Noel Thomas David Gallagher (born 29 May 1967 in Manchester, England) is the principal songwriter, lead guitarist, and occasional vocalist of English rock band Oasis. Raised with younger brother Liam Gallagher in Burnage, Manchester, Gallagher began to teach himself the guitar at the age of thirteen during a period of probation. After a series of odd jobs in construction, Gallagher joined local Manchester band Inspiral Carpets as a roadie in 1988. In 1991, he became a member of brother Liam's band The Rain, quickly asserting his dominance over the group.
Within a few years, with Oasis' early success due to their debut album, 1994's Definitely Maybe, Gallagher assumed center stage of the Britpop movement, during which Oasis continued to enjoy much critical and commercial success. This stage of the band's career was epitomised by the release of their second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? and a rivalry with fellow Britpop band Blur. Since the demise of Britpop, Gallagher and Oasis have released six more albums.
Noel Gallagher was born in Longsight, Manchester, to Irish parents Peggy and Tommy Gallagher. He was the couple's second child; his older brother, Paul, was born in 1966. Soon after the birth of younger brother Liam in 1972, the Gallaghers moved to Ashburn Avenue in the Manchester suburb of Burnage.
Peggy Gallagher acquired a legal notice of separation from her husband in 1976. Six years later she finally left him, taking the three boys with her. As teenagers the Gallagher brothers — especially Noel — were regular truants, often getting in trouble with the police. When his mother took a job working in the school canteen, Noel ensured that he stopped by to visit her during lunch before skipping the rest of the day. He has admitted to stealing car stereos and burglary as a teenager. At the age of thirteen, Noel received six months' probation for robbing a corner shop. It was during this period of probation, with little else to do, that Noel first began to teach himself to play a guitar his father had left him, imitating his favourite songs from the radio. Noel was particularly inspired by the debut of The Smiths on Top of the Pops in 1983, performing their single "This Charming Man". He later reflected, "From that day on ... I wanted to be [Smiths guitarist] Johnny Marr."
During his teenage years, the Gallagher brothers maintained contact with their father in order to secure jobs in construction. Working with their father was tempestuous; Noel said, "Because we were always arguing we'd still be working at nine o'clock every night". Having left his father's building company, he took a job at another building firm sub-contracted to British Gas. There he sustained an injury when a heavy cap from a steel gas pipe landed on his right foot. Following a period of recuperation, Noel was offered a less physically demanding role in the company's storehouse, freeing up time in which to practice guitar and write songs. He claimed to have written at least three of the songs on Definitely Maybe in this storehouse (including "Live Forever" and "Columbia"). Much of the late 1980s found Noel unemployed and living in a bedsit, occupying his time with recreational drug use, songwriting and guitar playing. His musical interests at the time revolved largely around British rock music, most notably The Beatles, whose influence is heavily reflected in his songwriting. Other influences were T.Rex, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Slade, The Kinks, The Smiths and The Small Faces.
In May 1988, Noel met guitarist Graham Lambert of Inspiral Carpets during a Stone Roses show. The two struck up an acquaintanceship and Noel became a regular at Inspiral Carpets shows. When he heard singer Steve Holt was leaving the band, Noel auditioned to be the new vocalist. He was rejected, but became part of their road crew for two years. Singer Tom Hingley said that Gallagher owes his own career to the band, since "his business sense, work ethic, message and humour are Inspiral down to the core." Noel struck up a friendship with monitor engineer Mark Coyle over their love of the Beatles, and the pair spent soundchecks dissecting the groups' songs.
In 1991, Noel returned from an American tour with the Inspiral Carpets to find that his brother Liam had become the lead singer with a local band called "The Rain". It transpired that Liam had joined the band with the hope of adding his brother, and his songwriting abilities, to it. Noel attended one of their concerts at Manchester's Boardwalk, but was unimpressed by the group's act. After persuasion from Liam, he agreed to join the band, on the condition that he take creative control of the group and become its sole songwriter. According to another source, Noel Gallagher told Liam and the rest of the group after having heard them play for the first time: "Let me write your songs and I'll take you to superstardom, or else you'll rot here in Manchester". His control over the band in its early years earned him the nickname "The Chief".
