A scorecard of 7 studio albums and 32 singles with former band Oasis and two critically acclaimed solo albums 'NGHFBs' and 'Chasing Yesterday' in a little bit more than two decades is testament to the sheer depth of Noel Gallagher's songwriting genius. In the day of his 50th birthday, we’re paying tribute to one of the most influential songwriters of the past 25 years with a new playlist of Noel Gallagher and we asked people: journalists, musicians and writers a few questions about Noel Gallagher.
For all those who make KUL BRITANIA and especially for me, Noel Gallagher was, is and will be one of the best songwriters to come out of Britain. I was lucky enough to meet him personally back in 2016 in Buenos Aires and do an interview with him in the capital and visit Carlos Ruiz vintage shop in Buenos Aires in 2016. So for me personally, he is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of Britain's finest and a very humble man who does not forget where he came from.
Noel grew up with siblings Paul 18 months older, and Liam, five years younger in Burnage; a working class neighbourhood in Manchester. Liam and Noel shared the bedroom. In an interview a few years ago, Noel said jokingly he always hated him for that.
As teens Noel and his brothers often got into trouble with the law and at school. But Noel found solace in playing with his father’s guitar which; for some reason, was in the house. Noel never knew exactly why the guitar was there as his father never played. Noel came from an Irish background and he listened to a lot of music when he was little as his father was a DJ.
In 1988 Noel met the guitarist of the Manchester band Inspiral Carpets. They kept in touch, and Noel auditioned to be the lead singer when the previous one left. Inspiral Carpets chose someone else, but Noel ended up working for them as a roadie.
A few years later, Noel called his mum Peggy who revealed to him that Liam had started his own band called The Rain. Noel just couldn`t believe what he'd heard as Liam had never shown any interest in music or at least not as much as Noel had. The gig at Spike Island had inspired Liam to form a band. He joined the band as lead guitarist and songwriter. He said he played lead in Oasis because no one else could play and ... Bonehead was bold which was something unacceptable. Noel began writing all their songs, playing lead guitar and singing.
In 1994 Oasis released its first single, “Supersonic” . Later that year Oasis released their debut album, Definitely Maybe, which climbed to No. 1 in the U.K, becoming the fastest-selling debut album in British history; the rest, as they say, is history.
Someone who knows Noel Gallagher very well as he and his band The Membranes rehearsed next to them during the early days in Manchester is friend of the house, John Robb and we asked John to tell us what NG means to the world music scene and to the British music scene: "Its still weird to think of Oasis getting older!! They still seem like the young bucks...Noel, though, has slipped into middle age with a rare dignity for a rock star. Oasis were perhaps the last gasp of those great British bands from The Beatles, The Stones, The Clash, the Pistols etc - the bands that changed the world. That glorious lineage who picked up guitars and made music on their own terms, they defined the nineties mainstream British pop culture with only Blur coming close but Oasis had the worldwide audience Blur never had, I watched the Oasis film 'Supersonic' the other night and felt a twinge of rare nostalgia and was reminded of just how good they were...when bands get that big they sort of disappear into the background but when you hear the early Oasis all that psychodrama and frustration of growing up in the forgotten UK is captivating and also Noel's melodic prowess- he may not have been an innovator but boy could he write a tune!" .
When asked about his favourite Noel Gallagher song, Robb told us : "So many to choose from - Live Forever is a cut above though - it has a euphoria and melancholy that is so northern at the same time, it also sounds like a perfect anthem and yet still with that underfund roar of noise to it - a perfect combination...". I also wanted to know if John (Robb) knew straight away that they were going to be huge and he said:" I knew Noel from before the Boardwalk rehearsals...he was at every gig in town and so was I - there were a few of us that would check out bands all the time- he calls it the firm or the Manchester 50! Just big music heads...I would chat to him all the time about music and was impressed by his in depth knowledge considering his youth- also his favourite local band was Yargo who are worth checking out as it gives you a very different angle on Noel... To be honest from the start I knew he had something - he was smart and he worked hard, it was a tricky time as Manchester was deemed to be over at the time...but they were always rehearsing - the same riff over and over and that was impressive - the minute I heard Alan McGee was involved I knew they were going to be big - I remember telling Noel that. I also still have the first Oasis demo at home - he gave it to me on Whitworth street...I wrote the second thing about them in the music press - they were one of my tips of the year!" and added "Noel always seemed sure of himself in a cool way - like Ian Brown always did and that Manchester certainty is very Stone Roses. They were ignored for quite a long time though but never seemed worried."
Finally I asked John to define Noel Gallagher in a few words and he said: "Noel has the magic touch of writing songs that connect directly with people, they are powerful and they are emotional in ways that they would never admit and they have brilliant melodies and yet that Pistols wall of sound to get lost in."
