THE stunning career turnaround of JAMES ARTHUR was one of the most enduring music stories of 2016.
But an unprovoked attack in his native North East just weeks before dropping his No1 comeback single nearly stopped the fairytale in its tracks.
Earlier this month Chris Revell was jailed for five-and-a-half years for glassing James in the back of the head in a jealous rage over the singer’s one-night-stand with the thug’s ex-girlfriend Gemma Iveson.
The 2012 X Factor winner was enjoying a night out at Plimsoll Line pub in Redcar, North Yorks, last August when Revell attacked him with a pint glass and punched him with such force he was sent flying across the floor.
Yesterday James, who said “justice is done” with the verdit, guest-edited Bizarre and agreed to speak for the first and only time about what happened.
And he revealed the huge mental and physical repercussions of the shocking assault.
He said: “It was an ordeal. It was tough to see footage of it.
“It was quite disturbing to see it. I’m glad it’s behind me.
“I will feel nervous about going home and seeing friends and family. I don’t know what kind of damage it’s done.
“It was an ordeal I’m going to have to carry with me for the rest of my life.”
James has no grievances with Iveson but admitted they were “no longer in touch”.
He said: “I think she’s been very kind in the media.#
“She’s expressed concern and she seems sorry.
“She doesn’t have to be sorry — it is what it is.”
The singer spoke for the first time about the scar on the back of his head which is “five, six inches long” and how his injuries have intensified his anxiety, particularly towards head trauma.
He said: “The worst thing about the physical damage is that I worry about head trauma — even when I’m playing football, something like heading the ball. I worry about it. Even moshing on stage.
“Nowadays you see all these things about concussion.
“That kind of thing freaks me out, so if I think about it too much it is a bit bad.”
Having admitted concerns about heading back to his hometown of Middlesbrough since the attack, he admits residing in London, where he has settled in recent years, is likely to be extended when he’s back from his tour.
James said: “I come from a rough place, I’ve been in a few scraps in my life, I spent time in foster care, I’ve always looked over my shoulder, especially in my home town.
“But I think more so now in public I’m scanning around.”
The attack happened at the worst possible time for the singer, who was about to launch the second stage of his career following a personal meltdown which saw him being dropped by SIMON COWELL’s record label, Syco.
At the time he thought the timing of the attack may have been a sign he was set to continue his bad fortune.
James said: “The most f***** up thing was it took me a couple of years to get to a place mentally where I was ready to release music again.
“It was maybe a month before I was going to drop my new single when it happened and I was out at the pub and feeling good, I looked good, I was in good shape and I was ready to come out – and it happened.
“I was like, ‘f*** something just doesn’t want me to succeed’.
“But it makes all the fruits of everything so much better.”
POOR James has been a bit of a feud magnet since he shot to fame on The X Factor.
And he has made it quite clear he has no intention of settling his row with PROFESSOR GREEN after the rapper said last year that he wanted to make up.
James found his vocals cut from Pro’s 2014 single Little Secrets.
He was replaced by MR PROBZ, who James claimed copied all of the ad libs he had originally laid down in the studio.
Declining Pro’s offer of reconciliation, he said: “When are me and him ever going to hang out?
“I have no desire to work with him again.
“I don’t need to be mates with him. That obviously spoils the working relationship, and there was nothing said to me.
“There was no, ‘Hey James, we’re not going to use you on the song because of this’. That’s not real to me.
“I’m just about realness and honesty.”
— JAMES, hard at work in my seat, right, had precious few celebs stick by him in his dark days.
He said: “People like ED SHEERAN are so refreshing. Even when I was down and out, he maintained support. He still messaged me.
“Same as Nicole and LABRINTH. I didn’t have a lot of showbiz friends.”
— JAMES nose he’s made the right choice to get his hooter fixed.
He posted this shot after surgery this month and said: “I’ve always had problems breathing with my nose.
“But I can definitely feel the difference in my singing already.”
He shared the news that his nose had to be broken again to be put into its new place.
Hope it was worth all that pain.
— HE’S certainly not shy but even James was too scared to chat to NOEL GALLAGHER at a Brits after-party. He said: “I was going to go over and say hello because he was one of my idols but I didn’t want him to say, ‘F*** off, mate’.”
LAST September I told you James had got back with his girlfriend, dancer Jessica Grist, two years after they split up.
And it sounds like their relationship is now stronger than ever.
James said: “I’m still seeing Jess. I don’t like to talk about it too much just because we’ve been through so much.
“I do worry I’m not there enough and at the moment it’s kind of like that. We’re going through a period where she’s on tour, I’m on tour.
“Jess is really special. She looked after me when I was at my very lowest.
“She’s been the most important person throughout this.”
— EXPECT a new sound from James, inspired by USHER and MIGUEL. James said: “I want my next album to be a mixture of confessions and a hip-hop vibe. I’ll definitely go more R&B – I haven’t shown off my chops in that sense.”
FOR many years James has suffered panic attacks.
But following an op this month to straighten out his nose (after “too many scuffles as a teen”), he was given strong antibiotics which sparked one of his worst-ever anxiety attacks.
He said: “It was horrible. I didn’t feel any pain but they just knocked me out, they played with my mind.
“I felt like I was slipping in and out of consciousness a lot.
“I did the stupid thing of reading stuff on Google about allergic reactions to antibiotics.
“I started freaking myself out because I thought I was going into anaphylactic shock so I rang an ambulance.
“I was like, ‘I’m dying, I’m f***ing dying now. That’s what’s happening’.
“I didn’t need to go to hospital in the end. I was fine.
“The attacks have never really stopped. I still have them. I had one last night.
“They’ve just become part of my life, I’ve just had to accept that. It’s something that I have.”
His honesty will help lots of others feel more comfortable talking about what is now sadly a very common issue.
— I’M impressed James and NICOLE SCHERZINGER are even standing in this picture.
He broke his post-nose-op booze ban in style at Universal’s Brits after-party as he caught up with his X Factor mentor.
He said: “I didn’t expect to be hanging out with Nicole at 2am drinking tequila.
“I haven’t seen her since I was on the X Factor.
“I was supposed to see her last night, but she was like, ‘Babe, I’m running late, I can’t meet up because I’ve got to sing on a flight.’
“When we catch up we have a couple of glasses of whisky and chill, listen to music and just talk. We talk on Whatsapp quite often.”
Hope Nic has in-flight wi-fi.