Oasis are a Rock and Roll band from Manchester, England. The group shot to stardom in the early 1990s with a brand of traditional British rock and roll that had, for a number of years, been replaced with hazy Shoegaze and American Grunge. Oasis established themselves as one of the most successful and critically acclaimed bands of the 1990's, not only with their music, but also by the band's infamous behavior on and off the stage including heavy drinking, drug abuse, confrontations with the media and fighting, particularly brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher.
Originally named The Rain, the group was formed by school friends Chris Hutton (vocals), Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs (guitar), Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan (bass), and Tony McCaroll (drums). When Hutton left the band, he was replaced by Guigsy's friend Liam Gallagher, who changed the band's name to Oasis, having seen the word on an Inspiral Carpets poster. The band played their first gig on Saturday 18 August, 1991, at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Liam's older brother Noel Gallagher, who had recently returned from touring America as a guitar technician for the Inspiral Carpets, came to watch his younger brother play. Soon after witnessing the gig, Noel was invited to join the band, agreeing under the condition that he would be the band's sole songwriter and leader.
After gaining a loyal following in the local Manchester gig circuit, Oasis were signed to Creation Records by label owner Alan McGee in 1993. Following a limited white label release of the song 'Columbia', the band released its first commercial singles, 'Supersonic' and 'Shakermaker,' in the spring of 1994. Both were Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom and attracted much attention. Later that year their breakthrough came with the single 'Live Forever,' which was a major hit in Britain. It reached the Top 10 and spent a year on the charts. This was followed by 'Cigarettes & Alcohol', which reached an even higher position in the UK chart than 'Live Forever'.. Soon after, Oasis released their highly-acclaimed debut album, Definitely Maybe, which entered the charts at number one and became the fastest selling debut album in UK history.
Britpop and the height of fame (1995-1997)
1995 saw another change to the bands lineup, as at the begining of the recording sessions for their second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, drummer Tony McCaroll was kicked out of the band, following a punch-up with Liam and a row with Noel in a bar. He was replaced with Alan White. They continued successfully recording and in 1995 released their second album,to vast commercial success. While its predecssor was hailed by many as having ressurected guitar pop, Morning Glory served as the breakthrough album that made Oasis international superstars, despite having generated mild apathy from critics in its early days of release. The heavier tracks of Definitely Maybe were replaced with ballads in vein of the 1960s British Invasion groups. It expanded on the sound of the debut creating a more introspective record. The result was an album that took the rock world by storm and established Oasis as a 'must see' act of the mid 1990s.
Around this time, the British media steadily built up a rivalry between Oasis and fellow 'Britpop' luminaries Blur. Whilst the rivalry was mostly fictional (although Noel took exception, famously wishing Aids upon Damon Albarn and Alex James), it raised profiles of both bands. In August 1995, Blur and Oasis released the first single from each of their new albums on the same day. Perhaps because it was more aggressively priced (99p vs £1.99), Blur's 'Country House' won the day over 'Roll With It' - selling 274,000 copies to Oasis' 216,000. In the long run, however, Oasis' album outsold Blur's and is considered as the definitive album of the Britpop era. The album spawned three other hit singles; 'Some Might Say', 'Wonderwall', and 'Don't Look Back in Anger', all of which reached either #1 or #2 in the British charts.
As their rise to fame reached its .zenith, Oasis performed back-to-back concerts at Knebworth Park on the 10th and 11th August 1996. The band sold out both shows within minutes, with tickets sold to an aggregate of 250,000 people for the two nights. At the time, the ticket sales held the record for the largest outdoor concert ever held in the UK. Robbie Williams who befriended the Gallagher brothers during this period, eventually sold out three consecutive nights at the same venue in 2003 to break the record. The concert, supported by the Prodigy, the Chemical Brothers and the Manic Street Preachers amongst others, was voted the third 'greatest gig' of all time by readers of Q magazine in 2004, behind Radiohead's appearance at Glastonbury in 1997 and Nirvana's visit to the Reading Festival in 1992.
Oasis released its third album Be Here Now in August 1997, launched by the hit single 'D'You Know What I Mean'. The album was their most eagerly anticipated effort and the subject of considerable media attention - culminating with an hour-long documentary screened by the BBC on the eve of its release. It became the fastest-selling album in British history, and nearly topped the U.S. charts. Be Here Now outsold Definitely Maybe, but failed to reach the heights of their second chart-topper. Although early reviews seemed promising, after the media frenzy settled, and prompted in part by Noel's public criticism of the album, critics and record buyers branded Be Here Now 'bloated' and 'derivative' compared to their earlier efforts. Shortly after its release, British music magazine Melody Maker published an article claiming that Be Here Now was the album most sold to secondhand record shops.