In May 1993, the band heard that a record executive from Creation Records would be scouting for talent at King Tut's, a club in Glasgow. Together, they found the money to hire a van and make the six-hour journey. When they arrived, they were refused entry to the club because no one notified the venue that Oasis had been added to the bill. The band eventually secured the opening slot and played a four-song set that impressed Creation founder Alan McGee. McGee then took the Live Demonstration tape to Sony America and invited Oasis to meet with him a week later in London, at which point they were signed to a six-album contract. Gallagher has since claimed that he only had six songs written at the time, and has put his success in the interview down to "bullshitting". However, McGee believes that when they met, Gallagher had fifty or so songs written, and merely lied about how prolific he had been following the contract.
Gallagher claimed to have written Oasis' first single, "Supersonic", in "the time it takes to play the song." "Supersonic" was released in early 1994 and peaked at #31 on the official UK charts. The single was later followed by Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe, which was released in August 1994 and was a critical and commercial success. It became the fastest-selling debut album in British history at the time, and entered the UK Charts at #1. Despite their rapidly growing popularity, Noel briefly left Oasis in 1994 during their first American tour. The conditions were poor, and he felt the American audience—still preoccupied with grunge and metal—did not understand the band. Noel stated that his early songs, specially "Live Forever", were written to refute grunge's pessimism. Tensions mounted between him and Liam, culminating in a fight after a disastrous L.A. gig. Having effectively decided to quit the music industry, he flew to San Francisco without telling the band, management or the crew. It was during this time that Noel wrote "Talk Tonight" as a "thank you" for the girl he stayed with, who "talked him from off the ledge". He was tracked down by Creation's Tim Abbot and during a trip by the pair to Las Vegas Noel decided to continue with the band. He reconciled with his brother and the tour resumed in Minneapolis.
Britpop and the height of fame
Gallagher followed up the debut in 1995 with Oasis' first UK #1 single in "Some Might Say". This preceded their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995). Though it suffered initial critical apathy, the album became the second fastest-selling album in the UK, entering the UK album charts at #1 and peaking at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The success of Oasis and his newfound fame and fortune were not lost on Gallagher, and both he and his brother became famous for their "rock and roll lifestyle". They drank heavily, abused drugs, fought fans, critics, peers, and each other, and made celebrity friends such as Ian Brown, Paul Weller, Mani and Richard Ashcroft. Noel Gallagher spent extravagantly, buying various cars and a swimming pool, despite the fact he can neither drive, nor swim. He named his house in Belsize Park in London "Supernova Heights" (after the song "Champagne Supernova"), and his two cats "Benson" and "Hedges" after his favourite brand of cigarettes.
Oasis went on to have greater success with their next two singles, "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger" charting at #2 and #1 respectively. Originally, Noel had wanted to take lead vocals on "Wonderwall", but Liam insisted on singing it. As compensation, Noel decided he would sing lead vocals on "Don't Look Back in Anger". 1995 also saw Gallagher play two songs for the charity album Help!: "Fade Away", accompanied by friend and Oasis fan Johnny Depp and Depp's then-girlfriend Kate Moss; and The Beatles' 1969 hit "Come Together", along with Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and others in a supergroup called Smokin' Mojo Filters.Noel has also collaborated with the Chemical Brothers, Ian Brown, The Stands, The Prodigy and Weller, amongst others. Gallagher became so influential that a June 1996 NME article argued that "If Noel Gallagher, the most successful songwriter of his generation, champions a group, then said group are guaranteed more mainstream kudos and, quite possibly, more sales. And since Noel has taken to championing only five or six groups, then it's a powerful cabal he's promoting." The NME article grouped the bands Gallagher praised, including The Boo Radleys, Ocean Colour Scene, and Cast, under the banner of "Noelrock". John Harris typified these bands, and Gallagher, of sharing "a dewy-eyed love of the 1960s, a spurning of much beyond rock's most basic ingredients, and a belief in the supremacy of 'real music'".
In March 1996, Noel and Liam Gallagher met their father again when a British newspaper paid him to go to their hotel during a tour. Noel left for his room, later commenting "as far as I'm concerned, I haven't got a father. He's not a father to me, y'know? I don't respect him in any way whatsoever". Also in 1996, Oasis sold out two nights at Knebworth, playing to over 250,000 fans. Following the worldwide success of Morning Glory?, Be Here Now (1997) became Oasis' most eagerly anticipated album to date. As with the previous two albums, all the tracks were written by Noel. After an initial blaze of publicity, positive critical reviews, and commercial success, the album failed to live up to long-term expectations, and public goodwill towards Be Here Now was short-lived. The album was ultimately regarded by many as a bloated, over-indulgent version of Oasis, which Gallagher has since blamed on the drug-addicted state and indifference of the band at the time.
