On the Road Again; Why Would ROBBIE WILLIAMS Give Away His Greatest Hits to Irish Mail on Sunday Readers for Free? Louise Gannon, Who Has Known and Worked with Robbie since He Was 16, Explains Why He's Ripping Up the Industry Rule Book Yet Again

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 4, 2009 | Go to article overview

On the Road Again; Why Would ROBBIE WILLIAMS Give Away His Greatest Hits to Irish Mail on Sunday Readers for Free? Louise Gannon, Who Has Known and Worked with Robbie since He Was 16, Explains Why He's Ripping Up the Industry Rule Book Yet Again


Byline: ROBBIE WILLIAMS

the first time I met Robbie Williams was in the back of a second-hand Transit van parked outside a school playground in Rotherham in Yorkshire. It was 1990. Williams was 16 years old and, with his asyet-unknown band, Take That, was touring around junior schools, performing in lunch breaks in school halls to slightly mystified pre-teens. It was hardly rock 'n' roll.

Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange were a strange mix of shy, polite, awkward and over-eager boys waiting to be told what to do and say by their then manager, the mercurial Mancunian Nigel Martin-Smith. Gary was keen to talk about the music. Mark, the budding diplomat, did a lot of nodding and grinning. Howard and Jason struggled to think of anything to do or say, clearly unsure whether next week would bring a breaktime performance in Hull or a trip down to the local dole office.

But it was Robbie, the baby of the band, who instinctively understood how to handle the situation. Buzzing on the thrill of speaking into a tape recorder (he wanted it played back to hear his voice on tape), he swaggered, pulled faces, made jokes, came out with the (what then seemed) completely ridiculous statement that 'we're going to be the biggest band in Britain' - and effortlessly dominated the situation.

When it came to photographs, the Stoke-on-Trentborn son of a pub entertainer insisted on climbing on top of a wall to jump into the path of the lens, screaming his head off as he fell. In the bland suburban surroundings of a northern English primary school, in a totally unknown band, Robbie was the showman, the natural-born rock star.

And then it happened, as Robbie predicted. Take That became not just the biggest band in Britain, but the biggest band in Europe.

Over another half decade of interviews in flash hotel rooms throughout Europe, I saw him go from being thrilled at his fame to being trapped by the constraints of it. The Robbie Williams from the playground in Rotherham was always a too large a character for a boy band.

Initially he didn't bother trying to hide his pleasure in being famous. In 1992, bolted into a London hotel room, safe from the adoring mob in the street outside, he told me: 'I love it. I love the fans. I love the screaming. At concerts you can't even hear us singing for the screaming. It's wicked. There's absolutely nothing I don't like about it. I'm never going to complain about any of it. It's all great.' Two-and-a-half years later in Frankfurt, it was a different story. 'I want to do my own thing, my own music, hear my own voice,' he said. 'I want this [fame] but I don't want it like this. I don't want to be a pop star. I want to be a rock star. No one takes pop stars seriously.' It was that realisation that brought about some of the music scene's most brilliant, memorable tracks - the ones, indeed, that every Irish Mail On Sunday reader will be getting on a free CD in each copy of next week's issue. Robbie decided the surefire way to gatecrash his way into rock credibility was to turn the whole squeaky-clean boy-band image on its head. He announced his departure from Take That by appearing alongside the rock nemesis of all boy bands, Oasis at Glastonbury in 1995.

The reinvention of Robbie Williams was about to start. Drawing on an eclectic selection of idols ('Who do I like? Loads of people. Tom Jones. David Bowie. Frank Sinatra...') Robbie immersed himself in the business of becoming a solo artist. He moved to Los Angeles, hooked up with songwriter Guy Chambers and produced some of the biggest hits of the decade from Angels to Come Undone, Let Me Entertain You and Rock DJ (all of which are on the IMOS album).

And as a live performer, he was untouchable; effortlessly able to play his audience. 'My best performances of songs are live,' he said in 1997. 'There's something about singing in front of thousands of people that just takes it to the next level. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Road Again; Why Would ROBBIE WILLIAMS Give Away His Greatest Hits to Irish Mail on Sunday Readers for Free? Louise Gannon, Who Has Known and Worked with Robbie since He Was 16, Explains Why He's Ripping Up the Industry Rule Book Yet Again
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.