Perhaps some of the supposed 'backlash' which followed the dissapointment of Be Here Now was more due to the natural levelling of interest in the band. Even brothers Liam and Noel have different opinions: Liam still defends Be Here Now, compared to Noel's readiness to wash his hands of it, blaming it on overproduction due to a high intake of cocaine and a lack of time spent on writing the songs. Johnny Depp is credited with playing slide guitar on the track 'Fade In-Out'. Allegedly Noel was too drunk and high on cocaine to perform slide guitar, thus Depp was asked to take his place. Noel Gallagher has admitted he did not play this part saying 'I'll have to own up and say that's not actually me playing the slide part. That was the engineer, because no one in the band can play slide.'
Later years (1998-)
Not long after Be Here Now was released, a typical row dissolved the band's tour. The group kept a low profile, although a compilation of B-sides, The Masterplan, was released in autumn 1998 to critical acclaim. Tracks were voted by fans on the internet, choosing from the extensive range of B-sides. In 1999, ex-drummer Tony McCaroll returned briefly to spotlight. He sued the band, claiming rights on some of the B-sides during Definitely Maybe era, and later received half a million pounds of the sales from The Masterplan. Nevertheless, antics of the band regularly appeared British tabloid newspapers reporting the on-going rows, fistfights, cocaine and alcohol abuse.
While Oasis were recording their fourth album in 1999, guitarist 'Bonehead' left the band after a series of violations of Noel's 'no drink or drugs' policy for the album resulted in a confrontation between the two. Finding the pressure of the band without his close friend too great, bass player Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan soon followed. Whitey, Liam and Noel had to re-record the album, because at the time of its release, Guigsy and Bonehead were already out of the band, with Noel playing all three guitar parts. Speculation in the press about who were the replacements included former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, former Jam frontman Paul Weller, and Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Cradock, who has worked with Noel before. Three other strong possibilites were ex-Suede Bernard Butler, and former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire. Even ex-drummer McCaroll proposed the band to join them as a bassist.
At the end Bonehead and Guigsy were replaced respectively by guitarist Gem Archer (formerly of Heavy Stereo) and Andy Bell (formerly of Ride). With the demise of Creation as an independent entity, Oasis formed their own label, Big Brother, within the Sony group, to release their records in the UK. Oasis's fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was released in February 2000 to good sales but poor reviews. It was a rather experimental record, departing from their familliar Britpop style.
After that the band embarked on a tour. In Barcelona they were forced to cancel a gig, because the hand of Whitey seized up. Instead, the band spent the whole night drinking. While being heavily drunk, Liam made a comment about Noel's then-wife Meg Mathews. This caused a row, which resulted in Noel announcing he was quitting overseas touring, with the band forced to count on the solo-guitarist Matt Deighton to complete the tour. After two months of on-going rumours about band's future, Noel returned for the British leg of the tour, which culminated in a massive Wembley show. They released live record of songs, performed throughout these gigs, called Familiar to Millions. Meanwhile broken marriages followed for Noel, Whitey and Liam.
Their fifth album, Heathen Chemistry, was released in July 2002. The record departed a little bit of the experimental sound of the previous one and instead borrowed heavily from traditional British rock, while combining musical hooks from early work, including the forementioned. Heathen Chemistry also proved to be a much more democratic recording process for the band. Unlike albums of the past, Noel was not the sole songwriter. Liam, Andy, and Gem also contributed their songs to the recording process. Diverse songwriting wasn't the only difference with Heathen Chemistry. Johnny Marr also gave his toll to the album, providing additional guitar as well as back-vocals in several songs. There was also a lack of break-ups, fights, or drug abuse in the studio during the recording of the album, which ultimately gave the record a more relaxed feel compared to past efforts. While critics gave Heathen Chemistry lukewarm reviews, most fans received the album well. Soon after the release, the band embarked on a fairly successful supporting tour for the new album. While Oasis primarily focused on European shows, their tour was successful enough for Q magazine to name them as one of the '50 Bands To See Before You Die'.
