Metromania: Bright lights - Richard Oakes

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The Independent Culture
Halfway through studying for his A-levels, Richard Oakes landed a nice little earner as guitarist in (squeal) Suede. He didn't actually apply for the job (500 other people did) - instead he was auditioned on the strength of an impromptu demo tape he sent to the band's fan club. Self-assured, good-looking, the boy's a natural.

Age: 17 Star sign: Libra ('Yeah, I'm well balanced.') Birthplace: Perivale, west London People say: 'He can play like the devil, he really can. He writes as well, and he hasn't just been in rock bands before. He's played with jazz bands and he's got an overall sense of music' - Brett Anderson, singer, Suede He says: 'I'm a good guitarist and I'm self-taught, not trained. I'm not fazed by what I'm doing or going to have a nervous breakdown. It's a job.'

Big break: 'Life has changed unbelievably since I started with the band. I don't know anyone my age any more, I've moved house, I'm earning money and playing big gigs. I've sampled the high life and adapted to it very quickly.

No, it's not a dream come true - but I know I'm very, very lucky.'

Recipe for success: 'Believe in yourself if you're good at something. When the big chance comes, go for it.'

Philosophy of life: 'I'm not old enough to have a philosophy.'

Fame is: 'I've not sampled real fame yet. Sure some housewife in Shropshire has read about me, but I can still walk down the street.'

Most embarrassing public moment: 'When Brett introduces me as 'our new boy' and the fans chant my name. Also, when we were playing in France our guitar leads got severed and we couldn't play. That was one of my first gigs.'

In five years' time: 'I'd like to be in the same place, except with five hit albums and writing a sixth one. And I'll still be living for music.'

(Photograph omitted)

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