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Family man driven to edge of despair by music debts

ONE OF the few constants in Michael Menson's turbulent life was the love and support of his family.

Born in Moscow in July 1966, the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, he was the seventh of 11 children, with six sisters and four brothers. He lived in several countries before moving to Britain in the Sixties. The Menson household was strong on religion with the children all going to Methodist church and singing in the choir.

His sister Essie, a paediatrician, recalled: "Mike was a very family-centred person. He was somebody who found the greatest pleasure ... with his family."

Mr Menson started work in the music industry as a disc jockey and was a founding member of the successful dance group Rebel MC and Double Trouble, which had two top 20 singles.

Money from his band enabled him to set up a recording studio, called Noise Gate, in central London. But with the spilt up of the band the money ran out, the studio closed and Mr Menson was declared bankrupt. The failure of his musical career appeared to be a turning point in his life.

Essie Menson said: "He was under a lot of stress with the business. He suffered from anxiety and depression and at times of great stress he would have a relapse."

His condition deteriorated and he suffered a nervous breakdown. He was hospitalised at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, and was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and depression. He relapsed several times and spent a total of about a year in hospital between June 1993 and March 1996. When he was stressed Mr Menson could fall into a catatonic state.

At the time of his death he appeared to be restarting his musical career and had bought new recording equipment with the intention of doing some mixing work.