Gallagher began to suffer drug-induced panic attacks during this period. His lonely, paranoid state inspired the song "Gas Panic!", subsequently included on the 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. Gallagher claims to have quit drugs on 5 June 1998. He stated in 2001, "I liked drugs, I was good at them. But I'd had panic attacks for about a year and I stopped because I wanted to. After you make the decision, it is quite easy." Between 1993 and 1998, he claims, "I can hardly remember a thing."
After the hype surrounding the release of Be Here Now had started to wane, critical response to the band became calmer and more considered, leading to a media backlash. In 1997, Noel was criticised for attending a high-profile and well-publicised media party at 10 Downing Street, hosted by the newly-elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair, along with other celebrities and industry figures who had supported New Labour in the run-up to the general election. Both brother Liam and Blur's Damon Albarn declined their invitations, with Albarn commenting "Enjoy the schmooze, comrade." The perception of Gallagher as someone now mixing with politicians—or, in particular, a famous photograph of him sipping champagne with Blair—conflicted with the "working class hero" status championed through songs such as "Up in the Sky".
In 1999, rhythm guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs quit the band after a row with Noel, with bassist Paul McGuigan following soon afterwards. As a result, the fourth studio album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was recorded by just the Gallaghers and drummer Alan White, with Noel playing all guitar parts. Gallagher commented on Bonehead's departure, "It's hardly Paul McCartney leaving the Beatles, is it?". After the recording sessions were completed, Gallagher selected Gem Archer to join in place of Bonehead.
In 1999 Alan McGee decided to leave Creation and sold the rest of his 51% stake in the label to Sony. Gallagher took this opportunity to set up Big Brother Recordings, which took over Oasis' distribution in the UK, but Sony imprint Epic Records continues to handle the band's international distribution. Around the time of the album's release, Andy Bell, formerly of Ride, joined the band as bassist. In 2001, Gallagher formed his own label, Sour Mash Records, which released records by the likes of Shack and Proud Mary. The incorporation of the label followed Gallagher's debut as a producer, working with Proud Mary on their debut, The Same Old Blues.
In late 2006, Gallagher toured the UK, Europe, Japan, America and Australia in a series of acclaimed intimate semi-acoustic gigs accompanied by Gem Archer and Terry Kirkbride on percussion. The show proved successful and a further series of sets took place in 2007. March 2007 saw Gallagher perform in Moscow — the first time an Oasis member has performed in Russia. Yet Gallagher dismissed claims that he was planning to embark on a solo career. In early 2007, Gallagher joined the rest of Oasis to collect the "Outstanding Contribution to Music" Award at the Brit Awards 2007.
Gallagher married Meg Mathews in Las Vegas, Nevada in June 1997. Mathews gave birth to a daughter, Anais, in 2000. Gallagher and Mathews divorced shortly afterwards, in January 2001, following Liam's own announcement of his separation from Patsy Kensit. He has since entered a long-term relationship with Scottish girlfriend, Sara MacDonald, who gave birth to Noel's second child, Donovan Rory MacDonald Gallagher in 2007. He was a frequent guest on The Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2, appearing on almost every show, leading Brand to dub him an unofficial "Co presenter". Other notable friends of his are, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols guitarist) , the members of the rock band Kasabian, Carl Barât & boxer, Ricky Hatton. In 2001 he was reported to have an estimated personal fortune of £25 million.
Gallagher is an agnostic. In 2005 Gallagher discussed his Catholic roots and how to pray with U2 singer Bono, saying of Bono "that he made tons of sense." Subsequent to his talk with Bono, Gallagher restated in a 2006 radio interview with Russell Brand that he does not believe in God or "an all-guiding force." Although Gallagher isn't very religious, throughout his career many of his songs mention God; (Carry Us All, Gas Panic, The Hindu Times, Little by Little, Let's All Make Believe to name five) and all the tracks he had contributed to Dig Out Your Soul, as well as the other band mates' songs, have lyrics and references to God and other biblical terms. The entire record has been described by Noel as a "religious Armageddon". But in recent interviews for Dig Out Your Soul regarding religion, Noel stated "See, I don’t know what I am. If I was an atheist I’d just write songs about not believing in God - but I don’t know what I am."
