Oasis are an English rock band, formed in Manchester in 1991. The band were formed by Liam Gallagher (vocals), Paul Arthurs (guitar), Paul McGuigan (bass) and Tony McCarroll (drums), who were soon joined by Liam's older brother Noel Gallagher (lead guitar). Oasis have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, and have had eight UK number one singles. Liam and Noel Gallagher are the only continual band members. The present lineup is completed by songwriters rhythm/lead guitarist Gem Archer and bass guitarist Andy Bell, rounded by as-yet unofficial drummer Zak Starkey.
The band initially gained prominence performing on the Manchester club circuit. They were signed to independent record label Creation Records and afterwards released their debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994, leading the Britpop movement. The following year, the band recorded (What's the Story) Morning Glory? with their new drummer Alan White, while rivaling with Britpop peers Blur. The Gallagher brothers were featured regularly in tabloid newspapers for their sibling rivalry and wild lifestyles, cultivating a reputation as both bad boys and a band of the people. At the height of their fame, Oasis' third album, Be Here Now, reached number one in the UK charts, number two in the U.S. and also became the fastest-selling album in UK chart history, with almost half a million copies sold on the first day alone and just under 700,000 copies in its first week. The album, however, was critically lambasted for its "cocaine" sound and the extensive length of the songs.
In 2000, while recording their fourth album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Oasis lost two founding members and suffered a notable drop in popularity in America. The band added replacements Gem Archer and Andy Bell for Heathen Chemistry in 2002, which was commercially successful and well-received among fans. In 2005, their sixth album Don't Believe the Truth, despite turbulent recording, became their best-selling and best-received album in a decade. The following year, the band released a "best-of" album entitled Stop the Clocks. In February 2007, Oasis received the BRIT Award for outstanding contribution to music. The band is currently recording their seventh studio album.
Oasis evolved from an earlier band called The Rain, comprised of Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan (bass guitar), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (guitar), Tony McCarroll (drums) and Chris Hutton (vocals). Unsatisfied with Hutton, Arthurs auditioned acquaintance Liam Gallagher as a replacemment. After Gallagher joined the group, the band's name was changed to Oasis, which was inspired by an Inspiral Carpets tour poster which was in his and his brother 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 was a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets, went with the band to watch his younger brother's band play. While Gallagher and his friends did not think Oasis was spectacular, he began to consider his brother's group as a possible outlet for songs he had been writing for years. Noel approached the group about joining its membership, 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. "He had loads of stuff written," Arthurs recalled. "When he walked in, we were a band making a racket with four tunes. All of a sudden, there were loads of ideas." 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 in May 1993 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 club 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, which reportedly caused the band to bully their way in (although both the band and Alan McGee have given contradicting statements about how they actually managed to get into the club on that night). 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. Due to problems securing an American contract, Oasis ended up signing a worldwide contract with Sony, which in turn licensed Oasis to Creation in the UK.
Britpop Era and Height of Fame (1994–1996)
Following a limited white label release of the demo of their song "Columbia", their first single, "Supersonic", was released in April 1994, reaching number 31 in the charts. The release was followed by "Shakermaker". 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 released in September 1994, entering the charts at number one, and at the time becoming the fastest selling debut album 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 was tracked down by Creation's Tim Abbot and during a trip by the pair to Las Vegas Gallagher decided to continue with the band. Gallagher reconciled with his brother and the tour resumed in Minneapolis. The group followed up the fourth single from Definitely Maybe, "Cigarettes and Alcohol", with the Christmas single EP "Whatever" which entered the British charts at number three.
Oasis had their first UK number one 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 recommended to Noel. White made his debut for the band at a Top of the Pops performance of "Some Might Say". Oasis began recording material for their second album in May of that year in Rockfield Studios near Monmouth.
During this period, the English press seized upon a supposed rivalry between Oasis and fellow Britpop band Blur. On 14 August 1995, Blur and Oasis released new singles on the same day, setting up "The Battle of Britpop" that dominated the week's music news. Blur's "Country House" outsold Oasis' "Roll with It" 274,000 copies to 216,000 during the week. Oasis' management came up with several reasons for this, claiming "Country House" sold more because it was less expensive (£1.99 vs £3.99) and because there were two different versions of "Country House" with different B-Sides forcing serious fans to buy two copies. An alternative explanation given at the time by Creation was that there were problems associated with the barcode on the "Roll With It" single case, which did not record all sales. Noel Gallagher told The Observer in September that he hoped Blur's Damon Albarn and Alex James of Blur would "catch AIDS and die", which caused a media furore. He subsequently apologised for this in a formal letter to various publications.
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 while 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.
Although a softer sound led to mixed reviews, Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was a commercial success, becoming the third largest selling album of all time in the UK with over four million copies sold. The album spawned two further hit singles "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger", which also reached numbers two and one respectively. It also contained the non-UK single "Champagne Supernova" — featuring guitar playing and backing vocals by Paul Weller — that received widespread critical acclaim and peaked at number 20 on the US charts.
On April 27 and April 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 August 11, 1996. The band sold out both shows within minutes; 375,000 people over two nights (10 million people applied for tickets, and 375,000 were actually sold, meaning the possibility of 53 sold out nights), at the time a record-breaking number for an outdoor concert held in the UK, and to this today the largest demand for a show in British history.
The next month proved to be difficult for the group. In August, Oasis was due to record an episode of 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, heckling Noel's singing between songs. Four days later the group left for a tour of American arenas but Liam refused to go; the band decided to continue the tour with Noel on vocals. Liam rejoined the tour on 30 August, but a few weeks later Noel flew home without the band, who followed on another flight. This event prompted media speculation that the group was splitting up. The brothers soon reconciled and decided to complete the tour.
