Oasis: They Claimed To Be The Best Band In The World, But In The End, They Got Buried By Their Own Egos
They were called the successors of The Beatles, as well as their embarrassing imitation. Cocky, sharp-tongued Brits who loved rock and roll, but eventually had to split up.
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Ear-pleasing melodies, dynamic rock and roll rhythms and infectious pop vocals with confident expression. There was a time when a five-piece group from Manchester called Oasis had almost the whole world at their feet. The band enjoyed it to the fullest. Its main engines have been two brothers - Noel and Liam Gallagher. They complemented each other perfectly. One had an exceptional talent for writing great lyrics and composing music, the other had a strong voice that immediately caught the attention of everyone around.
However, something went wrong. There are bands in which two brothers play and you can feel that the energy on stage is more intense, you can feel the mutual connection and the joy of playing (for example, Biffy Clyro, Kings Of Leon, Radiohead or Gojira). In the case of Oasis, on the contrary, it was mainly a rivalry of egos, a kind of strange struggle for power. And when both egos are the same size, it's hard for anyone to back down. When no one backs down, it is impossible to continue.
The greatest strength, but also the Achilles' heel
"Over time, being in a band with your brother becomes your Achilles' heel because you know exactly how to strike the right chord with one another," said in 2015, long after the band broke up, according to the Guardian Noel Gallagher. “Oasis' greatest strength was our relationship with Liam, but it was also what tore the band apart. We were both insane," Noel also revealed in Mat Whitecross's documentary Oasis: Supersonic (2016).
Guitarist Paul Arthurs, bassist Paul McGuigan and drummer Tony McCarroll formed the band Rain in the early 1990s, originally featuring Chris Hutton on vocals. However, Arthurs, also nicknamed Bonehead, eventually wanted Liam for his post, as they knew each other and his style appealed to him. When asked if he wanted to join the band, he answered briefly: "Sure, but we have to change the name, because it sounds horrible."
The band subsequently renamed itself Oasis, and so in 1991 it began to write its own, successful story in the already rich history of British music (the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath were already globally successful at that time). Although many music critics still refer to the band as Brit-pop, the members of Oasis themselves hated this label.
A bit of a hooligan, a bit of a loner
The turning point was the arrival of the fifth member, Liam's brother Noel, five years older. He hid song lyrics in a drawer at home, and the guitar was his best friend. Although he was first offered the position of manager in the band, it didn't take long before he became the main composer. "A bit of a hooligan, a bit of a loner," is exactly how Liam described his brother, with whom he had always shared a room, in Whitecross's documentary. "Noel was always quiet. He was always sitting in the room with a piece of paper and a pen in his hand, always writing something. Sometimes his guitar playing got on my nerves so much that I scolded him," Peggy Gallagher, the mother of both musicians, also admitted in the documentary.
After a 1993 demo called Live Demonstration, Oasis signed a record deal with Alan McGee of Creation Records and released one of their strongest UK debuts, Definitely Maybe. It saw the light of day on August 30, 1994 and contained fundamental compositions with juicy solos such as Cigarettes & Alcohol and Rock 'N' Roll Star or the beautiful, soulful ballad Live Forever. But even before that, the band wowed with the stylish and striking single Supersonic with its exciting intro and catchy guitar riff.
Not to mention the impressively abstract, even surreal clip. It was a pumped-up rock and roll charge that the generation at that time wanted to hit again and again like some kind of drug. Noel said in a 2016 documentary, "I wrote that song right in the studio while everyone else was eating some Chinese food in the next room." The band recorded and mixed the song that evening. However, with quick success came typical star mannerisms.
Methamphetamine and a note with an unexpected reference
Everywhere the band went, there was some trouble. According to Paul Arthurs, they were banned from entering some places or hotels. In one, the members threw the entire room out the window. Noel only added sarcastically to this incident in Mat Whitecross's documentary: “It was hard work. We sweated it out.” After more such incidents and fights, the Manchester youths quickly developed a reputation as bad boys in the press.
However, the tumultuous period and enjoyment of rock star status got a little out of control in 1994. The band almost broke up and lost the most essential creative component - Noel. The tour in America didn't get off to the best start. Before a concert at the Whiskey a Go Go nightclub in Los Angeles, the members tried methamphetamine for the first time, mistaking it for cocaine and snorting it. The subsequent concert was an absolute disaster, as each of the musicians played something different during the first song, which the audience clearly noticed.
Gradually the pressure grew, as did the frustration of the failed start, until an angry Liam, drugged up, threw a tambourine directly at Noel on stage. However, this seemingly inconspicuous moment upset the elder Gallagher so much that he packed up after the concert and left a note under the door of the band's manager, which simply said "I'm leaving". He meant it, he suddenly disappeared and no one could find him. "From that moment on, it was more them and me than us," Noel described his feelings in a 2016 documentary. "I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe it really is the end," he added.
