As the most popular teen pop sensation in Britain since the '60s, Take That ruled the U.K. charts during the first half of the '90s.
Take That remained one of the most interesting and popular British teen pop phenomena not only of the '90s, but of the rock & roll era. Gary Barlow (born January 20, 1971) was always the central figure of Take That. As the lead vocalist and songwriter for the band, he determined its musical direction.
As a child, Barlow was already a gifted musician and, by the age of 14, he was playing organ in Ken Dodd's supporting band. One of Barlow's first songs, "Let's Pray for Christmas," was a finalist in an original Christmas song competition on the BBC television show Pebble Mill.
In his late teens, he came in contact with Mark Owen (born January 27, 1974) and Robbie Williams (born February 13, 1974), two other young musicians who came from middle-class backgrounds. Williams' father was a comedian and his mother was a singer; before the formation of Take That, he had briefly appeared in the British soap opera Brookside. Owen had previously auditioned and failed for the football team Manchester United. The trio formed the Cutest Rush, which had a short-lived career.
Take That released their debut single, "Do What U Like," on their independent Dance U.K. label in July of 1991.
The band didn't break into the big time until that summer, when its cover of Tavares' "It Only Takes a Minute" reached number seven. Following the single's success, Take That became a British media sensation, which set the stage for the group's debut, Take That and Party, to land a chart position of number five upon its release in the fall. Within a month, the single "A Million Love Songs" reached the Top Ten.
Throughout the end of 1993 and 1994, Everything Changes yielded hit singles, with the majority of the releases making their way to number one. Though it was a huge success in the U.K., Canada, and Europe, the album was never released in the United States.
During the summer of 1995, it became evident that he was getting ready to break away from Take That. Williams began tagging along after Oasis, who were notorious for their drug and alcohol intake. He became the target of a number of tabloid reports about his bad behavior, and he began bragging to the weekly music press that he was working on solo material that sounded like Oasis.
Since all the members of Take That were young men in their mid-twenties, searching for their own identities and desperate to retain credibility, they were beginning to feel uncomfortable with the shiny, polished pop that their group had trademarked -- all of the members, that is, except Gary Barlow, who had decided that he was the heir to the throne Elton John and George Michael once held.