Oasis are an English rock band, formed in Manchester in 1991. Led by lead guitarist and primary songwriter Noel Gallagher and his younger brother, lead vocalist and songwriter Liam Gallagher, Oasis is the most successful group to emerge during the Britpop movement of the mid-1990s. In 2005, The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles And Albums declared Oasis the Most Successful Act of the Last Decade in the UK. Oasis have sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and have had eight UK number one singles.
Musically and lyrically, Oasis cite British Invasion bands such as The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks as their major influences. They also cite The Stone Roses, The Smiths, The Jam and T.Rex as other key influences.
With the success of their critically acclaimed debut album, Definitely Maybe (1994), and its even more successful follow-up, the 20 million selling (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), coupled with a rivalry with their contemporary Blur, Oasis attained fame in the mid-1990s, and became one of the leaders of the Britpop movement. The Gallagher brothers featured regularly in tabloid newspaper stories, and cultivated a reputation as both bad boys and a band of the people.
At the height of their fame, Oasis' third album, Be Here Now (1997), reached #1 in the UK charts, #2 in the U.S. and also became the fastest-selling album in chart history, with almost half a million copies sold on the first day alone.
(1991–1993) Early years and breakthrough
Oasis evolved from an earlier band called The Rain, who took their name from a 1966 Beatles B-side. It comprised Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan (bass guitar), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (guitar), Tony McCarroll (drums) and Chris Hutton (vocals). When McGuigan invited school friend Liam Gallagher to join the group, Gallagher accepted, and quickly pushed for the band's name to be changed to Oasis. Although there have been many theories on where Liam got the name from, it is most popularly accepted that he got it from an Inspiral Carpets tour poster which was in his and Noel's bedroom. One of the venues on it was the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon.
Oasis first played live in August of 1991 at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Noel Gallagher, who had heard of Liam's involvement when he phoned his mother whilst on tour in Germany as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets, came to watch his younger brother play. A few months later he was invited to join the band. Although he had been critical of them, he agreed, with the provision that he would become the band's sole songwriter and leader, and that they would commit to an earnest pursuit of commercial success. Oasis under Noel Gallagher crafted their musical approach to rely on simplicity: with Arthurs and McGuigan restricted to playing barre chords and root bass notes, respectively, McCarroll playing basic rhythms, and the band's amplifiers turned up until the sound distorted, Oasis created a sound "so devoid of finesse and complexity that it came out sounding pretty much unstoppable."
After over a year of live shows, rehearsals and even taking the time out to record a proper demo (known as the Live Demonstration tape), the band's big break came May 31st when they were spotted by Creation Records co-owner Alan McGee. Oasis were invited to play a gig at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, Scotland, by a band called Sister Lovers, who shared their rehearsal rooms. Oasis, along with a group of friends, found the money to hire a van and make the six-hour journey to Glasgow.
When they arrived, they were refused entry to the club as they were not on that night's set list, but bullied their way in. They were given the opening slot and impressed McGee, who was there to see 18 Wheeler, one of his own bands, that night. McGee was so impressed by what he saw he signed the band to Creation four days later.
(1994–1998) Britpop era and height of fame
Following a limited white label release of the demo of their song "Columbia", their first single, "Supersonic", was released in April 1994, reaching #31 in the charts. Their third single, "Live Forever," was their first to enter the Top 10 of the UK charts. After troubled recording and mixing sessions, their debut album, Definitely Maybe, was finally finished and was released in September 1994, entering the charts at #1, and at the time becoming the fastest selling debut album ever in the UK.
The best part of a year of constant live performances and recordings, along with a typically hedonistic lifestyle commonplace in young rock bands, were starting to tire the band out and a breaking point was finally hit during a gig in Los Angeles in September 1994 where Liam was under the influence of crystal meth, leading to a shambolic performance during which he made offensive remarks about American audiences and assaulted Noel with a tambourine. This upset Noel to such an extent that he temporarily quit the band immediately after and flew to San Francisco. He recovered enough to finally rejoin the band in a Texas recording studio in October 1994 to record new songs, most notably "Talk Tonight" which directly related to his recent experiences. Two of these songs were released as B-sides on Oasis' Christmas single EP "Whatever" which peaked at #3 in the UK charts and foreshadowed the band's move toward a mellower sound on the following album.
