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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 19:51 GMT
End of the road for Steps
Steps
The band were produced by Pete Waterman
Pop group Steps have split up so they can all pursue solo careers.

The five-member group, who sold more than 12 million records in five years, announced their decision on Boxing Day.

The act, who sold out 120 UK arenas, were recently presented with a commemorative disc by Sir Tim Rice to celebrate their entry into the top 100 acts of all time.

Their hits included Tragedy, Love's Got A Hold On My Heart, Better Best Forgotten, One For Sorrow, Chain Reaction and Better the Devil You Know.

We have always said that when the time came, we would leave as good friends and go out while we were on top

Steps, joint statement

Steps will be best remembered for their dance steps, bubbly image and Abba-style melodies.

They were initially written off as a line-dancing, novelty act.

But their success was a tribute to the skills of producer Pete Waterman, who helped to establish them as one of the UK's most successful pop groups.

Best live act

In a joint statement, Faye Tozer, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott Lee, H - real name Ian Watkins - and Lee Latchford-Evans said: "After five incredible years, we have decided it's time to move on to new challenges.

"We have always said that when the time came, we would leave as good friends and go out while we were on top, as although we are very sad, that's what we have done.
Steps to Success
Single Tragedy sold 1.2 million
Greatest hits album Gold entered charts at No One
12 consecutive singles in Top Five
Total 12 million records sold
120 UK arenas sold out

"We are looking forward to making our next plans but for now we just want to send our heartfelt thanks and love to all the people who have supported us - you truly are the best fans in the world."

Steps were created following an advert in The Stage entertainment magazine in 1997, chosen from thousands of wannabe stars.

The successful applicants were Richards, who comes from north London, Tozer, who hails from Northampton, Latchford-Evans, who is from Chester, Watkins, from Rhondda in south Wales and Scott Lee, who is from St Asaph in north Wales.

They appeared together at the weekend on a celebrity version of the BBC game show, Friends Like These.

Steps
Steps enjoyed 12 consecutive Top Five hits

Their run of 12 consecutive singles in the top five has only been bettered by The Beatles.

They picked up three prizes at this month's Smash Hits Awards including Best Live Act and a prestigious Hall of Fame trophy.

The announcement brings to an end weeks of speculation about the group's future.

Earlier in the year, they issued a statement insisting they had no plans to call it a day.

See also:

24 Dec 01 | Music
Chart stars and flops of 2001
09 Dec 01 | Music
Smash Hits award winners
30 Nov 01 | Music
TOTP Awards: The winners
28 Feb 00 | Wales
Boy band's Steps to stardom
02 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Steps rocket in at...No 72
23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Steps 'Stomp' to the top
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