Beauty in simplicity
It turns out that he went to San Francisco to see a girl he once met at an Oasis concert. When he was hanging out in her apartment, drinking and doing drugs, he finally realized that leaving the band would not be the best solution, and after a few days he returned to a hotel in Los Angeles to rejoin the other members. Moreover, for Noel's artistic soul, the whole tangle of events eventually acted as inspiration for a new composition. This is how the gloomy ballad Talk Tonight was born.
The second studio recording called (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was released on October 2, 1995 and contained immortal hits such as Don't Look Back in Anger, Morning Glory or Champagne Supernova. Today, it can be clearly said that it also included the band's biggest hit ever - Wonderwall. You will probably recognise it after two or three seconds. And there are only two options. Either you love it and it's like a chicken noodle soup for your soul, or it seems to you that it's already so played out that as soon as the first notes are played, you can't stand it and you immediately change the station or leave the room.
Oasis really created a megahit and a perfect single that, even decades after its release, is playing almost daily on radio stations all over the world. And yet so little was enough. Four magical chords sounding catchy around on an acoustic guitar, a sincere confession in the text and a crystal clear voice to go with it. Noel Gallagher revealed to the British weekly NME in 1996 that Wonderwall was about his girlfriend Meg Matthews. Success was achieved not only by the song itself, but also by the music video for it - it got an award at the Brit Awards and the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? became one of the best sellers in the UK.
However, recording of this hit was not a piece of cake. From the musical side, everything went smoothly. The tension between the brothers began to rise after the incident in the studio, when a drunken Liam dragged strangers from the bar, with whom he sprayed out the entire fire extinguisher. In the process, one of Noel's guitars was damaged, which enraged him. "We fought like never before. It was our roughest battle. I hit Liam in the head with a cricket bat," the elder Gallagher recounted in Mat Whitecross's documentary. It turned out that the whole studio was upside down, and when the hot heads cooled down, they met and acted as if nothing had happened.
I hope they catch AIDS and die
Oasis also had strong competition at the time. They competed for the post of the most popular and most listened to British band with a four-member band from London. Blur debuted at the same time as Oasis, but they were a bit more active in music production. In 1995, they had already released four albums. The rivalry went to extremes, which is also documented by Noel Gallagher's statement to the Observer about bassist Alex James along with the group's singer Damon Albarn: "I hate Alex and Damon. I hope they get AIDS and die."
Shocking and harsh words, which will freeze many, the main composer of Oasis later regretted and apologized for his statement years later. "As soon as I said it, I realized it was insensitive to say something like that, because AIDS is no joke. Even though I'm not a fan of their music, I wish Damon and Alex a long and healthy life," Noel later corrected. The rivalry between the bands was also present in the following years.
Today, both sides remember the trench warfare with a smile, and there were even mutual words of appreciation. The fact remains that Oasis were still nearing their peak at the time of their greatest struggles with Blur, and although they could not yet know that they would rewrite the historical statistics of the British music scene, Liam was already proclaiming: “We are the best band in the world. That's a fact!"
Two concerts and a quarter of a million fans
The huge success of the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was responsible for incredible 250,000 fans gathering at Knebworth Park in the summer of 1996 to witness the stardom of Oasis live. Both concerts (August 10 and 11) were sold out in one day. More than two and a half million people were interested in the ticket. From this point of view, it was the most requested performance in British history. Oasis would easily sell out another 18 nights.
The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Manic Street Preachers came to play as guest bands at the concert. Residents of the Knebworth area could tune in to the sound directly from the performances on a specially broadcast radio within a radius of approximately 32 kilometers.
“It was biblical. It was a miracle that we even got there. It was everything I ever wanted. We were untouchable," Liam recalled about the double concert. On the contrary, his brother Noel is said to be still unable to remember even the trip to the stage, even due to considerable intoxication. "There were enough people there, so it probably happened," he recalled in one of his many interviews. He was probably reminded about a lot of it, in the film Oasis Knebworth 1996, which was released only recently.
There was no turning back. Oasis, the rock giant, was known all over the world, always rolling forward and determined to eat or demolish everything in its path. "Oasis is like a Ferrari that looks good, drives good, but always goes crazy out of control if you drive it too fast," Liam said of the band. "I think it's the case with every big band that it's not just about the music," the singer shared his opinion. "If you have good tunes but can't perform, you're boring," he added.
