Famous Like Me > Singer > G > Noel Gallagher
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Profile of Noel Gallagher
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||29th May 1967
|Place of Birth:
||Longsight, Manchester, England, UK
Noel Thomas David Gallagher (born May 29, 1967 in Longsight, Manchester) is the lead songwriter and guitarist with the British rock band Oasis. He is the older brother of Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and the two are often pigeon-holed as squabbling siblings. In the 1990s, he was centre stage of the Britpop movement. Oasis' first album, Definitely Maybe, became the fastest selling British debut ever, and the follow-up (What's the Story) Morning Glory? defined its era.
Noel was born in Longsight, Manchester to Irish parents Peggy and Thomas Gallagher. He is the middle child of three, his elder brother Paul was born in 1966, and Liam was born 1972. The Gallagher brothers grew up in the suburb of Burnage. Noel first began to teach himself to play guitar at the age of 13, imitating his favourite songs from the radio. Both he and Liam were regular truants and in their teens were often in trouble with the police - they allegedly broke into cars and stole bicycles, and at the age of thirteen, Noel received six months' probation for robbing a corner shop. He attended St Robert's Infant School in Longsight (1971), St Bernard's Primary in Burnage (1972) and St Mark's Secondary in Didsbury (1978). His childhood nickname was Brezhnev, after the former Russian president known for his bushy eyebrows.
In April 1984 (some sources suggest April 1986), Peggy left her husband due to his violent mood swings brought about by his alcoholism, taking their three boys with her. Noel has since maintained a strained relationship with his father, notwithstanding periods in the 1980s in which all the Gallagher siblings (along with numerous cousins and uncles) at one time or another worked for their father's construction company. Other jobs endured by Noel include being a sign writer for an estate agent, as well as working in a bed factory and a bakery.
Having left his father's building company, Noel took a job at another building firm sub-contracted to British Gas, until sustaining an injury whereby a heavy cap from a steel gas pipe landed on his right foot, crushing it. Following a period of recuperation, Gallagher was offered a less physically demanding role in the company's storehouse, freeing up time in which to practice guitar and write songs. Gallagher now claims to have written at least three of the songs on Definitely Maybe in this storehouse. Much of the late 1980s found Gallagher unemployed and living in a bedsit, occupying his time with drugs, songwriting and guitar playing.
In 1988, Noel auditioned to be vocalist for the band Inspiral Carpets. Though rejected for the position, he was hired by the band as a guitar technician. In 1992, he returned from an American tour with the band to find that his brother had become lead singer with local band Oasis. The band also featured Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs on rhythm guitar, Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan on bass and Tony McCaroll on drums. It transpired that Liam had joined the band with the hope of adding Noel, and his songwriting abilities, to the formula. Noel attended an Oasis concert at Manchester's Boardwalk, finding himself unimpressed by the group's act. After cajoling by Liam, he agreed to join the band on the condition that he maintain creative control of the group and become its sole songwriter. The rest of the band agreed, at which point Oasis undertook a year of intensive rehearsing.
Perhaps as a result of Noel's perceived arrogance, or genuine self-belief, Oasis resisted the route of the typical unsigned band. Neglecting to send out any demos to record companies, the band waited instead for a record deal to come to them, which it did in the form of Creation Records' Alan McGee. After seeing the band perform at Glasgow club King Tut's - a gig they allegedly bullied their way into - McGee invited Oasis to meet with him a week later in London, at which point they were signed to a six album contract. Their first album, Definitely Maybe, was released two years later in 1994 and was a critical and commercial success, becoming the fastest-selling debut album in British history. However, tension mounted between Noel and McCaroll, and in 1995, the band asked the drummer to leave. He was replaced by Alan White.
