Noel Thomas David Gallagher (born May 29, 1967) is the lead songwriter, guitarist and sometime lead-singer with the British rock band Oasis. He is the older brother of Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and the two are often pigeon-holed as squabbling siblings.
In the 1990s, he was centre stage of what the media coined the Britpop movement. Oasis' first album, Definitely Maybe, became the fastest selling British debut ever, and the follow-up (What's the Story) Morning Glory? defined its era.
Gallagher is often criticized for the praise he gives to his own songs. Though many consider this to be intense arrogance, he himself maintains that it is merely self-confidence and points out "If you'd written Live Forever, you'd be walking to a different tune the next day too".
Noel was born in Longsight, Manchester to Irish parents Peggy and Thomas Gallagher. He is the middle child of three, his elder brother Paul was born in 1966, and Liam was born 1972. The Gallagher brothers grew up in the suburb of Burnage. Noel first began to teach himself to play guitar at the age of 13, imitating his favourite songs from the radio. Both he and Liam were regular truants and in their teens were often in trouble with the police - they allegedly broke into cars and stole bicycles, and at the age of thirteen, Noel received six months' probation for robbing a corner shop. He attended St Robert's Infant School in Longsight (1971), St Bernard's Primary in Burnage (1972) and St Mark's Secondary in Didsbury (1978). His childhood nickname was Brezhnev, after the former Russian president known for his bushy eyebrows.
In April 1984 (some sources suggest April 1986), Peggy left her husband due to his violent mood swings brought about by his alcoholism, taking their three boys with her. Noel has since maintained a strained relationship with his father, notwithstanding periods in the 1980s in which all the Gallagher siblings (along with numerous cousins and uncles) at one time or another worked for their father's construction company. Other jobs endured by Noel include being a sign writer for an estate agent, as well as working in a bed factory and a bakery.
Having left his father's building company, Noel took a job at another building firm sub-contracted to British Gas, until sustaining an injury whereby a heavy cap from a steel gas pipe landed on his right foot, crushing it. Following a period of recuperation, Gallagher was offered a less physically demanding role in the company's storehouse, freeing up time in which to practice guitar and write songs. Gallagher now claims to have written at least three of the songs on Definitely Maybe in this storehouse. Much of the late 1980s found Gallagher unemployed and living in a bedsit, occupying his time with drugs, songwriting and guitar playing.
In 1988, Noel auditioned to be vocalist for the band Inspiral Carpets. Though rejected for the position, he was hired by the band as a guitar technician. In 1992, he returned from an American tour with the band to find that his brother had become lead singer with local band Oasis, then called "Rain". The band also featured Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs on rhythm guitar, Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan on bass and Tony McCaroll on drums. It transpired that Liam had joined the band with the hope of adding Noel, and his songwriting abilities, to the formula. Noel attended an Oasis concert at Manchester's Boardwalk, finding himself unimpressed by the group's act. After cajoling by Liam, he agreed to join the band on the condition that he maintain creative control of the group and become its sole songwriter. The rest of the band agreed, at which point Oasis undertook a year of intensive rehearsing.
Perhaps as a result of Noel's perceived arrogance, or genuine self-belief, Oasis at first resisted the route of the typical unsigned band. Neglecting to send out any decent demos to record companies the band waited instead for a record deal to come to them. At the end of 1992 Noel finally contacted Tony Griffiths of Liverpool band The Real People, (who he had met when they were supporting The Inspiral Carpets) and arranged to record a professional sounding demo at their Liverpool studio. The resulting tape, known as the Live Demonstration tape, later formed the basis for their first album. In May, 1993, after seeing the band perform at Glasgow club King Tut's - a gig they allegedly bullied their way into - Alan McGee of Creation Records took the demo 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. Their first album, Definitely Maybe, was released in 1994 and was a critical and commercial success, becoming the fastest-selling debut album in British history. However, tension mounted between Noel and McCaroll, and in 1995, the band asked the drummer to leave. He was replaced by Alan White.
