load of old tosh! Nobody has the answer, Is it because of drink and drugs? NO they suddenly don’t help but is it the cause? No! you have somebody that has sold over 100 million albums everything going for him like my dear friend over there (points to a picture of Keith Flint from Prodigy) Why did he do what he did? I don’t know and I never will. Then you have people living on there own in a little studio flat in the back end of nowhere that are the happiest people in the world full of life and vigor. We are all wired differently.
What is Depression?
Depression is your body and your mind sating to you f*ck you ! Depression takes everything away from you, It strips you of positivity, confidence, happiness, love, friendships. Depression makes cancer look like a blister, Depression is the darkest cloud suffocating you 24 hours a day. Depression is the most debilitating, narcissistic, aggressive, soul destroying disease, Depression is just everything that’s bad which just isn’t curable. At least with Cancer you have a fighting chance, with depression your mind defines every fibre of your body and if that is constantly fighting you for me that’s the most relentless disease that one could bestow on anybody. I wake up every morning with fearful is it here is it back? I go to sleep at night thinking is this my last night of happiness? I’ve turned down so many interviews on my views on my mental health and depression in the fear that it will trigger something. I’m filming a documentary at the moment titled "living with a killer"and once that’s wrapped I’d love to put the whole thing to bed. If it comes back at least I’ve had a break and I thank my lucky stars for that. I feel people that haven’t got it shouldn’t talk about it, people that haven’t got it shouldn’t be ambassadors for it, people that haven’t got it shouldn’t preach about it. It’s a dark world that you don’t want to get involved with. Depression for me has been a 33 year prison sentence for something I never did, I feel like the last 18 months I’ve been on parole and I think if I behave myself and do the right things maybe one day the judge might say you’re free to go. I’ll always respect this illness I acknowledge it and talk to it I’ve learned to cope with it with the few little weapons I have and hopefully with time the mind will get used to this lovely tempo I currently find myself within. Depression is my greatest fear.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer