Chart-toppers, tabloid scandal, band bust-ups and Maine Road. 1996 was, without doubt, Oasis’ maddest 12 months. Here’s why.
It begins on January 6, when Oasis postpone their next single because of ‘Wonderwall’'s success. The Mike Flowers Pops' version goes to Number 2, and the track is used in an anti-drug video about Leah Betts, a fan of the band who died after taking ecstasy. The song is played at her funeral.
On January 13 Melody Maker reports three things. 1. All eight Oasis singles up to and including ‘Wonderwall’ are in the Top 66 of the charts. 2. Creation have given Noel Gallagher a brown Rolls Royce. Noel made Alan McGee promise the gift if Oasis “made it really big”. 3. Ex-drummer Tony McCarroll – who played on ‘Definitely Maybe’ – has sued the band for half a million pounds in royalties.
In a news story in a tabloid newspaper on January 18, Liam Gallagher is named as “one of the young men Patsy [Kensit] had a fling with" in the build-up to the breakdown of her marriage to Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr.
‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ goes back to Number One in the charts on January 20, four months after its October 1995 release. Ridiculously, it stays in the top three of the charts for the next seven months.
On January 30 The Sun reports that while working at a car valet service, Manchester City fan Liam Gallagher played pranks on various Manchester United players. Allegedly, he threw a bucket of water over Ryan Giggs, scratched Eric Cantona’s Audi and rubbed wire wool on Paul Ince’s BMW. He was subsequently given his marching orders.
Courtney Love posts an anti-Oasis message on the internet on February 10: “Oasis must die. Do not buy Oasis records. They will come to rape and pillage our women and invade America”. A Q magazine article at the time suggests that Love’s comments represent the feelings of the “threatened grunge aristocracy”.
Oasis release ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ on February 19. Three days later Noel presents a radio show called ‘Gallagher’s London Radio’ on GLR. The show features a Robbie Williams interview, in which the pair claim Robbie’s debut solo single will be written by Noel, and Robbie jokes that Oasis were to blame for getting him sacked from Take That. Noel’s response: “We planned it… we split them up.”
Having sold out 40,000 tickets for their gig at Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium in less than three hours in February, on March 2 Oasis announce a second night. It sells out in 70 minutes. Also this week, gay magazine Attitude names Liam ‘Pin-Up Of The Month’ and suggests he should keep his “back up against the Wonderwall”.
On March 9 clothing company Gloverall report a 20 percent rise in sales of their duffle coats, and say it’s down to the Gallagher brothers’ persistent wearing of their items. Also this week, Creation and Food Records are joint runners-up at the Music Week Awards ion the category of Top Scam for their Oasis vs Blur campaign.
Dr Adrian Rogers from the Conservative Family Institute tells GMTV on March 28 that Britain should boycott Oasis for being a “bad influence”. He picks out Noel’s claims in Melody Maker that “we have burgled houses nicked car stereos, and we like girls and we swear”. The official Oasis response: “The band’s story isn’t unusual for lost kids. The band are an example of what people can achieve.”
Oasis fly off on a European tour, saying that the press “exaggerated” reports that Liam fought on the floor of Dublin’s Westbury Hotel on March 23 with his estranged father, Tommy, after a recent live show at Dublin Point. It is, allegedly, a tabloid newspaper looking for a story that would encourage the reunion of Liam and his Dad.
On April 5 on the Friday night TV programme ‘TFI Friday’, Noel says that he’s written two songs for Oasis’ as-yet non-existent and untitled new album: ‘My Big Mouth’ and ‘I Hope I Think I Know’. When asked for his opinion on Michael Jackson’s Messiah complex, which peaked earlier this year with a performance of ‘Earth Song’ at the BRITS, Noel said: “Who does he think he is, me?”
According to Melody Maker, on April 20 Manchester police request copies of their March 30 issue in which Noel’s “theft” comments were made. The press pick up on the story with the The Guardian quoting Peggy Gallagher as saying, “As far as I know they were never involved in any crime. They were just normal boys.” Meanwhile, Oasis play the legendary Maine Road gigs on April 27 and 28.
On May 11, all 125,000 tickets for Oasis’ Knebworth show on August 10 sell out in four hours. Tickets for a second show on August 11 sell out instantly, as do the band’s August 4 and 5 Loch Lomond shows. Promoters MCP say the gigs are the fastest-selling concerts in the UK ever. Five per cent of the UK population applied about tickets.
