Oasis distinguished themselves during their heyday in the 90s. Unlike the many grunge rockers around them, Oasis were celebrated as classic rock stars. It may not be the most popular form of rock at the time, but they made it cool again. Also, instead of drawing inspiration from punk and metal, the British group was influenced by bands like the Beatles.
Formed in 1991, Oasis originally consisted of lead vocalist Liam Gallagher, guitarist Paul Arthurs, bassist Paul McGuigan, and drummer Tony McCarroll. During the band’s career, they had several lineup changes, although the Gallagher brothers stayed until the group’s disbanding.
Formation and Early History
Oasis evolved from an earlier group named Rain, composed of Paul McGuigan, Tony McCarroll, and Paul Arthurs. Liam Gallagher was recruited as a replacement vocalist for Chris Hutton. It was Liam who suggested that the band name be changed to Oasis, as inspired by an Inspiral Carpets tour poster in the Gallagher brother’s bedroom.
Oasis performed its first gig in 1991 in Manchester. Liam’s brother, Noel Gallagher was a roadie who went with a band to watch his brother’s band play. Even though Noel and his friends did not think Oasis was spectacular, he saw an opportunity to use his brother’s band as a potential outlet for the songs he has written throughout the years. Noel approached the group about joining with the condition that he will become the band’s leader and songwriter and that the band would commit to pursuing commercial success. Under Noel’s leadership, Oasis crafted a musical approach that relied on simplicity, creating a sound that was devoid of complexity and came out sounding unstoppable.
Breakthrough and International Success
The group was definitely superstars from the start. Their first album, Definitely Maybe, was released in 1994 and was a massive success in the UK. It entered the charts at #1 within the first week of release and became the fastest-selling debut album in the UK. Its first single “Supersonic” reached #31 in the charts. “Live Forever” was their first work to enter the top 10 of the UK charts. It wasn’t successful in the US, but it established the band as superstars during a time when popular rock groups were more dour and introspective.
Nearly a year of constant recordings and live performances, the hedonistic lifestyle and tight schedule took a toll on the band. This problem culminated during a gig in Los Angeles in 1994 that led to an inept performance by Liam during which he made offensive comments about American audiences. Liam also hit Noel with a tambourine, which upset Noel to the extent that he temporarily quit the band. Eventually, the brothers reconciled, and the tour resumed in Minneapolis.
Oasis had their first #1 single in the UK in 1995, entitled “Some Might Say.” At that time, McCarroll was ousted from the band and was replaced by Alan White as a drummer.
That same year, Oasis released their second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. It was a worldwide commercial success that sold more than four million copies in the UK. This album built on its predecessor’s melodic power, producing hits like “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” that captured the American audience. The album also contained a non-UK single “Champagne Supernova” that received critical acclaim, reaching the #1 spot on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.
Decline and Lineup Change
As a response to the pop-influenced (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the band made sure that the next album was bigger. However, quarrels between the Gallagher brothers weighed down the recording sessions, giving the brothers reputation for tabloid scandals. In August 1997, Be Here Now was released. The album quickly became the fastest-selling album in British history after selling 424,000 units by the end of the first day of release. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 in the US, but its first week of sales in the US was considered a disappointment. By that time, Britpop was declining, and the band failed to meet expectations.
In early 1999, when the band began working on their fourth studio album, things were not going well with the band. Arthurs decided to leave, and two weeks later, after announcing Arthurs’ departure, McGuigan’s departure was announced. The band was left with a trio, with only the Gallaghers and Alan White. The trio managed to re-record their former bandmates’ parts to complete the album.
After finishing the recording, the band hired new lead guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell. Archer was formerly from Heavy Stereo, while Bell was a former guitarist of Ride and Hurricane #1. Bell had never played bass before and had to learn it to prepare for Oasis’ scheduled tour in December 1999.
In 2000, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants was released, reaching #1 on the British charts after the first week. The songs featured a more experimental, psychedelic influences. However, it barely made a blip with American radio, and it received lukewarm reviews from critics. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants also became the band’s lowest-selling studio album.
2000s Career up to Disbandment
Oasis soldiered on and split their time between recording sessions for the fifth studio album and live concerts around the world. In 2002, Oasis released Heathen Chemistry, the band’s first album with new members Bell and Archer. Heathen Chemistry reached #1 in the UK and #23 in the US. The album represented a more straightforward rock style, and it included songwriting contributions by Bell, Archer, and Liam.
The tour that supported the album was successful, yet filled with incidents. While the band was on tour in the US during the late summer of 2002, they were involved in a car accident in Indianapolis. None sustained major injuries, but it canceled some shows as a result. In December 2002, the latter half of the German leg of Oasis’s European tour had to be postponed after the band members were arrested for their involvement on a violent brawl at a Munich nightclub.
Oasis’ sixth studio album was originally planned for a September 2004 release to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Definitely Maybe. However, Alan White quit the band in early 2004. Eventually, he was replaced by Zak Starkey, son of the Beatles’ Ringo Starr and drummer of The Who. In May 2005, after many scrapped recording sessions, the band released Don’t Believe the Truth. It was another collaborative project, also marking the recording debut of Starkey. The album spawned two #1 UK singles: “The Importance of Being Idle” and “Lyla.” Don’t Believe the Truth also reached the #1 spot at the UK album charts. The tour supporting the album passed without major incidents, making it the band’s most successful tour in more than a decade. The band experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the success of the album.
In 2006, the band released a compilation album Stop the Clocks to feature the band’s definitive songs. The year after, Oasis released a rockumentary film entitled Lord Don’t Slow Me Down. The song of the same title debuted at #10 in the UK singles chart.
In 2008, Oasis launched its seventh studio album, Dig Out Your Soul. It peaked at #1 in the UK charts and #5 on the Billboard 200.
Zak Starley left the band after the completion of the album recording and was replaced by former Icicle Works drummer Chris Sharrock.
Liam contracted laryngitis in 2009, and the band had to cancel a gig as a result. Liam sued Noel and demanded an apology. Noel did so, and the lawsuit was dropped. Their concert in Paris was canceled just minutes before it was about to begin, and the manager stated that the group does not exist anymore.
Two hours later, Noel announced that he was quitting the band, saying that he could not work with his brother any longer. Fans were shocked, while some thought that this was just another episode of the Gallagher brothers’ feud and that Noel and Liam would reconcile eventually.
However, the split felt more permanent when Noel formed a band in 2010, while Liam and the remaining Oasis members started their own group in 2009. Noel’s band High Flying Birds remain active, while Liam’s band Beady Eye disbanded in 2014. Archer and Sharrock became members of Noel’s band after the disbandment of Beady Eye, while Arthurs occasionally joined Liam on his tours on his solo music career.
Despite splitting up in 2009, Oasis remains a significant influence in British music and culture. They are considered as the biggest and the most acclaimed bands in the world. Here are some of their best creations:
- Champagne Supernova (1995)
- Wonderwall (1995)
- Live Forever (1994)
- Supersonic (1994)
- Cigarettes and Alcohol (1994)
- Slide Away (1994)
- Don’t Look Back in Anger (1995)
- Talk Tonight (1995)
- The Masterplan (1995)
- Acquiesce (1995)
- Lyla (2004)
- The Importance of Being Idle (2004)
- Let There Be Love (2004)
- Gas Panic! (2000)
- Underneath the Sky (1995)