Oasis had their first UK #1 in April 1995 with "Some Might Say", the first single from their second album. At the same time, drummer Tony McCarroll was ousted from the band, replaced by Londoner Alan White, formerly of Starclub and younger brother of renowned studio percussionist Steve White, whom Paul Weller himself recommended to Noel. White made his debut for the band at a Top of the Pops performance of "Some Might Say".
Oasis had begun recording material for their second album in May of that year in Rockfield Studios near Monmouth. Although a softer sound led to mixed reviews, Oasis' second album, with their first new member, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? became a huge seller and is currently the third largest selling album of all-time in the UK. The album also went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and spawned two further hit singles "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger", which also reached numbers 2 and 1 respectively. The album's opening track, "Hello", with its sing-along chant, was a common feature of Oasis' live performances. It also contained their hit "Champagne Supernova" — featuring guitar playing and backing vocals by Paul Weller — that received widespread critical acclaim and peaked at #20 on the US charts. Despite not being released in the UK, it received significant airplay and remains one of the band's most popular songs.
In September 1995, bassist Paul McGuigan briefly left the band, citing nervous exhaustion. He was replaced by Scott McLeod, formerly of The Ya-Yas, who featured on some of the tour dates as well as in the "Wonderwall" video before leaving abruptly whilst on tour in the USA. McLeod later contacted Noel Gallagher claiming he felt he had made the wrong decision. Gallagher curtly replied "I think you have too. Good luck signing on". In order to complete the tour, McGuigan was successfully convinced to return to the band.
In February 1996, Oasis became only the third band after The Beatles and The Jam to perform two songs on the same edition of British music television programme Top of the Pops: "Don't Look Back in Anger" and a cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize". On April 27 and 28 the group played their first headline outdoor concerts at Maine Road Football Ground, Manchester. Highlights from the second night featured on the video There And Then, released later the same year. As their career reached its zenith, Oasis performed back-to-back concerts at Knebworth on August 10 and 11, 1996. The band sold out both shows within minutes; 250,000 people over two nights (3.5 million people applied for tickets), at the time a record-breaking number for an outdoor concert held in the UK.
The next month proved to be difficult for the group. On August 23 Oasis were due to play the prestigious MTV Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall but Liam pulled out, citing a sore throat. He watched the performance from a balcony with cold beer and cigarettes, allegedly heckling Noel's singing between songs. The group left for a tour of American arenas early the next month but within days Noel flew home without the band, who followed on another flight. It received massive media attention and the group promptly issued a statement assuring fans that Oasis were not splitting up. Oasis' success at the 1996 BRIT Awards was overshadowed by Noel's statement that "Has-beens shouldn't be presenting awards to gonna-bes." after being presented an award by INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
Oasis spent the end of 1996 and the first quarter of 1997 at historic Abbey Road Studios recording their third album. Be Here Now was released in August 1997, the band choosing to launch it on a Thursday rather than the traditional Monday. Preceded by the UK #1 single "D'You Know What I Mean?", the album was perhaps their most anticipated effort, and as such became the subject of considerable media attention. Anticipation culminated with the screening of the documentary "Right Here, Right Now" on BBC1 on the eve of the album's release. The attendant press attention and hype helped the album become the fastest-selling album in UK history, selling 423,000 units on its day of release, and reached number 2 in the US album chart.
Be Here Now ultimately outsold Definitely Maybe worldwide but could not match the sales of (What's the Story) Morning Glory. Although early media reviews were positive, once the hype had died down, the album was criticised for being bloated and derivative with most of the critics focused on the extensive length of several songs, the heavier sound, and overproduction. Noel defined the album as "the sound of a buncha guys... on coke... in the studio... not giving a fuck."
The Britpop movement was over and the band failed to meet expectations with Be Here Now. After the conclusion of the disastrous Be Here Now tour, amidst huge media criticism the group decided to stay clear of each other and kept a low profile throughout 1998. Noel Gallagher also was criticised for firing most of his stacks of songs into B-sides. Some of these finally found a more high-profile home on The Masterplan, a compilation album of 14 B-sides, released in November. "There was a two- or three-year period where everything I wrote was just fantastic.", related Noel in a recent interview. "And, of course, if all the B-sides for the singles off Morning Glory would’ve been what became the Be Here Now album, I think we would’ve gone on to be possibly one of the biggest bands of all time. Not that we’re not anyway. But I think we would’ve been as big as U2, because I had an idea in my head for Be Here Now – it was to be the most bombastic, fucking hugest-sounding record of all time. And I didn’t worry too much about the words or the arrangements. But the really interesting stuff from around that period is the B-sides. There’s a lot more inspired music on the B-sides than there is on Be Here Now itself, I think."
