“I think that is the start of where some of my problems came,” says Mel C, who details some of her other issues with her bandmates.
The Spice Girls are one of the most successful groups of all time — but a fight between Melanie “Mel C” Chisholm and Victoria Beckham apparently nearly cost Mel her role in the band.
Appearing on BBC’s Desert Island Discs program, Sporty Spice revisited those early days of the girl group. While she has spoken briefly about her Posh face-off in the past, this time she also revealed how nearly being booted from the band because of the fight left a long-lasting impression on her.
“This is a funny story,” she said about her and Victoria’s early beef at the Brit Awards in 1996. “I was so hurt and embarrassed about the situation, I only started talking about it recently, but it’s actually really funny … we were at the Brits and we all had a few [drinks] and on the way out there was a little scuffle between me and Victoria.”
“We can’t say this on air but I asked her to go away and I was told if that behavior ever happened again I’d be out,” she said. In 2019, Chisholm told The Guardian she actually “told Victoria to f–k off.”
“What made it so devastating is how important it was for me to be part of the band and to achieve things we wanted to achieve … to think that I could have messed it up and lost it all, I begun to be really really hard on myself,” she continued. “I’m literally all putting this all together in my head now, my therapist would be very proud of me. I think that was the start of where some of my problems came, because I had to be very strict with myself, I couldn’t allow myself to relax, because if I did I might mess it all up.”
That feeling continued as the group found fame, as Mel C revealed why she wouldn’t speak out when she felt “bullied” by at least one of her bandmates for fear of rocking the boat. While she didn’t name names here, she insinuated Melanie “Mel B” Brown “shit on” her back in the day in that interview with The Guardian.
“When you’re absolute ultimate fairy tale actually happens to you, you feel guilty complaining about anything,” she explained, “We were on top of the world, we were the biggest band in the world and I felt guilt about complaining.” She also said she considered herself the “diplomat” of the group, keeping a low profile and her mouth shut to “stay out of the firing line.”
Chisholm also expressed her ambivalence toward the Sporty Spice label, as she was still figuring out who she was at the time she got pigeonholed as the “boyish” one of the group. “I am sporty and athletic, but I am quite soft and gentle really,” she said, calling it a “confusing” time for her.
“I was described as the plain one at the back that doesn’t really do much, doesn’t really say much,” she added of media coverage back in the day. “And that’s really hurtful when you’re a young, aspiring pop star. That really hurts. I tried to make myself perfect. I ended up making myself really ill. I was anorexic for a few years. I was exercising obsessively and I ended up being incredibly depressed.”
Once she was diagnosed as having depression, she said it “was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.” Choking up as she spoke, she said it “was such a relief” because knowing what was affecting her meant she was now able to figure out how she could be helped. “That was the beginning of my road to recovery,” she added, “which took a really long time.”
In 1998, Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell left the group, a move which Melanie says she respects now but left her “devastated” at the time. She said, looking back, it was “the beginning of the end” for the group. Following the release of “Forever” in 2000, they went on an extended hiatus.
“We never really officially split up,” recalled Melanie. “A decision was made, I stayed a bit longer than I wanted to and a lot of that was because I was so unwell. I was struggling being in the company of the girls, we were doing recording sessions separately. We had really gotten into that old rock and roll vibes. I knew I had to go, I had to sort myself out and I couldn’t do it in that environment. That’s no detriment to the other girls at all, this is my own personal stuff.”
The women would eventually go on a reunion tour from 2007-2008, before a 2012 performance at the Summer Olympic Games in London. They also toured again — without Victoria — in 2019.
“When we’re together on that stage, we are formidable,” said Chisholm, “and we would kill for each other.”