1995 saw the release of Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. Though it suffered initial critical apathy, the album became the second fastest-selling album in the UK. With the help of a well-publicised feud between the Gallaghers and members of fellow britpop band Blur, Morning Glory became the springboard to mainstream commercial success for Noel and the band. The Gallaghers became household names, and as the momentum of the album built, Oasis went on to become one of the most popular and successful British acts of the 1990s. The album even propelled the band to success in America, albeit temporarily. Noel's extensive catalogue of songs - ironically written in the storehouses and bedsits he had so bemoaned in the 80s - were the fuel behind Oasis' success in the 90s. Noel has revealed that he suffers from dyslexia, and finds the disorder to be something of an challenge in the process of writing songs.
1995 also saw Gallagher join his friends Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp to form the Smokin' Mojo Filters. The supergroup, assembled by Weller, recorded The Beatles' 1969 hit "Come Together" (the song's lyrics "He no Mojo filter" inspiring the name for the makeshift band) for the charity album Help!. Noel has also collaborated with the Chemical Brothers, Ian Brown, The Stands, The Prodigy and Paul Weller, amongst others.
Gallagher is a keen fan of music and has played a part in pushing and inspiring the careers of many new bands including Coldplay, Travis and The Zutons. Richard Ashcroft (formerly of The Verve, and the person for whom the song "Cast No Shadow" was written) once stated that "Noel Gallagher opened our eyes; for a lot of young people in the North West, to pick up a guitar." Oasis are also attributed by some with helping to resurrect stadium rock concerts in England, most noticeably with their record-breaking summer shows at Knebworth in August 1996.
Gallagher married girlfriend Meg Mathews in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 5th, 1997, preceding the release of the third Oasis album, Be Here Now, on 21 August. Following the worldwide success of Morning Glory, it became their most eagerly anticipated album to date, possibly the most eagerly awaited album of the 1990s. As with the previous two albums, all the tracks were written by Noel. After the initial blaze of publicity, positive critical reviews, and commercial success, the album did not live up to long-term expectations, and the public's goodwill towards Be Here Now was short-lived. The album was ultimately regarded by many as a bloated, over-indulgent version of Oasis, defended by Noel as being due to his drug-addicted state at the time. Noel began to suffer panic attacks during this period, his lonely, paranoid state inspiring the song Gas Panic, subsequently included on the 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
After the near-hysterical hype surrounding the release of Be Here Now had started to lessen, critical response to the band became calmer and more considered, leading to an inevitable media backlash. In 1997, Noel was criticised for attending a high profile and well-publicised media party at 10 Downing Street, hosted by the newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with other celebrities and industry figures that had supported New Labour in the run-up to the general election. The perception of Gallagher, as someone now mixing with politicians, conflicted with the authentic "working class hero" status championed through songs such as Up In The Sky. In 1999, after a row with Noel, Bonehead quit the band, with Guigsy soon following. As a result, the fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was recorded by just Noel, Liam and White, with Noel playing all guitar parts. The album customarily peaked at number one, but was met with an even greater level of contempt by the critics than their previous effort. On January 27, 2000, Mathews gave birth to a daughter, Anais. However, Gallagher and Mathews divorced shortly afterwards, in January 2001, following Liam's own announcement of his separation from Patsy Kensit. It is rumoured that Mathews could not abide Noel's desire to move to the countryside and missed partying with her friends in London. Wonderwall - arguably Oasis' most famous and successful song - was written for Mathews, and, perhaps as a result, the band have played it less and less since the divorce. He has since entered a long-term relationship with Sara MacDonald.
The recruiting of Andy Bell and Gem Archer for their fifth studio album, as well as allowing a greater level of lyrical input from the other band members, proved a shrewd move on Noel's part, and in 2002 Heathen Chemistry was released, to reviews far more positive than for the band's previous two albums.
