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Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK


What's the story so far?

Liam Gallagher: How long can the Oasis success story continue?

It is five years since Oasis' Definitely Maybe became the UK's fastest-selling debut album ever - and the Manchester five-piece changed the sound of the decade's pop music almost overnight.

After years of dance music, plastic pop and electronic beats dominating the charts, Liam and Noel Gallagher made it fashionable to be in a guitar band again.

Yet while Liam and Noel have become the public focus of the band, they had nothing to do with its origins in Burnage, Manchester, in 1991.

Rain - named after a Beatles B-side - were formed by Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan, guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, drummer Tony McCarroll and singer Chris Hutton.

[ image: Alan McGee: Signed Oasis in a Glasgow club]
Alan McGee: Signed Oasis in a Glasgow club
Hutton was sacked early on and replaced with Liam Gallagher, who suggested the name Oasis after a venue he had seen on a tour poster for the Inspiral Carpets - the cult Oldham band his older brother Noel was a roadie for.

Noel saw Oasis' first gig at Manchester's Boardwalk in August 1991, and Liam asked him to manage them. Instead, he joined the band, and took over as lead guitarist and songwriter.

By 1993 the group had gained a reputation for their rowdy gigs, and Alan McGee - founder of indie label Creation Records - was so impressed by what he saw at a concert in Glasgow he signed them on the spot.

Immediately, the music press fell in love with the band - the ferocious rows Liam and Noel Gallagher had in front of journalists always made good copy - a world away from the navel-gazing attitude of most indie bands at the time.

[ image: Tony McCarroll was fired in 1995]
Tony McCarroll was fired in 1995
One journalist even recorded a row and released it as a single himself when the band made it big.

1994 saw round-the-block queues at venues across the UK as word spread about the band - their debut single Supersonic barely grazed the Top 40 at number 31, but follow-up Shakermaker made number 11 and third single Live Forever got to number 10, just before Definitely Maybe took the album chart by storm.

But the band's volatile nature continued to show - they began their first US tour in September 1994, where Noel Gallagher almost quit the band.

An audacious attempt at the Christmas number one in 1994 saw them reach number three with the Beatles-inspired Whatever, just after Liam's voice gave up during a gig in Glasgow, sparking a riot.

Tony McCarroll was fired in 1995 and replaced by Londoner Alan White just before the band hit the headlines for their tabloid battle with Blur.

[ image: Noel Gallagher walked out of the band in 1996 while on a US tour]
Noel Gallagher walked out of the band in 1996 while on a US tour
Both Oasis' single Roll With It and Blur's Country House were scheduled to be released on 14 August, and the media could not get enough of the rivalry between the bands.

Blur got to number one - but Oasis' second album (What's The Story) Morning Glory far outsold its rival, and stayed in the album charts for two years.

The single Wonderwall became an anthem and a hit in the US and their status as Britain's biggest band was confirmed. Their success was sealed when they played to 210,000 people over two nights at Knebworth.

But then, for many, the rot started to set in. Liam's relationship with actress Patsy Kensit made him a fixture of the tabloids, and he walked out of the recording of an MTV Unplugged concert in London, leaving Noel to sing. Then Noel walked out of the band while they were on a US tour.

In 1997 their third album, Be Here Now, sold a record-breaking 696,000 copies in its first week. It got rave reviews, but the press quickly became more cynical about the group and the massive hype that had surrounded the record.

[ image: Be Here Now failed to live up to the massive hype]
Be Here Now failed to live up to the massive hype
In October 1997 Liam and Noel Gallagher again hit the headlines when they appeared on BBC Radio 1's Evening Session. Liam turned the airwaves blue while Noel admitted he thought Be Here Now had been overhyped and he didn't think it was very good.

Liam was also arrested in London's West End with cocaine in his possession after an awards ceremony.

Two years on, Liam and Noel are both married and their wives are expecting children.

A new album and world tour is expected next year - but two key members of the group have decided to opt out of the inevitable spotlight.

Liam cockily swaggered into Wednesday's press conference, and entertained reporters with a string of ribald jokes. But Noel was quieter.

He has worked with dance act the Chemical Brothers, and is also playing drums for a friend's band, Tailgunner.

The future of Oasis is likely to rest on him, and whether the decade's most successful songwriter still finds any excitement in the band he saved from obscurity.

Can Oasis survive the loss of their founder members? Click here to read your comments.

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