Will Mellor says that his grounded upbringing helped him escape the superficial excesses of TV and pop music stardom.
With a single in the Top Ten and a primetime spot in Channel 4 hit Hollyoaks during the 1990s, Mellor became engulfed in the spoiled life he’d once dreamed of – but was shocked to discover how much it changed him.
“There was a time, when I was being a pop star, when I didn't like who I was becoming,” says Mellor in this week's Big Issue.
“I started to expect things. I had a driver outside my house; I had hotel staff at my beck and call. Everyone around me was telling me how great I was. But they were being paid to do it. It was a false world and it started to change me.
“Then someone said to me, 'You aren't the person I knew.' And that killed me. I thought, if that’s true, I've gone against everything I believe in. I've turned into a knobhead.
“So I phoned my mum and said: ‘I think I need to come home."
Penning his Letter To My Younger Self in "The Big Issue", Mellor speaks of his regret at being manipulated as a “pawn on a big corporate chess board” during his brief foray into pop-music, something that he believes tarnished his reputation as a musician.
Despite how good it feels, some kinds of success are brief. And can saddle you “With hindsight, I'd advise the younger me that, despite how good it feels, some kinds of success are brief. And can saddle you,” he says.
“I was 21 when I released that cover of Leo Sayer’s When I Need You. I didn't have any creative freedom. I sang the song on Hollyoaks and they wanted to release it. I went along with it because I thought it might be a way into becoming a recording artist, writing my own songs.
“But it didn’t work like that. I was just a pawn on a big corporate chess board. It was an era of people off the telly bringing out songs and I was a part of it.
“They ruined my chances of doing anything serious. No one would take me seriously now, as a singer.”
Now a father himself, Mellor adds: “Having children opened a whole new emotion for me. I always knew I'd be like that, though. I'm a family man. My parents gave me a solid background.
“Now I'm trying to give my kids the same. I'm nothing without my family, they made me. I wouldn't take a job if it meant being away from them for a long time.”