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Suggs says music saved him and his bandmates from a life of crime.
The Madness frontman was arrested for affray as a teen growing up in Camden, north London, and in the band's upcoming three-part docuseries, 'Before We Was We: Madness by Madness', the 60-year-old musician recalls how joining the group in 1977 was a "crossroads" in his life.
He shared: "Being in the band was like an extension of being in a gang — apart from the fact it wasn’t just us smashing up phone boxes and kicking traffic cones down the road together.
“It was at a crossroads. A lot of those people we knew at that time did get into serious crime.
"We were all a little bit involved in that sort of thing and graffiti was the first thing. Music was a huge step in the right direction."
Things got so bad, that the 'Our House' singer used to pinch clothes from charity shops.
He previously recalled: "You'd go in the cubicle, take the clothes, put them on under what you were wearing and walk out."
Madness have been performing for more than four decades and, Suggs – whose real name is Graham McPherson – previously admitted he can hardly believe the band has lasted this long.He said: "It is amazing that we've been able to do this for so long. It constantly surprises me – for me, I'm one of those people that the 80s only feel like ten years ago to me.
"It's a privilege to still be doing this, we've done festivals all over Britain and still enjoying it, which is great.
"We spend more time arguing than anything else, but it's healthy and we all still get on great and that's the major important point about it.
"I'm name-dropping terribly here but Paul Weller was standing in my kitchen chatting about this very thing the other day, and of course, he famously dropped his band [The Jam].
"He was saying how do we do it, how is it we're all still together and still close?
"I said that democracy is a very difficult thing, and it's hard but the fact is that for important decisions we all have to agree.
"Everything you see us do, we're all on board with. If there's something that we could do, if one person in the band doesn't want to, the chances are we won't do it."
'Before We Was We: Madness by Madness' is available on AMC and on-demand on BT TV from May 1.