They're back... Robbie Williams returns to his boy band roots
They split up in 1996 with all the acrimony, bitterness and frozen silences of lovers, breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls.
But yesterday, the five band members of the "boy" band Take That – Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen – announced they had recorded a new album as a fivesome for the first time in 15 years, in the schmaltzy language of reuniting lovers.
"I get embarrassingly excited when the five of us are in a room," said Williams. "It feels like coming home."
As Take That's veteran singer, Williams has until now forged a successful solo career while his former bandmates reformed as a four-piece band in 2005 and climbed back up the charts.
Now he's back for good, it appears, or at least long enough for the band to release a new studio album as a five-piece band, due out in November.
All five singers have written the songs for the record.
The last time they were all in the same recording studio was in 1995, when their fresh faces matched their marketing label as Britain's biggest boy band. But months after bringing out their number one album Nobody Else, an intense enmity was sparked between Williams and Barlow.
Williams wanted to introduce hip hop and rap to the band's squeaky clean pop ballads and his friendship with Orange and Barlow became fractious. During one of the last rehearsals before a tour was due to begin in 1996, Williams left the band under a cloud.
Yesterday, all that was forgotten. Orange said it was "flippin' brilliant", adding: "I'm over the moon that Robbie's back with us, however long it lasts. I just want to enjoy our time with him. Life is beautifully strange sometimes."
Cynics will no doubt sneer at Williams' fortuitous timing at rejoining the band, when Take That is riding high once more. A reunion between the five took place in New York last September, following Take That's recording-breaking "The Circus Live" tour. Rumours of the album had been rife ever since Williams revealed earlier this year that he was releasing a single, "Shame", with Barlow.
The band formed in 1990 when they were still teenagers. They went on to win seven Brit Awards, had five number one albums and 11 number one hits.
Take That timeline
1989 Manager Nigel Martin-Smith holds auditions for a band. Take That forms
July 1991 "Do What U Like", the band's first single, flops
June 1992 A cover of Tavares' hit "It Only Takes a Minute", reaches number 7
July 1993 "Pray" is their first number 1
July 1995 Robbie Williams quits the band
February 1996 The band announce the split on Robbie's 22nd birthday. The Samaritans set up helpline for fans
December 1997 Robbie's solo career takes off with "Angels"
October 2002 Robbie signs £80m contract with EMI Records
May 2006 The band, without Robbie, record for the first time in 10 years
November 2006 The album, Beautiful World, reaches number one in the UK
November 2009 Robbie joins Take That at Children in Need concert
July 2010 Band announce recording of new album, together with Robbie
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