Be Here Now and lineup changes (1997–2000)
Oasis spent the end of 1996 and the first quarter of 1997 at Abbey Road Studios in London and Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey recording their third album. Be Here Now was released in August 1997. Preceded by the UK number one 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. By the end of the first day of release, Be Here Now sold over 350,000 units and by the end of business on Saturday of that week sales had reached 696,000, making it the fastest-selling album in British history. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard charts in the United States, but its first week sales of 152,000 – below expected sales of 400,000 copies – were considered a disappointment. 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 in retrospect 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. That year Oasis released The Masterplan, a compilation album of 14 B-sides, released in November. "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", related Noel in a recent interview.
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 mid-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. After the completion of the recording sessions, the band began searching for replacement members. 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. The band was rehearsing with David Potts, but he quickly resigned, and they brought in Andy Bell, former guitarist/songwriter of Ride and Hurricane#1 as their new bassist. 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.
With the folding of Creation Records, Oasis formed their own label, Big Brother, which released all of Oasis' records in the UK and Ireland. Oasis' fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was released in February 2000 to good first-week sales. It peaked at number one on the British charts and number 24 on the Billboard charts. Three singles were released from the album: "Go Let It Out", "Who Feels Love?" and "Sunday Morning Call", all of which were top 5 UK singles. With the departure of the founding members, the band made several small changes to their image and sound. The cover featured a new "Oasis" logo, designed by Gem Archer, and the album was also the first Oasis release to include a song written by Liam Gallagher, entitled "Little James". The songs also had more experimental, psychedelic influences. The album received only lukewarm reviews and, as of now, Standing is among the band's lowest-selling albums worldwide.
To support the record the band staged an eventful world tour. While touring in Barcelona in 2000, Oasis were forced to cancel a gig when Alan White's arm seized up, and the band spent the night drinking instead. Liam made a derogatory comment about Noel's then-wife Meg Mathews, and attempted to cast doubt over the legitimacy of Noel's daughter Anais, causing a scuffle. Following this, Noel declared he was quitting touring overseas altogether, and Oasis were supposed to finish the tour without him. Noel eventualy 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 mixed 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.
Transitional Years (2001-2004)
Throughout 2001, Oasis split time between sessions for their fifth studio album and live shows around the world. Some gigs included the month-long Tour of Brotherly Love with The Black Crowes and Spacehog and a show in Paris supporting Neil Young. The album, Heathen Chemistry, Oasis' first album with new members Andy Bell and Gem Archer, was released in July 2002. The album reached number one in the UK and number 23 in US, although critics gave it mixed reviews. There were four singles released from the album: "The Hindu Times", "Stop Crying Your Heart Out", "Little by Little/She Is Love", and the Liam-penned "Songbird", Oasis' first single not written by Noel. The record blended the band's sonic experiments from their last albums, but also went for a more basic rock sound. Heathen Chemistry was a much more balanced recording process for the band, with all of the members, apart from White, penning songs. Johnny Marr provided additional guitar as well as backup vocals on a couple of songs.
After the album's release, the band embarked on a successful world tour that was once again filled with incidents. 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. 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 arrested after a violent brawl at a Munich nightclub. The band had been drinking heavily and tests showed that Liam may have been using cocaine. Liam lost two front teeth and kicked a police officer in the ribs. Two years later Liam was fined around £40,000.
Oasis began recording a sixth album in late December 2003 with producers Death in Vegas at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall. The album was originally planned 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. White was replaced by Zak Starkey, drummer of The Who and the son of Beatles' Ringo Starr. Though Starkey performs on studio recordings and tours with the band, as of yet he is not officially a member and the band is a four-piece for the first time in their career. Starkey played publicly for the first time at Poole Lighthouse. A few days later, Oasis, with Starkey, headlined the Glastonbury Festival for the second time in their career and performed a greatest hits set, which included two new songs — Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" and Liam Gallagher's "The Meaning of Soul". The performance received negative reviews, with NME calling it a "disaster."
Resurgence in popularity (2005-present)
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, fulfilling 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 number one singles: "Lyla" and "The Importance of Being Idle" (the band's seventhth and eighth number one UK singles, respectively), whilst "Let There Be Love" entered at number two. 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 number one.
In May 2005, the band embarked on a large scale world tour. Beginning on 10 May 2005 at the London Astoria, and finishing on 31 March 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, 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. A rockumentary film was made during the tour. The film, entitled Lord Don't Slow Me Down was released in October 2007. A second DVD included live footage from an Oasis gig in Manchester from 3 July 2005.
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. So, the band chose to be involved, "otherwise it would be shit" as Noel said later in an interview. During November 2006, Noel and Gem, backed by drummer Terry Kirkbride, began a short tour to promote Stop the Clocks. They played around a dozen shows in various countries around the world.
In February 2007, Oasis received the BRIT Award for outstanding contribution to music. Afterwards the band played several of their most famous songs. Oasis released their first ever digital-only release, "Lord Don't Slow Me Down", in October 2007. The song debuted at number 10 in the U.K singles charts. Oasis' seventh studio album has been confirmed for a 2008 release. Oasis recorded for a couple of months between July and September with completing work on two new songs and demoing the rest. They took a two-month break, because of the birth of Noel's son. In early November they resumed recording with Liam saying in Reuters interview that "It'll be done by the 15th of December, if everything goes well. Then we'll have Christmas off, and we'll go to L.A., mix it and maybe do a bit more over there." A recent posting on their official website confirmed that the band re-entered the studio on 5 November 2007 with Don't Believe the Truth producer Dave Sardy.