Gallagher briefly left Oasis in 1994 during their first American tour. The conditions were poor, Noel felt the Americans did not understand the band, and tensions mounted between him and Liam, culminating in a fight after a disastrous L.A gig. Having effectively decided to quit the music industry, Gallagher flew to San Francisco without telling the band, management or the crew. Their manager finally got hold of him, and Noel vowed to him that he would never return to Oasis. In an effort to calm him down, the two took a trip to Las Vegas where they met a newly married couple. The four drank and talked about music for some time until the wife of the couple finally convinced Noel to return to his band.
1995 saw the release of Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. Though it suffered initial critical apathy, the album became the second fastest-selling album in the UK. With the help of a well-publicised feud between the Gallaghers and members of fellow britpop band Blur, Morning Glory became the springboard to mainstream commercial success for Noel and the band. The Gallaghers became household names, and as the momentum of the album built, Oasis went on to become one of the most popular and successful British acts of the 1990s. The album even propelled the band to success in America, albeit temporarily. Noel's extensive catalogue of songs - ironically written in the storehouses and bedsits he had so bemoaned in the 80s - were the fuel behind Oasis' success in the 90s. Noel has revealed that he suffers from dyslexia, and finds the disorder to be something of an challenge in the process of writing songs.
1995 also saw Gallagher join his friends Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp to form the Smokin' Mojo Filters. The supergroup, assembled by Weller, recorded The Beatles' 1969 hit "Come Together" (the song's lyrics "He no Mojo filter" inspiring the name for the makeshift band) for the charity album Help!. Noel has also collaborated with the Chemical Brothers, Ian Brown, The Stands, The Prodigy and Paul Weller, amongst others.
Gallagher is a keen fan of music and has played a part in pushing and inspiring the careers of many new bands including Coldplay, Travis and The Zutons. Richard Ashcroft (formerly of The Verve, and the person for whom the song "Cast No Shadow" was written) once stated that "Noel Gallagher opened our eyes; for a lot of young people in the North West, to pick up a guitar." Oasis are also attributed by some with helping to resurrect stadium rock concerts in England, most noticeably with their record-breaking summer shows at Knebworth in August 1996. Also in 1996, Noel provided lead vocals at Oasis' MTV Unplugged set when Liam was struck down with a "sore throat".
Gallagher married girlfriend Meg Mathews in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 5th, 1997, preceding the release of the third Oasis album, Be Here Now, on 21 August. Following the worldwide success of Morning Glory, it became their most eagerly anticipated album to date, possibly the most eagerly awaited album of the 1990s. As with the previous two albums, all the tracks were written by Noel. After the initial blaze of publicity, positive critical reviews, and commercial success, the album did not live up to long-term expectations, and the public's goodwill towards Be Here Now was short-lived. The album was ultimately regarded by many as a bloated, over-indulgent version of Oasis, defended by Noel as being due to his drug-addicted state at the time. Noel began to suffer panic attacks during this period, his lonely, paranoid state inspiring the song Gas Panic, subsequently included on the 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
After the near-hysterical hype surrounding the release of Be Here Now had started to lessen, critical response to the band became calmer and more considered, leading to an inevitable 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 that had supported New Labour in the run-up to the general election. The perception of Gallagher, as someone now mixing with politicians, conflicted with the authentic "working class hero" status championed through songs such as Up In The Sky. In 1999, after a row with Noel, Bonehead quit the band, with Guigsy soon following. As a result, the fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was recorded by just Noel, Liam and White, with Noel playing all guitar parts. The album customarily peaked at number one, but was met with an even greater level of contempt by the critics than their previous effort. On January 27, 2000, Mathews gave birth to a daughter, Anais. However, Gallagher and Mathews divorced shortly afterwards, in January 2001, following Liam's own announcement of his separation from Patsy Kensit. It is rumoured that Mathews could not abide Noel's desire to move to the countryside and missed partying with her friends in London. He has since entered a long-term relationship with Sara MacDonald.
Gallagher's role as chief songwriter for Oasis has been challanged since the turn of the century 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 not by Noel, but by Liam. Heathen Chemistry included a further 3 tracks by Liam (including Songbird, which was released as a single), one by guitarist Gem Archer and one by bassist Andy Bell. Don't Believe the Truth featured a further 3 tracks by Liam, one from Archer and two from Bell. Interestingly, the latter two albums have been greeted with increasing critical and commercial success.