McFly star Danny Jones on turning childhood love of music into a chart-topping career
McFly star Danny Jones turned his childhood love of music into a chart-topping career. But the new judge of The Voice Kids tells Jeananne Craig how school bullies almost made him give up his passion
Danny Jones has topped the charts and performed to sold-out arenas as one quarter of pop-rock band McFly, but things could have been very different if he'd listened to the bullies who targeted him at school.
They took exception to the then 13-year-old learning to play the guitar, and their taunts almost led him to give up on his passion.
"I got spat on. I hated walking down the corridor with my guitar, people saying, 'Oh what's that, are you going to play us a tune?' Stupid stuff," the Bolton singer, now 31, reveals.
"I actually gave up playing in school.
"If I didn't have the private lessons going on in the background, I probably would have given it up completely, if it wasn't for my mum and my family believing in me."
With his Instagram account depicting exotic travels, recording studio japes and Jones on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans, the upbeat star clearly had the last laugh.
"I knew what I wanted to be, and the kid that was bullying me is still probably hanging out in the street outside the same sweet shop," he adds.
Jones is hoping to share his tips for success with the young contestants on his new TV project, The Voice Kids (a spin-off from the hit talent show The Voice).
He'll join the coaching panel alongside Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am and singer Pixie Lott for the show, which aims to find some of Britain's best young vocal talents and will follow a similar format to the grown-up version, with blind auditions and spinning chairs.
Given that the competition is open to children as young as seven, striking the right balance between encouragement and critique is a challenge. But Jones insists he was pleasantly surprised by how well the contestants coped with rejection.
"We try and give them the most positive feedback we can, while trying to be as honest as we can.
"But you kind of vibe off how vulnerable the kid is feeling at the time.
"If they're gonna break down, if they're really upset, I always say: 'Look what you've just achieved, look at the advice you're getting at such a young age'."
As we've seen on The Voice and similar shows such as The X Factor, being crowned winner doesn' t always lead to long-term success.
So, how will these young singers cope if their careers fail to take off afterwards?
"There's less desperation with these kids. They're not like: 'This is my last chance to make it'," says Jones.
"They want to come on and share their talent. I don't know if many of them really know what they want to do yet; that's what's amazing, we can get on to that and help them become that."
The somewhat eccentric will.i.am is particularly good at talking to the kids on their level, Jones says with a laugh.
"He's like: 'Imagine you're in a rocket ship and you're going to Mars, that's all that's happening here, we just ran out of petrol' ... Me, Will and Pixie have good banter between us.
"I understand him, which a lot of people don't. And for Pixie, we're like the two annoying brothers."
Formed in 2004, McFly - Jones, Harry Judd, Dougie Poynter and Tom Fletcher - reached number one with their debut single, 5 Colours In Her Hair, and went on to sell more than 10 million albums.
But despite enjoying fame and fortune with the band, Jones's late teens were also marked by his parents' divorce.
"The whole magic of family just got broken. To break something that was so magical and was a structure and a base for you, and just to see your mum so upset, is a hard thing," he reveals.
In the trailer for The Voice Kids, we see Jones reduced to tears by one contestant whose story had personal resonances for him.
"It was the singing, the fact that I didn't turn, and the story that came afterwards. He was kind of talking about his dad leaving him. I was like, 'Mate, my dad did the same'."
Jones married model Georgia Horsley in 2014, with his McFly friends among the best men ("We're like brothers," he says of his bandmates).
"I didn't actually want to get married because my mum and dad had a divorce," he admits. "But Georgia's taught me to love (marriage) again, and be OK with it.
"It's a powerful thing; to have something solidified in your life is kind of cool."
He might be happily married and in his early thirties now, but Jones still enjoys the occasional bit of rock star behaviour.
"We still have it in us; I have rock and roll moments with my friends to this day," he says.
"I still like to have a good time and enjoy it ... But we do drink green tea in the morning."
- The Voice Kids begins on ITV on Saturday at 7.45pm