Some of Oasis’ stories are etched into the annals of history, and they’re some of the most raucous and debauched rock and roll shenanigans in recent times. That said, some Oasis tales live longer in the memory than others, and their now-iconic run-in with the ferry masters of old is one of our all-time favourites rock stories we’ve ever heard.
Oasis were always one of those bands who seemed to find trouble wherever they go. From their inception in the early 1990s, through their most chaotic days and up until they split in 2009, the Gallaghers and their entourage were always in some form of bother or another. Their first European tour would be just another spot for them to let loose. And boy, did they.
In 1994, as the group were embarking on their first European tour, there must’ve been a lot of worry rolling around the office of Alan McGee. The leading man of Creation Records had signed Oasis based on their music and their unstoppable snarling attitude—but even he must’ve thought they would at least make it to the continent before trouble erupted. He was dead wrong because Oasis could start a fight in an empty room.
In a clip from their 2016 film Supersonic, the band, along with a few notable members of their crew and entourage, offer up a retrospective on what could’ve been a disastrous moment for the Britpop legends. Boarding a Thursday night ferry to Amsterdam is always a little, shall we say ‘dodgy’, but this night was particularly rowdy.
With football fans bunched up together as they made their way to different matches, tensions were running high, and the chances of a scuffle increased dramatically. Add to that a lot of booze, a casino, a nightclub and the inescapable boat, and you have all the makings of a disastrous recipe for an explosive cocktail that we’d all much rather avoid.
Though Liam Gallagher admits he doesn’t remember exactly how he got on the ferry as he was already incredibly drunk, the real trouble began with a curious cocktail for the entourage: “The drink of choice for a few hours was Champagne and Jack Daniels (during the trip),” producer Mark Coyle recalls in the clip with a sickly smile. Funnily enough, the mixture of champers and whiskey put the scenario off-kilter, and soon after, that things go a little awry.
“The next thing, sporadic fighting is breaking out all around us and Liam got very excited by the prospect of a lot of chaos going on, and he goes and joins in,” Coyle continues in his Northern drawl. “You can see him running through the windows along the deck. He’s having a great time. It looks like he’s in a school playground chasing leaves. The next time I see Liam, he’s still running up. He’s got policemen running after him.”
While it feels all very rock and roll, Gallagher offers a slightly different, more comical view: “As the fight broke out all I remember was it was a bit Benny Hill.” The image of Liam Gallagher, as is mentioned in the video, running through the casino and throwing chips in the air is one we will hold dear to our imagined hearts for a very long time: “It was fucking mayhem man, I loved it. It was punk rock man.”
While punk rock is all well and good, getting nicked by the police isn’t quite as fun. The four members of the band were marched down to the bottom of the boat in handcuffs leaving one member of the group, Noel, to do some serious explaining to both the police and their manager. In the clip, Noel reflects on the incident back in the office, predicting trouble, Alan McGee.
“I called (Alan) McGee, and I’ll never forget this, and this is another reason why I love McGee, I said: ‘Are you sitting down? I’ve got some news; everybody has been arrested’. The only word he said was (adopts Scottish accent) ‘brilliant’.” After all, this is why McGee signed them first of all, and he knew that record sales and ticket sales would follow the story being broken.
The band were quickly deported back to Britain before they ever set foot on European soil. While their first overseas gig would not go ahead, stories like this would take the band from hot new thing to the rock and roll real deal, adding a multitude of stories along the way.