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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 15:32 GMT
Profile: Robbie Williams
By Fiona Pryor
BBC News entertainment reporter

Robbie Williams
Williams played three days at Knebworth during his tour in 2003
The former Take That star and successful solo artist, Robbie Williams has once again been admitted to rehab, for dependency on prescription drugs.

After leaving Take That in 1995, the 33-year-old embarked on a heavy drink and drugs lifestyle, which led to veteran pop-star Elton John "kidnapping" him and forcing him into rehab.

In 2004, Williams admitted he had given up drugs and alcohol because they had made him "too fat".

Many critics wrote him off after he left Take That, as few solo artists had found success after leaving a popular band.

But with 25 solo UK top 10 singles - including six number ones, eight number one albums, 15 Brit Awards and three Ivor Novello awards, Williams proved them wrong.

Epic ballad

Success did not come easily at first. His first singles and debut album brought only modest success by Take That's chart-topping standards.

Then, just before Christmas 1997, his epic ballad Angels became the anthem for a generation. Soon his first solo album Life Thru A Lens hit number one - six months after being released.

The summer of 1998 bought with it one of the most defining moments of the year for the star.

A mass sing-along of Angels at the Glastonbury festival drew the biggest crowd ever to have gathered in front of the Pyramid Stage.

Take That
Williams, second from right, joined Take That when he was 16

His next single, Millennium, gave Williams his first number one. A month later his second album, I've Been Expecting You followed it to the top of the charts.

In January 1999 Williams became the first act for seven years to have two albums in the top 10 at the same time.

Public feud

If at any point his musical career failed to make headlines, his personal life certainly did not.

His on-going feud with Oasis star Liam Gallagher kept him firmly in the spotlight, as well as his engagement to former All Saints singer Nicole Appleton.

Rumours about his involvement with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell followed him around, and he later started dating model Rachel Hunter.

I panned this track, branding it the worst record in history
Victoria Newton's review of the single Rudebox in The Sun

Christmas 2001 was another musical high point, with three releases topping three different UK charts.

His album Swing When You're Winning had been seen as a gamble. Nobody knew how the public would take to an album of cover versions of old Rat Pack and big band tunes.

But it shot to the top of the charts and stayed there.

He also enjoyed a Christmas number one single with his duet with actress Nicole Kidman, Somethin' Stupid.

Record deal

In 2002, Williams signed a record deal with the British music giant EMI for an astounding 80m.

Robbie Williams and Geri Halliwell
Williams was rumoured to be dating ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell

However, the immense publicity and support Williams had in the UK failed to help him break the American market.

He returned with a bang in the summer of 2003, with a world tour which played to 1.3 million fans, including three days at Knebworth.

His critically acclaimed biography, Feel, topped the book charts for weeks and his first Greatest Hits album, featuring the number one single Radio, was one of the biggest selling albums of 2004.

Released in October 2005, Intensive Care was Williams' fastest selling album ever.

Best selling

Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams
Williams and Nicole had a Christmas number one together
However in recent months the success of the once golden boy of pop has started to dwindle.

Williams received lukewarm reviews for his latest album Rudebox - just as Take That enjoyed a revival.

Critics panned the single of the same name, taking a dislike to the dance/electro sounds Williams had chosen to use.

Last year, Williams turned down the offer to join Take That during their comeback tour.

But former bandmate Mark Owen, speaking to the BBC in December 2006, brushed aside suggestions that Robbie was suffering a decline.

"I think if you're writing off Robbie, I think you're being a bit silly. You know Rob will be back, I don't think he's ever gone away really," he said.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Clips of Robbie performing for his fans



SEE ALSO
Williams enters rehab on birthday
13 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Robbie Williams tops album chart
29 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Robbie cancels Asian tour dates
15 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Robbie misses Take That reunion
15 Nov 05 |  Entertainment

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