(1999–2003) Transitional stage
In early 1999 the band began work on their fourth studio album. First details were announced in February with Mark "Spike" Stent revealed to be taking a co-producing role. The majority of the album had been written by a now "clean" Noel Gallagher, who had quit taking cocaine in the summer of 1998. This was to have a major influence on the lyrical content of the album. Recording sessions began in the south of France in April, with everything believed to be have been going to plan. Behind the scenes, however, things were not going well and the shock departure of founding member Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs was announced in August. This departure was reported at the time as amicable, with Noel stating that Arthurs wanted to spend more time with his family. Arthurs' statement clarified his leaving as "to concentrate on other things". However, Noel has since offered a contradicting version: that a series of violations of Noel's "no drink or drugs" policy (imposed by Noel so that Liam could sing properly) for the album's sessions resulted in a confrontation between the two. Oasis fans were given a further shock days later, as the departure of bassist Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan was announced. McGuigan said later that the departure of his close friend triggered his own.
The now three-piece Oasis chose to continue recording the album, with Noel Gallagher re-recording most of Arthurs' guitar and McGuigan's bass parts. The hunt was also on for replacements for the two guitarists with such names as Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr, John Squire, David Potts, Gary "Mani" Mounfield and Steve Cradock all rumoured to be contenders to fill the positions. The first new member to be announced was new lead/rhythm guitarist Colin "Gem" Archer formerly of Heavy Stereo, who later claimed to have been approached by Noel Gallagher only a couple of days after Arthurs' departure was publicly announced. One of Archer's first roles was on November 5, 1999, where he took part in filming of the promo video for Oasis' new single, "Go Let It Out", which was the first single to be taken from their new album. David Potts, who was rehearsing at the time with the band, backed off because he thought he would be sacked soon and didn't want to play the bass. The band then drafted Andy Bell, former guitarist/songwriter of Ride and Hurricane#1 who was announced as their new bassist, a week later. Bell had never played bass before and he was obliged to learn to play it, along with a handful of Oasis' back catalogue of songs, in preparation for a scheduled tour of America in December 1999.
Oasis' fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was released in February 2000 to good first-week sales. However, the album was met with lukewarm reviews and seen as a small but noticeable departure from their traditional sound, with more experimental, psychedelic influences. To coincide with the general atmosphere of change surrounding the band, the cover of the album — an animated photo of New York — featured a new "Oasis" logo designed by Gem Archer and was also the first Oasis release to include a song written by Liam Gallagher, entitled "Little James". As of now, Standing is among the band's lowest-selling albums worldwide, although it did spawn another UK #1 with "Go Let It Out" and contained "Fuckin' in the Bushes", which is often used as an opener for Oasis gigs.
After two months of ongoing rumours about the band's future after every such sibling brawl, Noel returned for the Irish and British legs of the tour, which included two major shows at Wembley Stadium. A live album of the first show, called Familiar to Millions, was released in late 2000 to positive reviews. The second Wembley show, which was broadcast to over a dozen countries, was a chaotic affair. Liam was clearly drunk, making several rambling statements, which included a derogatory announcement of his separation with his wife, Patsy Kensit and also at brother Noel. He also had trouble singing in tune and at times changed the words to certain lines and at other times did not bother to sing at all.
Heathen Chemistry, Oasis' first album with new members Andy Bell and Gem Archer, was released in July 2002. The record blended the band's sonic experiments from their last albums, but borrowed heavily from 1960s and 1970s English rock music. Liam, who was rapidly growing as a capable songwriter, wrote the hit single, "Songbird". Heathen Chemistry was also a much more balanced recording process for the band, with all of the members, apart from White, penning songs. This new working method, along with less fighting and drug and alcohol abuse in the studio, ultimately gave the record a more relaxed feel compared to past efforts. Johnny Marr provided additional guitar as well as backup vocals on a couple of songs, and while critics gave Heathen Chemistry lukewarm reviews, it was commercially successful.
