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Monday, June 01, 2009
Bonehead: The first time Noel Gallagher played Champagne Supernova on the tour bus, I cried.
The ones that got away.
What makes someone walk out on their bandmates at the very height of their success? Dave Simpson talks to four musicians who turned their backs on money and fame.
From Reginald Perrin leaving his clothes on the beach to Ken Barlow's recent is-he-or-isn't-he-leaving cliffhanger in Coronation Street, the grand exit plays a large part in our culture. But in pop music, while people regularly leave bands, very few walk out on an extremely famous group at its peak. Why would you?
There are, of course, some honourable exceptions. Brian Eno quit Roxy Music in 1973 after catching himself thinking about his laundry on stage. Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor left the band in 1974 in a dispute over songwriting credits. And Robbie Williams quit Take That in 1995 after the band confronted him about his drug abuse and attitude - although he went on to a mega-successful solo career, as did Peter Gabriel when he left Genesis.
But what other pressures would lead a musician to jump ship from a supergroup? How do the rest of the band take the news? And the big question: once you've left, what do you do with the rest of your life? We talked to four artists who bailed out when the going was good.
'My daughter was two days old and I was jumping on a plane'
Paul Arthurs, aka 'Bonehead'
Guitarist, Oasis, 1991-1999
Arthurs is one of five people who know what it's like to perform on stage at the biggest concert in British history: 250,000 people over two nights at Knebworth in 1996 (there were a record 2.5m ticket applications). He walked away just three years later.
I formed Oasis [as Rain] with a couple of mates. Liam [Gallagher] came in, we changed the name, then Noel - and the rest is history. The first songs Noel played us were Live Forever and All Around the World. The first time he played Champagne Supernova on the tour bus, I cried.
Oasis was like a steam train. We went from playing the Duchess of York in Leeds, in front of two people who argued over a kebab and stormed out, to playing our first arenas. I remember Liam sat in the seats at the opposite end, shouting, "How are we going to fill this?"
It was the best job in the world, but by the time we recorded Standing on the Shoulder of Giants [in 1999], it wasn't enjoyable. My daughter was two days old and I was jumping on a flight. We'd made our money. We had big cars. We were renting out Christian Dior's mansion in the south of France. That should have been a fun time, but it wasn't. Liam was on a drinking ban and I wasn't helping by not sticking to it. Noel had his own problems, maybe.
I wasn't feeling it any more. I would have been lying to the band and the fans. There were a lot of frantic phone calls and visits, but I'd made my mind up. I always thought we should have bowed out after the second night at Knebworth. Walking out on that stage is a feeling I can't explain: a sea of people. Big!
Afterwards, there was a void. You don't jump off a ride like that and stay the same person. It took me two years to get back to who I was - where you don't think you need to ring up management to ask for a car to get somewhere.
I made a more-than-tidy pile, but recently I've started playing again in a band called the Vortex. I feel the way I did in 1992. When I was in Oasis, I used to wonder what it would be like to be in the crowd, watching. Last year, I got on the guest list for an Oasis gig in Birmingham. It was exciting, but strange. I'd never rejoin them - not that I'd be asked. But for one gig? Absolutely. I still know the chords to Rock'n'Roll Star.
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via L4e / theguardian.co.uk
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