Elvis Lives


Oasis shot from obscurity to stardom in 1994, become one of Britain's most popular and critically acclaimed bands of the decade; along with Blur and Suede, they are responsible for returning British guitar-pop to the top of the charts. Led by guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher, the Manchester quintet adopts the rough, thuggish image of the Stones and the Who, crosses it with Beatlesque melodies and hooks, distinctly British lyrical themes and song structures like the Jam and the Kinks, and ties it all together with a massive, loud guitar roar, as well as a defiant sneer that draws equally from the Sex Pistols' rebelliousness and the Stone Roses' cocksure arrogance. Gallagher's songs frequently rework previous hits from T. Rex ("Cigarettes and Alcohol" borrows the riff from "Bang a Gong") to Wham! ("Fade Away" takes the melody from "Freedom"), yet the group always puts the hooks in different settings, updating past hits for a new era.

Originally, the group was formed by school mates Liam Gallagher (vocals), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (guitar), Paul McGuigan (bass), and Tony McCaroll (drums). After spending several years as the guitar technician for the Stone Roses-inspired group the Inspiral Carpets, Noel Gallagher returned to Manchester to find that his brother had formed a band. Noel agreed to join the band if he could have complete control of the group, including contributing all the songs; the rest of the band agreed and under the new name Oasis, they began a year of intensive rehearsing.

After playing a handful of small club gigs, the band cornered Alan McGee, the head of Creation Records, and forced him to listen to their demo. Impressed, he signed the band. The group released their first single, "Supersonic," in the spring of 1994; it edged its way into the charts on the back of positive reviews. With a melody adapted from "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," "Shakermaker" became a bigger hit in the early summer. Released a month before their debut album, the soaring ballad "Live Forever" became a major hit in England. The group's first record, Definitely Maybe, became the fastest-selling debut in British history, entering the charts at number one. Oasis mania continued throughout 1994, as the group began playing larger theaters and each new single outperformed the last. However, tensions in the group began to build -- Liam and Noel refused to do joint interviews because they always fought -- and Noel Gallagher briefly left the band at the end of a difficult fall American tour; he soon rejoined and the band headed back to England. As "Supersonic" began to climb the U.S. album rock and modern rock charts, the non-LP, string-laden "Whatever" hit number two over the British Christmas season.

At the beginning of 1995, the group concentrated on America, promoting the single "Live Forever." The song became a major hit on MTV, album rock, and modern rock radio stations, peaking at number two and Definitely Maybe went gold in the U.S. Returning to England after a sold-out American tour, the group recorded a new single, "Some Might Say." On the eve of its release, drummer Tony McCaroll parted ways with the band, with Alan White taking his place. "Some Might Say" entered the charts at number one upon its May release; its success led to all of their previous singles re-entering the indie charts. Oasis spent the rest of the summer completing their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, which was released in October of 1995. Upon its release, the album shot to number one in England, becoming the fastest-selling in the U.K. since Michael Jackson's Bad.

Over the course of 1996, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? became the second-biggest British album in history, as Oasis became international phenomenons. On the strength of the single "Wonderwall," Morning Glory became a Top 10 success in America, eventually being certified quintuple platinum; it also reached the Top 10 throughout Europe and Asia. During 1996, the Gallaghers' combative relationship frequently made newspapers and gossip columns, particularly when they suddenly pulled out of their late summer US tour, which followed the group's two concerts at Knebworth, which broke records for being the biggest outdoor concert in England. After Oasis abandoned their American tour, they concentrated on recording their third album. Where their first two albums were quickly recorded, they took several months to record the third, finally completing the album in the spring of 1997. The album, Be Here Now, was released in late August, with the single "D'You Know What I Mean" preceding the full-length record in July. A collection of B-sides, Masterplan, followed in 1998.

As the band was recording their fourth album in the summer of 1999, Bonehead left Oasis, claiming that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Interviewed by NME on August 11, the day after the parting was made public, Noel Gallagher seemed nonplussed: "It's hardly Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles."



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