(Credit: Michael Spencer Jones)

How Alan McGee discovered Oasis

One night in May changed everything in the trajectory of an optimistic and feverishly confident Manchester band going by the name of Oasis. After making their debut at Glasgow music venue King Tuts, the future of British music deviated onto an entirely new path. Unbeknown to them at the time, Creation Records boss Alan McGee was in the building and signed them on the spot. Even though he had high hopes for the band, neither had any idea of what the future had in store.

Creation was the label to be at in 1993. Following the triumphs of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, the excitement was palpable. Little on from a year after their first appearance in Glasgow, Oasis would release Definitely Maybe and confirm themselves to be the biggest band in Britain. Their hype train soon got operating at full speed, but it was the show at King Tuts that got their journey started.

Former King Tuts promoter, Geoff Ellis, later recalled the evening in question and revealed that Oasis were only a last-minute addition to the bill. McGee was only in attendance because he was friends with a member of Sister Lovers and wanted to surprise her by watching the band’s first gig, but they may have caught wind that he was coming.

Ellis explained to GlasgowLive in 2018: “At the time our offices were over in Pollokshields and I was sitting in the basement when I got a call about 6pm telling me an extra band had turned up, some mates of Sister Lovers and was it OK for them to be added to the bill. I said well you know they’re sharing the backline with some other bands, we’re not expecting to pay them so I sorted them out with a few beers and everything.”

Oasis didn’t need money. They would play anywhere and everywhere then just for the thrill of playing live. Whether they knew that McGee would be attending or not remains unknown. However, it would appear that Sister Lovers took an educated guess and invited Oasis to King Tuts to give the Creation boss a surprise of his own.

In his autobiography, McGee remembered the evening: “People don’t like to believe in luck – they assume it’s too much of a coincidence, that Sony sent me to the gig on a tip, but I really thought I was just going to surprise my mate.”

McGee then recalls the moment he first set his eyes on the group: “I could hear all these Manc accents arguing. I looked over and saw Liam Gallagher for the first time. He looked amazing. A proper, Adidased-up mod. He had hair like a young Paul Weller. And I thought, ‘He’s got to be the drug dealer’. Because nobody in a band looks that good.”

Oasis were handed a four-song set, and by the end of the show, there was no changing McGee’s mind — he was signing them. “And then they played I Am The Walrus, which is one of the most occult songs ever,” he continued. “It was that song that made me absolutely certain I wanted to sign them, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence because years later I became fascinated by occult writing.”

While that night in Glasgow is steeped in legend and the story’s romanticism is unavoidable -even if McGee may have tinkered the tale for dramatic effect over the years – it takes nothing away from Oasis making history with a handful of songs and three chords. 

In truth, if Alan McGee didn’t snap them up that night, then somebody else would have done sooner or later, but the fit between Creation and Oasis was a match made in heaven.

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