According to the younger of the Gallagher brothers, Oasis were not the best musicians, but they had guts and that was needed. The band was often compared to the legendary Beatles in the British press, and the Gallaghers themselves did not hide that the Liverpoolers had a huge influence on them. Noel told Q magazine in 1996: “It's beyond obsession. I don't even know how to justify it to myself. With every song I write, I compare it to The Beatles." One could also talk about being intoxicated by the legendary band The Beatles in the case of Liam. He gave his first son, who was born in 1999, the name Lennon.
Drunk with glory
The massive popularity of Oasis after the second album strengthened the Gallaghers' manners more and more. The departure of drummer Tony McCarroll and Paul McGuigan (mainly due to increasing tensions and conflicts) definitely did not take them by surprise. You could hear them everywhere, they didn't regret anything and the words respect or rules were totally stolen from them. Paradoxically, their more arrogant and brash behavior gave them more and more popularity. "I've got £87 million in the bank, I've got a Rolls Royce, but I want more," Noel shouted into the camera a year after the release of the band's second and arguably best album.
At the Brit Awards, he declared with a devilish smile that those who once meant something should not present awards to those who mean something. He also managed to declare that the only awards that mean anything to him are those decided by the fans. He is not interested in those awarded by corporations and idiots. Interviews with Noel were extremely fruitful for journalists, because they always knew how to extract something "sexy" from his controversial statements.
Head-on collision in a taxi and hospital stay
Despite the common interests and excesses, the relationship between the brothers continued to be strained, quarrels were the order of the day, and the competition for the leader continued. The turning point and the end of the joint journey came only in 2009 after Liam broke Noel's guitar backstage during preparations for a concert. Today, the elder Gallagher laughs in interviews that he plans to sell it one day to retire.
It's incredible that they managed to record five more albums together before they finally broke up the band - Be Here Now (1997), Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000), Heathen Chemistry (2002), Don't Believe the Truth ( 2005) and Dig Out Your Soul (2008). However, none of the recordings on them achieved the success of the previous ones, and legendary hits such as Wonderwall or Champagne Supernova were absent.
Only songs like Stand by Me, Little by Little, Go Let It Out or Stop Crying Your Heart Out were more prominent. After all the complications and incidents that the band went through during ten years of activity, in 2002 something unexpectedly happened during the tour in America, which could have meant a really definitive end. As the Guardian reported, Noel Gallagher and then-bassist Andy Bell found themselves on the edge of life and death when the taxi they were traveling in collided head-on with another vehicle in Indianapolis.
According to the spokeswoman of the band, it was a strong collision, but, fortunately, the taxi had airbags and cushioned the impact. The emergency service had to take both of them to the hospital anyway. Gallagher, who was traveling in the passenger seat, was badly bruised on the face and cut by the seat belt. The musicians finally recovered successfully. In any case, both Gallaghers have been hiding other wounds for many years, but on the soul. And at least one of them was not completely healed.
In a documentary about the British band, director Mat Whitecross outlined what could have been the cause of the turbulent relationship between two different brothers, whose disputes and rivalry drove them to the point of mutual hatred and enmity. They carried both anger and remorse. "Father didn't treat his mother too well. But he never touched me, I don't know why," admitted Liam in the documentary Oasis: Supersonic.
According to Peggy Gallagher, her husband Thommy often beat Noel. "Once (Noel) told me: If you don't leave him and leave the house, I will kill him," she recalled. "It's true that my father almost beat the soul out of me many times. However, I never had the need to tell anyone about it or write about it. You can't let something like that affect you because it's going to stick with you for the rest of your life," Noel himself said about the matter.
According to him, Liam was jealous of how good a songwriter he was in the band, and when he began to sing more and more at concerts, he felt useless, as if he was pushed to the back burner. “I hate to call it sibling rivalry, but that's exactly what it was. I know my brother better than anyone. Liam is like a dog and I'm like a cat. Cats are very independent creatures. They don't care, they are real pigs. Dogs want to play all the time, they beg for it. They need company,” Noel explained to director Mat Whitecross.
Each followed their own path
Today, the older of the brothers performs with Noel Gallagher's band High Flying Birds, and Liam founded the band Beady Eye with former members. However, they broke up in 2014 and today the singer performs only under the name Liam Gallagher. Although there have been many speculations about a big comeback, the relationship between the two is still at freezing point, they are not having fun.
In 2017, Liam admitted on Howard Stern's show that he would love to see Oasis get back together, but then proceeded to insult his brother again in classic fashion, once again burying any hopes fans had that the two brothers could ever appear on stage together again . Liam said that whenever he sees Noel's face, it reminds him of a potato. After listening for a while, Howard Stern quipped, "Oh, my God, I'm glad I don't have a brother."
Two years later, however, an attempt at reconciliation came from Liam, when he released the song One of Us. Both the text and the clip were clearly addressed to the older brother and called on him to bury the hatchet. However, Noel hasn't responded yet, so he was probably dead serious when he said, that they are done.
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