Oasis win an All Time Favourite Band in a Music Week poll on June 29, with nearly twice as many votes as The Beatles. An Oasis statement calls the result “blasphemous”, but tabloids say the band are now “bigger than The Beatles”. The Sun publishes pictures of a 10-year-old Noel making his singing debut playing King Herod in a school production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
In one August week, the following things happen: 1. “…Morning Glory?” hits the three million copies sold mark, making it the fourth biggest-selling album in the UK ever. 2. Oasis play to 40,000 fans each night at Loch Lomond in Scotland, an event that leads Melody Maker to declare Oasis “better then The Beatles”. 3. Liam and Patsy Kensit show off their new engagement rings.
Oasis play to 250,000 people over the weekend of August 10 and 11 at Knebworth Park. They are the biggest gigs the UK has ever seen. Former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire joins the band on both nights to play ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘I Am The Walrus’. In his NME review, Johnny Cigarettes says Oasis have “gone beyond rock ‘n’ roll”.
On August 26, Liam is on newspaper front pages and Newsnight after he refuses to get on the plane that’s taking Oasis to Chicago for a 14-date American tour. He says he’s forgotten to buy a house. Liam rejoins the band for a gig in Detroit on August 29. There’s a piece in Here! magazine quoting psychotherapist Adam Jukes, who claims to have treated Liam.
On September 4 Oasis play the MTV Video Music Awards at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, an event broadcast to 300 million people. Oasis perform ‘Champagne Supernova’ and Liam causes outrage as he swears at the crowd (“I hope you’re having a good time, but I know you’re having a shit time”), spits on the stage, throws a beer can and knocks over the microphone. Tame, by his standards.
Noel quits the US tour on September 11, and Oasis cancel their remaining dates and come home. US papers claim Noel quit after a fight with Liam in a hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tabloids run pictures of Noel coming back to the UK looking extremely miserable. He’s rumoured to be unhappy with two things: the downscaling of the Charlotte show and Liam’s lack of discipline.
On September 17, a statement from the band about the scrapped American tour: “The reason for the premature return of the band has NOTHING to do with recent British tabloid hysteria [e.g. poor ticket sales, Liam’s fiancée Patsy Kensit, sibling rivalry]. It was a decision taken by Noel Gallagher on behalf of his four friends.”
On September 28 Oasis officially announce that they are backing Tony Blair’s Labour Party. To ram home the point, at a Labour Youth Experience rally in Blackpool, Creation boss Alan McGee presents Tony Blair with a 10-times-platinum Oasis disc and sponsorship for £10,000. It’s revealed that Blair and Noel have had chats by phone.
On October 6 Noel’s collaboration with The Chemical Brothers, ‘Setting Sun’, goes to Number One in the charts, shifting 200,000 units in its first week. The original recording of the song had Liam on vocals, a demo of which you can hear on YouTube.
When asked on October 19 what the chances were of him and Liam touring together again, Noel tells The Big Breakfast: “Very, very little, I’d say. But you never know, you might see me touring.” Noel adds that album sessions in Abbey Road – for ‘Be Here Now’ – have started slowly. Tabloid reports this week claim that Liam is about to become a catwalk model for Versace.
On November 4 Oasis’ video of (primarily) their Maine Road shows – called ‘…There and Then’ - goes into the music video chart at Number One after outselling their nearest rivals by 18 to one.
On November 9 Liam is arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine. The band say Liam has been set up. According to NOTW, Liam smashes up the snooker room at The Groucho Club and is banned for life. He’s also accused of biting a girl’s nose at an Ocean Colour Scene gig. Oasis’ spokesman says: “It’s complete and utter rubbish. He’s a human being, not a vampire.”
The autumn edition of the New Labour New Britain magazine comes out on November 11 with Noel on the cover, and features an article asserting that he and Blur’s Damon Albarn “agree on one thing at least – the need for a Labour Government”. Noel says that Tony Blair’s Labour Conference speech “brought tears to [his] eyes”.
On November 21 The Sun reports that the police have interviewed Bonehead after a “former friend” claimed the guitarist had threatened to have him shot.
Liam tells The Face on November 27 that the recent American tour collapsed because the band were sick of touring. Elsewhere, Beatles guitarist George Harrison reckons Oasis would be better off without Liam because he’s “excess baggage” and his antics “make the rest looks like a bunch of prannies”.
On December 3, The Sun reports that Noel Gallagher has fallen down the stairs. He is not seriously hurt, and says afterwards: “I was blathered.” Order a print copy of the Collector's Edition online or find it in all good newsagents.