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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 17:23 GMT
Steps fans slam group
Steps
Steps fans have complained on their website
Pop group Steps are facing a backlash from fans after announcing they are to split up.

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 arena shows, 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

Originally written-off as a line-dancing novelty group after their debut in 1997, they were steered to chart success by producer Pete Waterman.

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

The group said they wanted to pursue solo careers - but fans have contacted their official website to express their anger at the split.


Maybe my dad was right - you only did it for the money

Steps fan on the group's website

'New challenges'

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.

"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
Steps enjoyed 12 consecutive Top Five hits

But some of those fans are not impressed - according to comments posted on www.stepsofficial.com during Thursday.

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

'They have lied'

One, "Heartbroken 4H" wrote: "They have lied to us for months and it really hurts because I thought they were all genuine, down to earth people who had respect for their fans and appreciated us as much as we appreciated them."

Another, "Stepsfan70", added: "Maybe my dad was right who has hated you since day one - you only did it for the money."

stepsofficial.com
Fans' comments on the site
Another comment read: "How many other parents like me spent a small fortune of Steps tickets and memorabilia for Christmas presents this year?

"One day later they announce they are splitting up. This band has marketed themselves as a goody two shoes band, who love their fans. Well they are now shown up for what they really are - just another money grabbing pop group."

Other messages backed the group, such as one from "betterthedevil" posted on Friday which read: "Loads and loads of good luck to the Stepsters in their solo projects and we all hope to see them soon back in the top five where they belong!"

'Sobbing'

Others contacted BBC News Online, which received hundreds of e-mails on Thursday and Friday.

"The timing of the anouncement was appalling," wrote John Reynolds.


They were truly devoted to their jobs, and their fans

Nicki, England
"Our seven-year old daughter spent Boxing Day evening sobbing. Before Christmas we went to the Steps concert and bought presents of books, CDs, t-shirts and calendars as presents for our daughters. The timing smacks of greed and cynicism."

Again, others backed Steps. Nicki in England wrote: "They were truly devoted to their jobs, and contrary to popular belief, their fans.

"I had the pleasure of meeting the band a few times this year, and they have always seemed very grateful for our support."

'Re-charge batteries'

Zomba Records spokeswoman Arlene Moon said on Thursday: "They were all having January off before the split so they are just going to take time off and re-charge their batteries before embarking on any major projects.

"No one has yet made any decisions about what they are going to do now - they are just taking time out."

She added that the group feared criticism from fans would be "inevitable", and their management would study their complaints.

A message posted on the group's website late on Thursday said the decision to split had been "only made very recently".


Click here to read some of the hundreds of e-mails BBC News Online received from Steps fans - and Steps haters.


Vote for your favourite Steps song on CBBC Newsround OnlineStep back!
Vote for your favourite Steps song on CBBC
 VOTE RESULTS
Steps breaking up - what do you think?

Tragedy!
 83.15% 

Trivial
 16.85% 

178 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

27 Dec 01 | Music
Steps split: Is it a Tragedy?
27 Dec 01 | Music
Stepping up to stardom
26 Dec 01 | Music
End of the road for Steps
24 Dec 01 | Music
Chart stars and flops of 2001
02 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Steps rocket in at...No 72
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