After the album's release, the band embarked on a world tour that was successful but once again flavoured with incidents. In the US kick off Tour in Pompano Beach, Florida, vocalist Liam lost his voice on the third song, after a brief confussion on stage, Noel decided to go alone with the concert, performing most of the Masterplan album songs, it was considered a memorable concert for the fans. In late summer 2002, whilst the band was on tour in the US, Noel, Bell and touring keyboardist Jay Darlington were involved in a car accident in Indianapolis, IN. While none of the band members sustained any major injuries, some shows were cancelled as a result. Liam also suddenly bolted offstage for no apparent reason during a show in Fukuoka, Japan, leaving Noel to take over vocal duties. It was the second Fukuoka show in three years that Liam failed to complete.
In December 2002, the latter half of the German leg of the band's European tour had to be postponed after Liam Gallagher, Alan White and three other members of the band's entourage were involved in a violent brawl at a Munich nightclub. All of the Oasis party were arrested and were only released after the band's management reportedly paid out around £170,000 in bail money. Police later said that Liam, White and members of the band's entourage had been drinking "very heavily". Tests also showed Liam had been taking cocaine as well. Two years later Liam was fined around £35,000, with part of the money going to an injured police officer, violently kicked in the groins by Liam. Liam lost two of his front teeth, while White had a brain scan, due to minor head injuries.
(2004–present) Resurgence in popularity
Oasis began recording a sixth album in late December 2003 with producers Death in Vegas at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall. The album was originally slated for a September 2004 release to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of Definitely Maybe. However, longtime drummer Alan White, who at this time had played on nearly all of the band's material, left the band in early January 2004. At the time, his brother Steve White stated on his own website that "the spirit of being in a band was kicked out of him" and he wanted to be with his current girlfriend. In subsequent interviews, Noel seemed to agree, saying that he has nothing against Alan, but the latter's personal life was impeding on his professional commitments with Oasis.
After much turbulence, the band's sixth album was finally recorded in Los Angeles-based Capitol Studios from October to December the same year. Producer Dave Sardy took over the lead producing role from Noel, who decided to step back from these duties after a decade of producing leadership over the band.
In May 2005, after three years and as many scrapped recording sessions, the band released their sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth, fullfulling their contract with Sony BMG. It followed the path of Heathen Chemistry as being a collaborative project again, rather than a Noel-written album. It was also the band's first album in a decade not to feature the drumming of Alan White, with Zak Starkey taking his place. The record was generally hailed as the band's best effort since (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by fans and critics alike, spawning two UK #1 singles: "Lyla" and "The Importance of Being Idle" (the band's 7th and 8th #1 UK singles, respectively), whilst "Let There Be Love" entered at #2. Oasis picked up two awards at the Q Awards: one a special People's Choice Award and the second for Don't Believe the Truth as Best Album. Following in the footsteps of Oasis' previous five albums, Don't Believe the Truth also entered the UK album charts at #1. The three singles off that album were all hits in the UK and demonstrated the fact Oasis can still make the music and attract the fans 10 years after they were at their most popular.
In May 2005, the band embarked on a massive world tour — one of the biggest in their career. Beginning on May 10 at the London Astoria, and finishing on March 31, 2006 in front of a sold out gig in Mexico City, Oasis played more live shows than at any time since the Definitely Maybe tour of 1994–1995, visiting 26 countries, headlining 110 shows and playing to 1.7 million people. The tour passed without any major incidents and was the band's most successful in more than a decade. The tour included sold out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden and LA's Hollywood Bowl, two venues important to the Gallagher brothers because their idol, John Lennon, proclaimed them to be the two places a band must play if they visit the States.
In 2006, Oasis released a "Best-of" double album entitled Stop the Clocks, which featured what the band consider to be their "definitive" songs. Though the band didn't want to release a 'Best of', their contract with Sony Music had just expired, forcing a release against the band's wishes. In November 2006 the band released "Lord Don't Slow Me Down", a rockumentary film looking back at the 2005–2006 world tour. That same month, Noel and Gem, backed by Terry Kirkbride, began a short tour to promote Stop the Clocks. They have played around a dozen shows in various countries around the world.
On February 14, 2007, Oasis as a fourpiece received the BRIT Award for outstanding contribution to music.
Oasis' next album has been hinted at by Noel. In April 2007 issue of NME he claimed "The next one in theory is already fucking written. I've got eight songs that I'm pretty happy with. I think Liam's got one or two that he thinks are brilliant. We're waiting for Gem and Andy. It's just a case of sitting down and saying, 'When do we want to do this?'".
In an interview the BBC's Colin Paterson Noel said the songs are written and Oasis were due to start recording their seventh studio album on July 3. He added "It would be great if it was done by the end of the year and we could get out on the road by next summer, but that's insane wishful thinking."