Noel Gallagher

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Noel Gallagher on stage with
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Noel Gallagher on stage with Oasis

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 famous for their arguments.

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. His outspoken nature and penchant for controversy did as much to publicize Oasis as his younger brother's drunken attacks on the paparazzi.

He has received much critical press for his candid admiration of his own songwriting abilities. However, Gallagher suggests that his bravado is justified by the commercial and critical success of Oasis.

Contents

Biography

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 Police - they allegedly broke into cars and stole bicycles, and at the age of thirteen Noel received six months' probation for robbing a cornershop. 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, Peggy took her three boys and left her husband, Thomas, as he was an alcoholic known for his violent mood swings. Noel has had a strained relationship with his father since, though both he and Liam did work for their father's construction company for a time in the 80s.

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Noel framed by Liam's tambourine

It was whilst working for his father's building company that Noel sustained an injury when a weighty cap from a steel gas pipe landed on his right foot, crushing it. He was forced to work in a storehouse, and, as a result, he found that he had more time to practice guitar and to write songs. Much of the late 1980s found Gallagher unemployed and living in a bedsit splitting his time between drugs, songwriting and guitar playing.

In 1988, Noel auditioned to be vocalist for the band Inspiral Carpets. Although he was turned down, the band hired him 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. In reality, Liam had joined the band in the hope of dragging along Noel so as to gain access to his songs. Noel saw Oasis play at Manchester's Boardwalk and was not particularly complementary of his brothers efforts. When pressed by Liam, he agreed to join the band on the condition that he have complete control of the group, including contributing all the songs. The rest of the band agreed and they began a year of intensive rehearsing.

Perhaps as a result of Noel's arrogant front, Oasis resisted the route of most up-and-coming bands. For example, they never sent a demo to a record company, but rather waited 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 in a 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. McGee signed them on the spot 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?. The album was released to a great deal of commercial success, making it the second fastest selling album in the UK, but received initial critical apathy. However, as the momentum of the album built, and with the help of a very well publicised feud with members of fellow britpop band Blur, it became their "breakthrough" into mainstream commercial success and the album with which they temporarily broke America. Oasis went on to become one of the most popular and successful British acts of the 1990s. Gallagher's extensive catalogue of songs - ironically written in the storehouses and the bedsits which he had so bemoaned in the 80s - were the fuel behind Oasis' success in the 90s. Noel admits having trouble with his songwriting as he suffers from dyslexia making it a difficult task for him. Also in 1995, Gallagher joined his friend Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp to form the Smokin' Mojo Filters. The supergroup, put together by Weller was assembled to record The Beatles' 1969 hit Come Together for the charity album Help!. The band took their name from a lyric in The Beatles' Come Together. He has also worked with the Chemical Brothers, Ian Brown, The Stands, The Prodigy and Paul Weller amongst others.

Gallagher is a keen fan of music and has had a hand in pushing the careers of many new bands including Coldplay, Travis and The Zutons. Amid much criticism towards Be Here Now, Richard Ashcroft, for whom the song Cast No Shadow was written, whilst accepting an award, stated "at the end of the day, Noel Gallagher opened our eyes; for a lot of young people in the North West, to pick up a guitar." Oasis are also attributed with helping to resurrect stadium rock and roll concerts in England, most noticeably their record breaking summer shows at Knebworth in August 1996.

He married girlfriend Meg Mathews in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 5th, 1997 and shortly afterwards the third Oasis album, Be Here Now, was released on 21 August. Following the worldwide success of Morning Glory, it became their most eagerly anticipated album to date. As with the previous two albums, all the tracks were written by Noel. However, whilst in 1997 it was a commercial and critical success, when the dust settled and the hype died down, it was seen as a bloated, over indulgent version of Oasis, which Noel has had trouble living down. He claims the album suffered due to his own bloated, drug addicted state. Around this time, Noel began to suffer panic attacks. He tackled this on the 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants with the song Gas Panic, which reveals his lonely, paranoid state.

After the critical panning of Be Here Now, the hype surrounding Oasis quickly faded. In 1997, Noel was criticised for joining new Labour PM Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street for a high profile media party, which seemed to go against the Working Class Hero cause which he championed with songs like 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 three 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, shortly afterwards in January 2001 Gallagher and Mathews were divorced. The announcement followed Liam's 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 succesful song - was written for Mathews, and, perhaps as a result, the band have played it less and less since the divorce. He has entered a long-term relationship with Sara MacDonald.

Recruiting 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 good move on Noel's part and in 2002 Heathen Chemistry was more positively received than their previous two efforts.

Public persona

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Noel in a trademark pose.

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" [1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/showbiz/1324838.stm)

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 mockingly make 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 bears more than a passing resemblance to the film 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.

Songwriting

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Noel provided lead vocals at Oasis' MTV Unplugged session in London.

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 a tender melody 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."

Brotherly love

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Noel with brother Liam in a moment of calm.

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, with 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

An excerpt of the argument released on the Wibbling Rivalry single:

Noel: Do you know John Lennon?
Liam: Yeah.
Noel: Well, you must be pretty old.
      How old are you? 21?
Liam: No. About fuckin' thousand and five.
Noel: You're 22, and I watched you being born, 
      so shut the fuck up about 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

Noel: Liam's more paranoid. He thinks the 
      World's against him.

Liam: Yeah, yeah, and he's full of shit because
      I don't think that at all. Take that back. 
      He knows he's a genius, but he won't admit it.

Noel: I will admit it. I'm a fucking genius.

Liam: No, you're not! I inspire him more than 
      he inspires me. Bottles of lager inspires me (sic).

Noel: That goes without saying... I'll be Lord 
      Mayor of London by the next six months.

Lamacq: And what will you do?

Liam: Fart in people's mouths.

(Liam storms out)

Trivia

  • 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 sold the car in 2004.
  • Nicknamed 'The Chief'

Quotes

  • "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!"

See also

References

  • Wheeler,J: Oasis: How Does It Feel? (UFO Books Ltd)
  • Paul Gallagher and Terry Christian: Brothers, From Childhood to Oasis (Virgin Books)
  • Middles, M: Oasis: Round Their Way (Independent Music Press)
  • Paolo Hewitt, Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis (Boxtree Press)
  • Robertson, I: Oasis: What's The Story? (Blake Books)
  • Moody, P: Oasis: Lost Inside (UFO Music Ltd)
  • Various interviews with Noel (http://www.oa515.com/interviews.htm)

External links

es:Noel Gallagher fr:Noel Gallagher it:Noel Gallagher ja:ノエル・ギャラガー pt:Noel Gallagher fi:Noel Gallagher

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