Belfast Telegraph

Eighties pop star 'killed himself after a lifetime of mental health problems'

Rowland Charles Gould
Rowland Charles Gould

By Claire Hayhurst

One of the founding members of 1980s pop group Level 42 took his own life after a history of mental health problems, an inquest heard.

Rowland Charles Gould, known as Boon, was found dead at a friend's home in Uffculme, Devon on April 30 this year. He had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and told doctors he had suffered from depression all his life.

An inquest in Exeter yesterday heard Mr Gould was a talented musician and had been the guitarist for Level 42.

Deborah Archer, assistant coroner, concluded that Mr Gould had died from suicide. "Boon was a 64-year-old man at the time of his death, who was a talented and much-loved musician," she said.

"He had been a member of the 1980s pop group Level 42. To quote his wife Moira: 'He was an incredibly intelligent man who was musically very gifted.'

"Boon had a difficult and complex history which I find adversely affected his mental health.

"He had coped with these issues sometimes without being completely open and honest with family and friends about the degree of suffering that he was going through."

The coroner said Mr Gould tried different types of therapy but did not find anything that consistently worked for him. She said this was likely due to his "wish not to trouble others and the deep-seated nature of his problems, coupled with a tendency to self-medicate".

Detective Sergeant Lucy Skinner, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said Mr Gould was last seen alive on April 27.

His body was discovered by friends on the morning of April 30 and he was pronounced dead at 11.05am by a paramedic.

Letters to his estranged wife Moira Gould, his son and friends were discovered in his car after his death. Mrs Gould said her husband had been "open" about his mental health problems during their 17-year marriage.

"He talked about how exhausting it was to be him," she told the inquest.

"He had constant voices in his head. He had a constant internal battle."

A post-mortem examination found Mr Gould died from hanging.

Dr Clare Matthews, his family doctor, said he had a long history of mental health problems and alcoholism.

The inquest heard Mr Gould told doctors he consumed a bottle or half a bottle of whisky per day. "He became a successful rock guitarist and led a lifestyle characterised as heavy drinking, cocaine drug abuse and mental health problems which ultimately led to him retiring from the music business in the 1990s," Dr Matthews said.

"He retired to move to Devon for a quieter life."

Mr Gould's brother said he had not had an issue with cocaine during his time in Level 42.

The band had a number of hits including Lessons In Love and Running In The Family.

After his death, Mr Gould's brother and band member Phil Gould said his heart was "beyond broken", while Level 42 vocalist Mark King described Mr Gould as a "dear friend and brother".

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