First album: 1992, phew
❚ RUMOUR CONFIRMED & NOW UPDATED – Thank heavens they had nowt to do with the 80s, though what talent Take That possessed did define Britain’s archetypal squeaky-clean boyband of the 90s . . . Robbie Williams – the youngest of them at 36 – is of course the daddy financially, worth £80m at No 28 in The Sunday Times Rich List of Top 50 Musicians, 2010. Songwriter Gary Barlow, 39, languishes at No 48 on a mere £30m.
Thursday’s Daily Mirror was first to nail the potential rewards. It claimed that a new album, plus merchandise and 50-date tour next summer promoted by their pals at SJM will net £6m apiece for both Williams and Barlow as main songwriters, with £4.2m each to the three dormice, Mark Owen, 38, Jason Orange, 40, and Howard Donald, 42. So it’s trebles all round.
However, by Friday July 16, The Sun’s Bizarre editor Gordon Smart was upping the ante: “If you thought the boys were rich now, next Christmas is going to see them served up with a whole new level of wealth.”
The five men stand to make £15m each from an album deal, arena tour, royalties and other projects which have been lined up. Smart reported in detail: “A music industry expert explained how reformed Take That are set for a mega payday. The band will trouser £5m each from record sales, royalties, TV rights and endorsements – plus another £10m from their tour, which will reach out to a world record 3m people. He said: ‘One sold-out stadium will gross £2m for the band. Costs will swallow £1m per show, but after fifty dates the lads will be left with at least £50m.’ ”
Despite the smiles in pictures and news video this week, the group’s body language is stiff and unconvincing, especially in the sofa shots. Fans have been noting the cursory hugs and lack of eye contact. Orange looks conspicously sidelined. Upmarket papers have done little more than regurgitate the already well-worn publicity guff. Only the tabloids offer any inside info. Although a Sun headline on Thursday claimed Williams is “officially back for good”, there has been no such supporting claim in its extensive live online coverage. On July 16 Smart stated unequivocally: “There are no plans beyond this tour and album.”
THEY SAID IT
Orange on Williams’s departure “When Robbie left I didn’t feel that much. For whatever reason, Robbie and I didn’t get on that well in the band”
Owen on Williams’s departure “I didn’t really think about it that much. I just know that I had two weeks to learn how to rap”
Williams on Barlow’s songwriting “I remember genuinely thinking he’s a genuinely crap songwriter”
Barlow on the success of Williams’s 1997 single Angels “I’ve never laid in bed wishing I was Robbie Williams, but I guess I lay in bed wishing I had his career”
Williams this week described the reunion as like “coming home” from a solo career that has lurched between brilliance and despair. He was speaking at a studio in West London where the new Take That were finishing the as yet unnamed CD, their first full album since the release of Nobody Else in 1995.
First, Barlow and Williams will release a jointly written duet, appropriately called Shame. The video for this song has a Brokeback Mountain theme, according to The Sun. The pair have been inseparable recently, and it pokes fun at the close and cathartic relationship they are said to have rekindled.
All five singers have written songs for the album, due out in November and produced by Stuart Price who is admired for his work with Madonna and Kylie. It is the first time the group has worked together since Williams walked out amid acrimony 15 years ago and went on to launch a successful solo career. The remaining members disbanded a year later but reformed in 2005. Williams went into rehab three years ago battling with addiction. Owen has also admitted to struggling with alcoholism in the past.
The Hit Man and Her: Michaela Strachan and Pete Waterman presented the Saturday night dance show on British TV 1988-1992. Picture © Granada TV
Manchester manager Nigel Martin Smith brought the lads together when most were in their late teens. He hoped to emulate the success of US boyband New Kids On The Block, but only when he added 16-year-old body-popping Robbie Williams from Stoke-on-Trent did the magic kick in.
During their five-year boyband career, Take That produced one of the decade’s bestselling albums in Everything Changes. Between them, Take That and Williams have sold more than 80m albums, played to more than 14.5m people live, won 19 Brit Awards and had 13 No1 albums, 17 No1 singles, eight MTV awards and five Ivor Novello awards.
Take That first sang live as a group 20 years ago on the cringemaking television show The Hit Man and Her which stands today as an authentic slice of provincial social history. Fronted by the now legendary record producer Pete Waterman (him) and TV presenter Michaela Strachan (her), the show was recorded on Saturdays at “a disco somewhere in the North of England” and broadcast early on Sunday mornings in the local Granada region, then again three hours later to the South-East where more liberal licensing laws meant clubbers got home that much later.
Over four years the show became compulsive viewing for its uninhibited antics by crowd members participating in dance-offs and other embarrassing party games. Resident dancers included a black exhibitionist called Clive who habitually wore little more than a blond wig – another was Jason Orange himself, a member of the Manchester-based crew, Street Machine.
➢➢ Take That’s second appearance on the Hit Man and Her in 1990 was this hideously uncoordinated effort at The Discothèque Royale in Manchester, performing Waiting Around which sounds as if it were written for the dreary Rick Astley, yet became the B-side for their first single, Do What U Like. Predictably, their first three singles went nowhere . . .