Oasis appeared on the music scene in 1994 and quickly made a public image for themselves. Whereas other Britpop bands such as Elastica and The Manic Street Preachers chose not to play the media "game", Oasis chose to portray themselves, arguably realistically, as loud mouthed, arrogant and aggressive. This caught the public's imagination. Though Liam appears to have really taken it to heart, often verbally abusing photographers and members of the public, Noel tends to be more reserved, becoming aggressive only when provoked by people such as Robbie Williams, Damon Albarn of Blur or anyone who challenges his belief that Oasis are the best band in the world. On one occasion he became slightly confrontational when an interviewer praised them as "one of the biggest bands in the world", Noel immediately snapped "What do you mean one of? Name one band who's bigger." In one of his more "tongue-in-cheek" moments Noel simply stated "If people don't like Oasis, they're shit."
Noel is well known for his controversial, outspoken statements in the press. In the midst of their feud with Blur, he told one interviewer that he hoped lead singer Damon Albarn and bassist Alex James would die of AIDS. When George Harrison accused Oasis of being little more than a passing fad Noel commented "George was always the quiet Beatle, maybe he should keep that up" (this however, was not as threatening as his brother's promise to play golf off of Harrison's head should they ever meet). When George Michael released the politically charged single "Shoot the Dog", Noel observed "He's... trying to make social comment, this is the guy who hid who he actually was from the public for twenty years, now, all of a sudden, he's got something to say about the way of the world. I find it laughable. That's even before you get to the song, which is diabolical." He said of Kylie Minogue "I don't hate Kylie but I hate her music with a passion - it's just unbridled filth, it's disgusting." He described the protests against the second Gulf War in London as "a bloody waste of time". In the same interview he said of the British "We are a nation of moaning sissies, regardless of who governs. The British get on my nerves. They moan about the weather, about the French, about the Germans. They moan about cricket, football – they should just keep their mouths shut." When asked about American youngsters taste in music, he stated "(They) shouldn't be able to buy records until (they are) 16. You'll buy any old nonsense - fucking Britney and Eminem." Noel acknowledged his tendency for faux pas in the song "My Big Mouth" on Be Here Now. In early 2001 he was criticised for saying that the Backstreet Boys "should be shot"
Gallagher is often criticized for the praise he gives to his own songs. Though many consider this to be intense arrogance, he himself maintains that it is merely self-confidence and points out "If you'd written Live Forever, you'd be walking to a different tune the next day too". He is not afraid to poke fun at his 'self confidence'. In an interview with Jonathan Ross, he joked that there was nothing he liked to do more that to gather a group of friends and to discuss just how great he is. When Ross asked if he would ever do the same with a group of other legendary musicians, Noel was quick to point out that that would be very bad for his ego.
He is famous for taking inspiration from The Beatles. Oasis often made comparisons between themselves and The Beatles. On the inlay to Be Here Now are scrawled the words "The Beatles - quite good, Oasis - much better". The video for All Around The World has been said to resemble Yellow Submarine and in the video for Don't Look Back in Anger, he wears a pair of Lennonesque orange-tinted circular glasses, which Lennon referred to as "granny glasses". Both he and Liam can often be seen wearing similar glasses. There are several references to The Beatles in his songs, and for the intro to Don't Look Back in Anger, Noel 'borrowed' the piano intro to John Lennon's Imagine.
Before Oasis' arrival in 1994, many debated whether British rock music had had its day. Radio stations were playing with American grunge, headed by characters such as Kurt Cobain, and dance music. However, in 1994 the release Definitely Maybe helped to kickstart Britpop, a movement of guitar based British rock music. Supersonic was a roaring battle cry; songs like Live Forever were the polar opposite of the "I hate myself and want to die" attitude championed by Cobain; Slide Away was dedicated to an ex-girlfriend and Married with Children a droll voice lamenting a current one.
