Oasis: 'I thought I split the band in Morning Glory recording sessions'

By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Wales News

  • Published
Liam Gallagher singing with BoneheadImage source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Oasis photographer Michael Spencer Jones says "everything Oasis did was adrenaline charged and that's why people's excitement goes off the scale"

It's regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, a soundtrack that defined a Britpop generation and the home to some iconic indie rock anthems.

Music fans are celebrating and reminiscing as on Friday it is 25 years since Oasis' record-breaking seminal masterpiece (What's The Story) Morning Glory was released to much hype and hysteria.

But the very existence of the band was thrown into doubt during its recording back in 1995 after a "Victorian fistfight" between singer Liam Gallagher and songwriting brother Noel on the studio lawn.

"A fight? There were air rifles, fire extinguishers and a TV was hanging out the window while still plugged in," recalls a trusted member of Oasis' entourage.

The Gallagher brothers clashed in what was described as their "biggest fight yet" at the end of their first week of what was due to be a six-week session in south Wales, a scrap that caused recording to come to a grinding halt.

The otherwise tranquil surroundings of the rolling Welsh hills were punctuated by the screeching of wheels in the early hours as Noel left the studio with his younger brother throwing a bin after him.

"Most of the band left the recording sessions while I was still at the studio - and people felt they might not finish the album for sure," remembers Oasis photographer Michael Spencer Jones. "It was a serious falling out."

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Mr Spencer Jones said "what was great about Oasis was they brought people from all walks of lives together"

The Gallaghers are notorious for being among the bad boys of rock and their sibling rivalry is renowned but Liam has acknowledged this one was "one of the biggest fights" he's had with his brother.

"They actually split up at that point, ceased to be a band in the middle of recording one of the biggest albums ever," said the man who was the main cause of the "carnage", speaking publicly for the first time.

'It was good to be back'

The sessions had started so well as Oasis had finished a world tour promoting their critically-acclaimed first record Definitely Maybe, then the UK's fastest-selling debut album of all time, when they headed to south Wales to record their follow-up.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Liam Gallagher said the quick recording sessions were because "there was loads of pubs in town"

Some Might Say, the first single from (What's The Story) Morning Glory, had just become their first UK No 1 single as Oasis rocked up at the legendary Rockfield Studio made famous by Queen, who had recorded Bohemian Rhapsody inside their old farmhouse.

British rock's newest superstars were to headline the opening night of the Glastonbury Festival later that summer so in May 1995 they had six weeks booked to record their next record to capitalise on the whirlwind surrounding Manchester's finest.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Oasis recorded the 12 tracks of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? in 12 days at Rockfield Studios

"Nobody had any idea of what was going to happen," Noel recalled to Oasis' YouTube Channel. "I wrote the songs and I was more surprised than anyone."

Literally. As the Oasis bandwagon motored to Monmouth, Noel Gallagher's bandmates still didn't know what songs were still in his head, never mind knowing if those tunes would transform into floor fillers.

"Travelling to the studio, no-one had heard any of the songs, they were all in my head," the songwriter has said.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
(What's The Story) Morning Glory? has sold more than 22 million copies worldwide

"The bus driver had to take a break so we pulled up in a layby and I played them the whole album on an acoustic guitar."

'Say what you say, don't let anybody get in your way'

Once recording started, the schedule was intense. Roll With It was recorded on day one; album opener Hello on day two and on day three, a song came to life that would go down in history as among the greatest of all time.

Figure caption,
Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

"There was a little bit of debate on who was going to sing Wonderwall, " recalled studio engineer Nick Brine.

"Noel was going to sing Wonderwall, then Liam was going to sing Wonderwall, then Noel said OK I'll sing Don't Look in Anger and then Liam wanted to sing Don't Look Back In Anger - there was a debate as to who was going to sing what."

Everyone knows how that went. But what you may not know is Noel Gallagher actually played his guitar parts to Wonderwall sat on a 10ft wall.

Media caption,

Noel Gallagher recorded Oasis hit Wonderwall - on a wall

Noel had to wait until day four to sing lead vocals on Don't Look Back in Anger while a week of recording classics was culminated with Champagne Supernova on Friday.

