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.
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.
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?”
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’.
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 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.
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.