I Quit the Prodigy and Life Fell Apart; Leeroy Thornhill Tells How His Split with DJ Sara Cox Edged Him Close to a Nervous Breakdown

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), March 2, 2001 | Go to article overview

I Quit the Prodigy and Life Fell Apart; Leeroy Thornhill Tells How His Split with DJ Sara Cox Edged Him Close to a Nervous Breakdown


Byline: JOHN DINGWALL EXCLUSIVE

FORMER Prodigy star Leeroy Thornhill has revealed how splitting from the million-selling dance group, ditching his girlfriend - Radio 1's Breakfast Show presenter Sara Cox - and building the perfect home put him on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Leeroy is now happier than ever and promoting the first album of his own material, but it was not so long ago that he was in the depths of despair.

He shocked fans last February by walking out on the band that made him a millionaire in return for "making scary faces and jumping around on stage".

It was around the same time that he split up with Sara and, within a few months, he had sunk all his money into restoring his dream home, an Essex windmill, and had plunged into financial trouble.

All the upheaval and worry soon took its toll on the star.

He reveals: "My hair fell out around the time that Sara and I split up. I was leaving the band as well, so it was full on.

"I realised I had to sort my life out. The house, the relationship split and leaving the band were three of the most stressful things that could have happened to me.

"I had to split up with the band and split up with Sara for me to be happy again and now I am."

"I also built my dream house, but I got a lot of stress along with it. I spent every penny I had, borrowed money and then ended up taking two years off. It's not complete, it's a long-term project - I can live there, but there's a lot of stuff to do."

Leeroy and Sara - who has gone on to date Leeroy's pal, DJ Jon Carter - were expected to follow showbiz chums Zoe Ball and Norman Cook's path to marriage, but even though they were engaged, Leeroy says that was never part of their plan.

He reveals: "Sara and I got engaged, but in reality we didn't plan to get married. It was more for our protection. I was protecting Sara from others and vice versa. There was none of this 'let's get married thing'.

"The house was never going to be the marital home. She had her own place and we always had our own lives when we were together."

He adds: "We're back to being friends and get on with our own business, but splitting with Sara and splitting from the band both happened at the right time. I'm happier now than I've been for years."

The strain of their body clocks not being in sync could have made the relationship even more difficult. Leeroy was performing concerts at night while Sara was sleeping and she was rising at 3am to travel to Radio 1's Egton House.

He recalls: "I'd wake up and she'd get up when I was asleep, but that wasn't the problem. We'd gone back to being friends rather than loving each other. We never argued. We didn't have problems.

"It was just time to move on. I simply didn't want to be in the relationship any more and neither did she."

The break-up with Sara topped a difficult time for Leeroy who had enjoyed chart-topping fame alongside his fellow Prodigy stars, Keith Flint, Liam Howlett and Maxim.

His decision to leave them stunned fans and he can see why some could not understand why he did it.

He admits: "I had an everyday life that I couldn't dream of having. Everybody just thought of me as the dancer with the Prodigy, which was totally cool by me.

"And it's wicked because it hasn't put any pressure on me now that I'm making my own music."

He adds: "I didn't leave the band the way Robbie Williams did with Take That. I'm not even worried about being seen as the Howard Donald or Gary Barlow figure in the Prodigy."

After leaving the band, Leeroy did some DJing around London and remixes for artists such as Moby, David Gray and Dr Doom (aka Kool Keith).

He then became Flightcrank and decided to concentrate on a solo career. He released an EP called Twisted featuring Lee Scratch Perry and recorded his debut album at his own home studio. …

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