According to Paolo Hewitt, who for those who don't know, was very close to the band and was the author of the book 'Getting High', "Noel and Oasis were the symbol of the 90s. The attitude, the style, the hedonism. They bought football, drugs, fashion and a penchant for the 60s into the spotlight." and added on touring with the band "It was fun at first but by the time of the 'Be Here Now' album it was a slog. I always thought they should have split up after Knebworth." Then about the favourite song Noel Gallagher penned, Hewitt chose 'The Masterplan' and said Dublin was the best place where he saw Oasis play live. "The crowd there were amazing and pushed the band to amazing heights." he recalls.
Another person who is close to Noel Gallagher these days because he is a member of his High Flying Birds, is bass player Russ Pritchard who kindly took the time to answer some questions about Noel and when asked what Noel Gallagher meant to him he replied: "So I was born in 79 and so was 14 in '94. I was already massively into music, that being Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other grunge bands. They were great, and I identified with them a bit, but they were from Seattle, and that's miles away from Liverpool. Then Oasis came out, and it changed everything in England. There was a band that were from our country that were being successful and were from the same streets as us. So he meant a great deal to me growing up, in the sense that his band gave me and my friends an identity and a band to believe in from our shores." On working with him, Russ told us: "Working with him now is good. He tends to know what he wants out of the musicians he gathers around him, so that makes life easier for musicians. He's an incredible guitarist, that's what has really struck me since we've played together. He has his own style of playing which is an amazing thing to be around." and added on the best song he wrote:"His best song? For me, it's Live Forever. He's written a lot of great songs, so it's hard to pinpoint one, so for me then it turns into which one affected me the most, and that's this one. The connection it makes with the listener with the lyric "maybe you're the same as me, we see things they'll never see, you and I are gonna live forever"! It's pretty fucking amazing. Great solo too! "
I also asked Stuart Deabill, who today manages The Spitfires and who wrote the book 'Supersonic' together with Ian Snowball, a few things about Noel Gallagher and he revealed what he meant to him and to many others: "I think a lot of us identified with Noel as he came from the same streets as us, wore similar clothes to us, stood on the terraces like us and believed in the power of The Jam, The Beatles and The Sex Pistols music and attitude to change the lives of people like us. I think he’s one of the best songwriters of his generation most definitely. For me it’s not just the songs he’s written but in the manner in how they’re delivered. He has the capacity to show a deftness and sensitivity next to a full on, blow your f#### mind with power, glory and hands in the air moments. Sad Song to Mucky Fingers, Half A World Away to AKA…What A Life. Know what I mean?" . Talking about his most memorable Oasis gig, Stu said: " I saw Oasis a lot in the early days but the one I always think stands out is the gig in the King Tut’s Tent at the first T in the Park up in Scotland. About a month before Definitely Maybe was released and the buzz in the tent was phenomenal. It’s still one of the most exciting performances I’ve seen by any band and the crowd were on board from the moment the band walked on stage. Liam kicked a beach ball the full length of the tent. Any other time it would have hit a tent pole or Bonehead but that tells you all the stars aligned that afternoon. We managed to blag backstage afterwards and get in the band’s dressing room where they were all absolutely buzzing. Noel walked up to me and said “Are You Man U?” “No Chelsea mate” He nodded and walked off. Still the only time our paths have crossed." and summing Noel up in just one word, Stu quickly replied: "Fucking one word? Jesus … Classic."
The Rifles, one of our favourite bands these days, also told our man in Scotland Bazza Mills a few things about Noel Gallagher: "Without Noel Gallagher's songwriting we probably wouldn't be in our band right now" and chose 'Live Forever' as Noel Gallagher's best song and 'Knebworth' as their best gig.
Finally Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene; who supported and toured with Oasis back in the day told Bazza Mills in Scotland: "I guess Noel Gallagher and Oasis undoubtedly opened the door for us because Noel quite likes the Beatles but when we started off we almost had to excuse ourselves for liking The Beatles. It was like they weren't fashionable and then they came along and suddenly the Beatles were cool you know. The song I love and one of my favourite Noel Gallagher songs is the one I do at the end of 'The Circle'; 'Live Forever' and 'Round Our Way' and 'Aquiesce' they have great melodies. They were at the right place at the right time and everyone fell in love with them." On the most memorable gig, Simon Fowler said: "It was when we went out on their first tour and they were just becoming big. I think it was at Newcastle ... yeah at Riverside when Noel got punched in the face."
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Watch Noel Gallagher's best and funniest interviews.
(Special thanks to Bazza Mills; our man in Scotland!)