He is sometimes criticised for his tendency to imitate the styles of other bands. Many of Oasis' songs bare more that a passing resemblance to the music he admires, or has at least caught his attention. The opening track on 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, Hello, contains elements of Gary Glitter's Hello Hello I'm Back Again. Roll With It B-side Rockin' Chair owes to Growing Old by Christopher Griffiths. Definitely Maybe second single "Shakermaker" comes complete with a melody adapted from I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (the Coca-Cola song). 1994's Christmas no. 3, Whatever, contains musical elements of How Sweet To Be An Idiot by Neil Innes. Then, of course, there is the influence derived from the Beatles. Aside from Don't Look Back In Angers blatant - and unashamed - steal from Imagine, there is also the melodic similarities between Up In The Sky and The Beatles Rain, and the keyboards in Go Let It Out being similar to that in McCartney's Fool On The Hill to name but a few. Paul McCartney light-heartedly commented "Their stuff sounds very Beatle-ish. I sometimes have to check to see if it isn't one of ours that's if it's a track I haven't heard very much or something.” When it was suggested that Oasis take legal action against pop band Hear'Say for their first single's uncanny similarity to All Around The World, Noel simply laughed at the hypocrisy of such an act.
Though the albums Be Here Now (1997), Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000) and Heathen Chemistry (2002) have not been received with the same level of enthusiasm by critics, the public appeal has remained strong, with all of their albums to date reaching number one in the British albums. Standing On the Shoulder of Giants included Oasis' first ever album track written not by Noel, but by his brother Liam. Heathen Chemistry included a further 3 tracks by Liam (including Songbird, which was released as a single), and a couple by guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell. As of late 2004 for their sessions for the next album, Noel proudly claims that Liam had developed even further as a songwriter and from 66 tunes, his brother made most of them and that he'd written only 14 of them.
Gallagher occasionally provides lead vocals as can be seen on songs such as Don't Look Back In Anger, Sad Song, D'yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, Half The World Away and The Masterplan. Though his voice has been criticised for being dull compared to Liam's, Noel is able to reach notes which Liam cannot, hence, on songs like Live Forever, Noel sings the higher line, in this case, You and I are gonna live forever. When Liam was struck down with a "sore throat" before the MTV Unplugged set, Noel was forced to provide both guitar and vocals. On recent Oasis albums, Noel has sung more songs, apparently to compensate for his diminished role as songwriter, causing some tension with Liam. He recounted a particular exchange to the British Big Issue in 2005 which illustrates the situation:
Liam: "Well, I'm supposed to be the singer."
Noel: "Well, I'm supposed to be the songwriter."
Liam: "Well, I should be singing more."
Noel: "Well, I should be writing more songs"
Liam: "So are you saying that if we stop writing more
songs, I can start singing more songs?"
Noel: "Well, that's pretty much what it fucking boils
down to, yeah."
The Gallagher brothers famously share a turbulent relationship. Their arguments have achieved a status as something of Rock Legend. One of their arguments was even released on a bootleg single entitled Wibbling Rivalry. The arguments seem to pit Noel's calm, complacent wit, logic and canniness against Liam's arrogance, tendency to fly off the handle, penchant for psychedelic non sequiturs (he once ended an on-stage argument by appealing to the crowd for biscuits) and his vocal dedication to any stand-point, no matter how incorrect or easy to dispel it is. Although Noel often ends up making Liam appear quite stupid in these exchanges, Liam's tendency to shout and swear his brother down appears an equally effective tactic. There are only a handful of known incidents where the two have actually come to blows. During their first American tour in 1994, Liam took to changing the words of the songs so that they were offensive to both Americans and Noel. A confrontation after the show led to a chair being thrown and Noel leaving the tour and heading for Las Vegas, claiming he had "visions of Fear and Loathing flashing in [his] eyes". He was eventually tracked down and returned to the tour before he could live out his dream of disappearing and buying a bar on a beach somewhere. Whilst on tour in Barcelona in 2000, Oasis were forced to cancel a gig when Alan White's arm seized up, the band spent the night drinking instead. Liam made a derogatory comment about Noel's then wife Meg Mathews and Noel punched him, knocking him down. Following this, Noel declared he was quitting touring overseas altogether, and Oasis were forced to finish the tour without him. He has since repented on his promise to quit touring overseas. In a 2004 interview, Noel mockingly described Liam as a great singer, but, in terms of the band "He is Abbott to my Costello, he is Cannon to my Ball, he is Little to my Large". However, all jokes and teasing aside, Noel maintains that they are now good friends, and rarely fall out.