While Liam and his band-mates were getting high on Monmouth's nightlife, Noel and the producers spent their Friday night mastering the album's closing number.

It was a night that was to "go down in Oasis folklore" for all of the wrong reasons.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Mr Spencer Jones said Oasis had a "ruthless efficiency and not over complicating recording" to finish Morning Glory in less than two weeks

One called it "carnage", another "a scene from a Western" but to Liam and Noel Gallagher, this was another day in a rock 'n' roll band.

'Bound with all the words he tried to say'

The cause? Step forward a sheepish now married father-of-two and science fiction author called Darius Hinks.

In retrospect, he said he's "slightly embarrassed and extremely remorseful" that his "youthful musical snobbery" sparked a row that temporarily threw into doubt the future of a band on the cusp of the big time.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Classical star Nigel Kennedy was also recording at Rockfield and challenged Oasis to a football game in Monmouth
Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Oasis, with Mani from Stone Roses, beat Nigel Kennedy's all-star XI 6-1 on the playing fields one afternoon in Monmouth

Hinks was guitarist with British grunge band Cable who were also in Monmouth at Monnow Valley Studios recording their debut album.

They bumped into Oasis "in a boozer in town" on Friday night before returning to Rockfield for a party.

Hinks, a self-confessed "booze lightweight", lit the spark for a "nuclear explosion" at the heart of one of Britain's biggest bands.

It went from "low-key playing Subbuteo and listening to the Small Faces" to being chased away within a few hours.

"They were playing us some demos, the song we now know is Don't Look Back in Anger," Hinks, now 48, recalls. "They were were rightfully really proud of it.

'Made no preparation for my reputation'

"But there was lots of posh whisky. I was also more into alternative music and when you're young you get quite po-faced about music tribalism and Oasis was too mainstream for me so I got on my indie high horse.

Image source, Michael Spencer Jones
Image caption,
Mr Spencer Jones thought Oasis had "the balance between working and playing just right" as they made things "seem effortless"

"I started whinging saying it sounds like Imagine or The Beatles - and I love the Beatles so I have no idea why I was taking it so seriously.

"I was winding up Liam, hugging and tickling him and being annoying. It was very silly especially to a macho band.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Derby's grunge rockers Cable sparked a fight between the Gallagher brothers that put the future of Oasis in doubt

"The atmosphere soured and ended by me getting punched as our producer picked me up and ran with Oasis members chasing us. Now I'm embarrassed I was such a bad guest when they were good to us."

'I'll be you and you'll be me'

That drunken fisticuffs just turned out to be the hors d'oeuvre to the main event as sibling rivalry turned nasty.

Noel's view was "I'm here to make a record" but Liam wanted to live the life of rock 'n' roll superstar.

"There were cricket bats, air rifles - and I remember him getting into a car and going with me running up the drive shouting," Liam recalled in one interview.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The success of Morning Glory was the catalyst as Oasis sold out huge venues like London's Earls Court in minutes
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
More than two-and-a-half million people applied for tickets to see Oasis at Knebworth in 1996

"A Victorian fistfight on Rockfield's lawn" is how Oasis' photographer recalled it. Michael Spencer Jones had been with the band since the start and had seen a few rucks but this was "on another level".

"It was chaos and the scene of devastation in Liam's room afterwards was was like nothing I'd ever seen," Mr Spencer Jones recalled. "It was like a nuclear explosion had gone off.

"Noel wanted me to drive him to Paul Weller's house back in London but I couldn't as I'd been drinking but the band quickly disappeared - and everyone was thinking 'is that it? is it over?'"

The brothers didn't return the following week as doubts continued to linger about Oasis' future.

'Don't look back in anger'

"We rang the record company and they said 'we thought they'd been banned'," laughed studio owner Kingsley Ward.

Media caption,

Rockfield Studios has been home to some of the biggest rock stars

"We didn't care less. They're lovely boys. They came back, paid the damage about 800 quid, apologised and went in that studio and did one of the greatest records in the world afterwards.

"It showed this band had something going for them," he told Oasis' YouTube Channel.

(What's The Story) Morning Glory? sold a record-breaking 345,000 copies in its first week and the record transformed Oasis into a worldwide rock phenomenon - now on Friday evening Oasis fans can take part in a social media singalong.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.