Despite the band's efforts to abstain from the drug and alcohol abuse, in December 2002 Liam Gallagher, Whitey, and three members of the band's entourage were arrested in Munich after being involved in a drunken fight at a local club. Loud-mouthed Liam was considerably drunk and full of cocaine, when he scuffled with a bunch of American Football stars - notably the 6'6' builder nicknamed The Powderkeg caused him to lose his front teeth. Then he jumped on stage and twirled the microphone and kicked in the groins police officer, who came to arrest him. Consequently, several shows were cancelled thereafter due to Liam's condition (which caused £170 000 losses for the band) and Liam was fined two years later with £40 000. In 2003, while the band was on tour in the United States, Noel, Andy and touring keyboardist Jay Darlington were involved in a car accident. While none of the band memebers sustained any major injuries, some shows again were cancelled as a result. After the end of the tour, the band spent the rest of the year out of the spotlight.
In early 2004 after 9 years career in Oasis, longtime drummer Alan White left the group for reasons still unknown. In June 2004, Oasis headlined the widely popular Glastonbury Festival for the second time in their career. At Glastonbury, they featured new drummer Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Starkey has not been announced as a permanent replacement of Whitey. In September 2004, the band released Definitely Maybe: The DVD in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album. The DVD contains an enhanced audio version of the debut album, 4 hours of live footage, and interviews with band members and the production team.
The recording process for their sixth album was much endured. It was supposed to be released September 2004. The band started recording in December 2003, but after the departure of White, these sessions were scrapped. Then they worked with the famous duo Death in Vegas, but because of Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes' other commitments, that was also abandoned. After a mixed reaction for their efforts headlining the first night at at Glastonbury, the band scrapped everything and stated that they were beginning from 'the scratch'. After four months, in December 2004, Noel stated that the album is done and so is the sleeve of the album. It should be noted that this album suffered three long dragging and unsuccessful recording sessions just as their debut Definitely Maybe.
The band have enlisted several big tours in June and July supporting the upcoming record. Within three weeks of going on sale fans had bought up over 300,000 tickets selling out at the City of Manchester Stadium, National Bowl Milton Keynes, and Hampden Park, which caused the band to add extra dates to their 2005 summer tour.
In late February 2005 the Chief hinted that the new Dave Sardy-produced album is already mastered with a tentative release date 26 May and will feature 12 songs written by Noel, Liam, Gem and Andy. Possible titles of the new record are 'the Ear has No Memory' and 'Don't Believe the Truth'. The band have said that a single is expected March. Some of the songs that will be on the album are 'Importance of Being Idle', 'Part Of The Queue', 'Stop the Clocks', 'Meaning of Soul' and 'A Bell Will Ring' - the latter two were premiered on Glastonbury. Interviewed by NME Noel has said that his brother will have another Lennonesque ballad as 'Born on a Different Cloud', named 'Guess God Thinks I'm Able' and has especially stressed that Liam made big impact on the album with his songwriting. Noel has also claimed that the Dylanesque album is his favourite from last four, because all members have contributed to it, thus it has different feel than a typical Noel-written album.
With so much material (by Noel's words: about 70 songs written by the quartet), before the sessions with Fearless and Holmes, the band was planning to release two separate records for 2004 and 2005. In a interview for contact music Noel said that in fact they had considered a double album, but reconsidered and scrapped the material to snub the record label Sony, as it will be their last record for this label. Noel said: 'We were going to do a double album, but we don't want to give Sony too much, 'cos it's our last one, so fuck 'em.' However the end of their contract will lead various major record labels, including EMI, V2 and former right-holders Sony to fight for Oasis rights. According to industry insiders, it's possible that the Gallaghers could eventually sign three album deal worth £15 million. According to sources close to the band, the Gallaghers are keen to start again with Alan McGee, forming similar label with a major one behind them. About that Noel Gallagher only said that their contract will be ready in 6 weeks.
1.Definitely Maybe (August 30, 1994) - #1 UK, #58 US
2.(What's the Story) Morning Glory? (October 2, 1995) - #1 UK, #4 US
4.Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (February 28, 2000) - #1 UK, #24 US
5.Heathen Chemistry (July 1, 2002) - #1 UK, #23 US
Lives and Videos
Band Members Over the Years
Early years and breakthrough (1991-1994) / Definitely Maybe:
Britpop and the height of fame (1995-1997) / (What's the Story) Morning Glory? - Be Here Now:
Later years (1998 - 2003) / Standing on the Shoulder of Giants - Heathen Chemistry:
And beyond (2004 - 2005)
This biography is published under the GNU Licence
Items to buy by Oasis