Wibbling Rivalry (Q Interview - April 7, 1994)
An excerpt of the argument released on the Wibbling Rivalry single:
Noel: Do you know John Lennon?
Liam: Do you know him?
Noel: I don't, but do you?
Noel: Well, you must be pretty old. How old are you? 21?
Liam: No. About fuckin' thousand and five fuckin' one.
Noel: You're 22.
Liam: No, I'm 21.
Noel: Right. And remember, I watched you being born...
Noel: ...and I don't even know John Lennon.
Noel: Right, then, so shut the fuck up about knowing John Lennon.
Noel Outsmarts Liam Again - December 1998
Noel: (Oasis) is not my band.
Liam: Whose band is it?
Noel: Your band.
Liam: Did you hear that?! It's my band!
Are you recording this Mr Journalist?
It's My Band!
Noel: It's your band.
Liam: Hang on a minute... It's not my band
now that we're sh*t and no-one likes us!
Noel: It's your band.
Liam: It was my band when we were popular!
You sneaky bastard! [Aims kick at Noel]
Steve Lamacq Show - November 1997
Liam: Evan is very cool he used to live in Burnage yer know?
Noel: I will admit it. Hes pretty kool
Noel: So is bradley
(Liam storms out)
Noel Gallagher has recorded as a guest musician on many bands songs even co-producing an album too. Here is a list of artists he has worked with:
- Paul Weller - I Walk On Gilded Splinters (Dr. John cover) from the album Stanley Road (1995) rhythm guitar
- The Chemical Brothers - Setting Sun from the album Dig Your Own Hole (1996) lead vocals and songwriting
- Goldie - Temper Temper from the album Saturnz Return (1998) Lead guitar
- The Chemical Brothers - Let Forever Be from the album Surrender (1999) Lead vocals and songwriting
- Proud Mary - Co-producer with Gem Archer and musician on the album Same Old Blues (2001)
- The Stands -
- Ian Brown - Keep What You Got from the album Solarized (2005) musician
- Prior to their rise to fame, Noel had often joked to McGee that the whole Rock-and-Roll industry was built around one ambition - to own a chocolate brown Rolls Royce. Following the success of (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, Creation Records held a banquet in to thank the band. Bonehead, Guigsy and White received valuable Rolex watches, to Liam went a solid gold Rolex. Then came Noel, to whom McGee bequeathed the much-desired chocolate brown Rolls Royce. Liam was less than amused, which only fuelled Noel's joy which was not even jaded by the fact the he cannot drive. Noel told Jonathan Ross in an interview in 2003: "I thought it was great because I can't drive and Liam can't tell the time.". Noel sold the car in 2004.
- "I'm equal part genius, equal part buffoon"
- "Rock'n'Roll is about music. Music. Music. Music. It's not about you, it's not about me, it's not about Oasis. It's about the songs"
- "Progression is going forwards. Going backwards is regression. Going sideways is just aggression."
- "We're not arrogant, we just believe we're the best band in the world."
- "I'm not John Lennon. I'm not trying to say anything. I'm just trying to entertain people"
- "Liam's the King of the Lads. Not me. I'm the King of Kings!"
- "It is hard to be modest at times like these so I won't even try...you are all shite!"
- "What, you askin' me if I'm happy? Listen, I've got eighty seven million pounds in the bank. I've got a Rolls Royce. I've got three stalkers. I'm about to go on the board at Manchester City. I'm part of the greatest band in the world. Am I happy with that? No I'm not! I want more!"
- "If I ever get to go to the moon, I'll probably just stand on the moon and go: 'Hmmm, yeah, fair enough, gotta go home now."
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