For Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, The Beatles were one of the most important bands on the planet. The songwriting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison was instrumental in forming Oasis’ pioneering yet distinctly nostalgic brand of Britpop, the success of which was partly to do with its reimagining of classic British pop songwriting. Fusing the song structures of groups like The Beatles and The Kinks with a punk-era attitude, Oasis tapped into the cultural psyche of the nation in a way that few bands have achieved since
From the off, Oasis drew comparisons to The Beatles. Often, Noel embraced this flattery with open arms, once claiming that the group were “bigger” than The Beatles, just as The Beatles had once declared that they were “bigger” than Jesus. Noel’s brother Liam shared this sentiment. As recently as 2016, the frontman said: “What [Oasis] did in three [years] took the Beatles eight”.
Around that time, Noel reiterated his adoration of The Beatles, describing how they lay the foundation for half a century of music-making in the UK. “They influenced everybody who influenced everybody else, who influenced everybody that came and went,” Gallagher said. “Their influence is absolute. I don’t know a single guy playing the guitar or writing songs that wouldn’t cite the Beatles as an influence.”
When the Beatles rose to fame in the mid-1990s, Noel was lucky enough to bump into Beatles guitarist George Harrison at a party. Talking to Rolling Stone, Gallagher recalled: “I was invited to a bonfire party, and it happened to be on the property that backed up into George’s house. So I’m sitting on a log and this guy with a beard and a denim jacket comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, you want a Heineken?’ I was like, ‘F*cking hell!’ We talked about Carl Perkins, and I told him he was my favourite guitar player”.
Liam, on the other hand, had a far less chummy relationship with Harrison. After the former Beatle accused Oasis of lacking depth and called Liam’s antics “silly”, Liam lashed out. In an MTV interview, the frontman said: “If any of them old farts have got a problem with me, then they should leave their Zimmer frames at home and I’ll hold them up with a good right hook,” he said, later accusing Harrison of being jealous.
He then added: “I still love The Beatles and I still love George Harrison as a songwriter in The Beatles, but as a person I think he’s a fcking nipple,” he said. “And if I ever meet him I’ll fcking tell him.”