Rock band from Dublin, Ireland
Oasis are an English rock band that formed in Manchester in 1991. Originally known as The Rain, the group was formed by Liam Gallagher (vocals and tambourine), Paul Arthurs (guitar), Paul McGuigan (bass guitar) and Tony McCarroll (drums, percussion), who were soon joined by Liam's older brother Noel Gallagher (lead guitar and vocals). As of June 2009, Oasis had sold over 70 million records worldwide. They have had eight UK number-one singles, fifteen NME Awards, nine Q Awards, four MTV Europe Music Awards and five BRIT Awards, including one in 2007 for outstanding contribution to music.
The band initially gained prominence performing on the Manchester club circuit. Its members were signed to independent record label Creation Records and afterwards released their record-setting debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994. The following year, the band recorded the critically acclaimed (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) with their new drummer Alan White in the midst of rivalry with Britpop peers Blur in the charts. The Gallagher brothers featured regularly in tabloid newspapers for their sibling disputes and wild lifestyles. Oasis released their third album, Be Here Now, in 1997, which became the fastest-selling album in UK chart history, but lost much of its long-term appeal after initial enthusiasm tempered. The band lost two long-time members Paul McGuigan and Paul Arthurs as they went on to record and release Standing on the Shoulder of Giants in 2000 and Heathen Chemistry in 2002. The band found renewed success and popularity with their albums Don't Believe the Truth and Dig Out Your Soul and their supporting tours.
In late August 2009, Noel Gallagher announced his departure from the band.
Oasis evolved from an earlier band called The Rain, composed of Paul McGuigan (bass guitar), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (guitar), Tony McCarroll (drums) and Chris Hutton (vocals). Unsatisfied with Hutton, Arthurs auditioned acquaintance Liam Gallagher as a replacement. Liam suggested that the band name be changed to Oasis. This change was inspired by an Inspiral Carpets tour poster which hung in the Gallagher brothers' bedroom. One of the venues the poster listed was the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon. Oasis played their first live gig in August 1991 at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Noel Gallagher, who was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, went with the band to watch his younger brother's band play. Whilst Noel Gallagher and his friends did not think Oasis sounded particularly spectacular, he did begin to consider the possibility of using his brother's group as a possible outlet for a series of songs he'd been writing for several years. Noel approached the group about joining with the proviso 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 a musical approach that relied on simplicity, with Arthurs and McGuigan restricted to playing barred chords and root bass notes, respectively; McCarroll playing basic rhythms, and the band's amplifiers turned up as to create distortion, 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 a recording of 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.
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". This song would become the subject of a plagiarism suit, with Oasis paying $500,000 in damages. 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 1, 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 hedonistic lifestyle, were taking their toll on the band. This behaviour culminated during a gig in Los Angeles in September 1994 where Liam was under the influence of crystal meth, leading to an inept performance during which he made offensive remarks about American audiences and assaulted Noel with a tambourine. The incident upset Noel to such an extent that he temporarily quit the band immediately after and flew to San Francisco (it was from this incident that the song "Talk Tonight" was written). He was tracked down by Creation's Tim Abbot and they made a trip to Las Vegas. Once there, Gallagher was persuaded to continue with the band. He 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 3. This song would later carry a co-writer's credit for Neil Innes, who sued and also won damages.
Oasis had their first UK number 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. McCarroll said, on leaving Oasis, that he was “unlawfully expelled from the partnership” for what he called a “personality clash” with the brothers. The Gallaghers, on the other hand, doubted McCarroll’s musical ability, with Noel saying: “I like Tony as a geezer but he wouldn't have been able to drum the new songs”. McCarroll was 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 British press seized upon a supposed rivalry between Oasis and Britpop band Blur. Previously, Oasis did not associate themselves with the Britpop movement and were not invited to perform on the BBC's "Britpop Now" programme introduced by Blur singer Damon Albarn. On 14 August 1995, Blur and Oasis released new singles on the same day, setting up "The Battle of Britpop" that dominated the national 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 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.
Bassist Paul McGuigan briefly left the band in September 1995, 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 1 on the US modern rock charts. The group played their first headline outdoor concerts at Maine Road Football Ground, Manchester on 27 April and 28 April 1996. 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 10 August and 11 August. The band sold out both shows within minutes; 250,000 people over two nights (2.5 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 day 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.
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. Quarrels between the Gallagher brothers and heavy drug use plagued the recording sessions. Be Here Now was released in August 1997. Preceded by the UK number 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. 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 2 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.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 an interview in 2008.