Songwriting and musicianship
Noel Gallagher is the primary songwriter in Oasis, and on the group's first few albums he was the sole songwriting contributor. Gallagher is often criticised for the praise he gives to his own songs. He points out "If you'd written 'Live Forever', you'd be walking to a different tune the next day too." Gallagher has often been accused by critics of plagiarising the music of his heroes, but he has maintained outright homages in his music are his intention. In a 1996 Guitar World interview, he described himself as "a fan who writes songs" and stated, "I'm not saying, 'I'm the greatest songwriter in the world. Listen to me.' Usually, I'm saying, 'These are the greatest songwriters in the world. And I'm gonna put them all in this song"'. His response to critics about the topic of "blatantly pinching riffs" was, "No, I don't feel guilty. But you feel pissed off because you didn't do it first."
Though naturally left-handed, Gallagher plays guitar right-handed, which he claims is the only thing he can do with his weak hand. Noel has said he sometimes does not understand his own lyrics, commenting in 2005 that "when I'm halfway through 'Don't Look Back in Anger' I say to myself. 'I still don't know what these words mean!'"
Changing band dynamic
Gallagher's role as chief songwriter for Oasis has changed as he allowed a greater level of lyrical input from the other band members. Standing on the Shoulder of Giants included Oasis' first ever album track written by Liam Gallagher. Heathen Chemistry included a further three tracks by Liam (including the single "Songbird"), one by Archer and one by Bell. Don't Believe the Truth featured another three tracks by Liam (though one of them, "Love Like a Bomb" was co-written with Archer,) one from Archer, and two from Bell. The latter two albums have been greeted with increasing critical and commercial success in the U.K., particularly Don't Believe the Truth. Yet the second single from Don't Believe the Truth, "The Importance of Being Idle" became the second Noel-sung Oasis track to top the UK charts and was named 2005's finest track by Q magazine, as well as being nominated for the NME's "Best Song of 2005" award. However, on recent Oasis albums, Noel's increasing role as lead singer, apparently to compensate for his diminished role as songwriter, has caused some tension with Liam.
Zak Starkey, previous drummer for Gallagher's heroes The Who and Johnny Marr, and son of former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, replaced longtime Oasis drummer Alan White during the recording sessions for Don't Believe the Truth. The loss of their longtime drummer prompted Gallagher boastfully to comment, in a 2005 interview, that he puts Oasis' trouble with drummers, in part, to the fact that he is himself a talented drummer, saying "I get a lot of stick for it, but I'm the best drummer in the group."
Dislike of promotion
In an interview for Clash, Noel expressed his dislike of the promotional cycle: “We’re inherently lazy, you know what I mean? We wanna be getting pissed half the time, and the other fuckin’ time we want to be getting fuckin’ high. I’m not arsed about going to see some fat c*nt and his fat kids and his fat record shop in fuckin’ Fatsville, USA… What the fuck do I care about him?”
The Coral for the track "In The Rain" from the album "Roots and Echoes".
Paul Weller — "I Walk On Gilded Splinters" (Dr. John cover) from the album Stanley Road (1995); Rhythm guitar.
The Chemical Brothers — "Setting Sun" from the album Dig Your Own Hole (1996) and in "Let Forever Be" from the album Surrender (1999), lead vocals and songwriting.
Beck — "Devil's Haircut" from the "Devil's Haircut" single (1996); Remix.
Goldie — "Temper Temper" from the album Saturnz Return (1998); Guitars.
UNKLE — "The Knock-On Effect" from the "Be There" single (1999); Remix.
Proud Mary — Co-producer with Gem Archer and musician on the album Same Old Blues (2001)
Cornershop — "Spectral Mornings" from the album Handcream For A Generation (2002); Guitar.
Paul Weller — "One X One" from the album Illumination (2002); Drums, bass, percussion & acoustic guitar along with Gem Archer.
"Echoes Round the Sun" single from the album 22 Dreams (2008); Backing vocals & slide guitar along with Gem Archer.
The Stands — "Some Weekend Night" from the album All Years Leaving (2004); Guitar
The Who — "Won't Get Fooled Again" from the album Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2003); Lead guitar.
The Prodigy — "Shoot Down" from the album Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004); Bass (also featured Liam Gallagher on vocals.)
Ricky Gervais — "Free Love Freeway" from The Office Specials DVD (2004); Backing vocals, guitar.
Ian Brown — "Keep What Ya Got" from the album Solarized (2004); Guitars, keyboards, piano, backing vocals and co-songwriting.