When Oasis first appeared on our television screens they did so with little to nothing known about the band outside of Manchester. Their new style of swaggering rock ‘n’ roll, which would later get the title of Britpop, had seen the band become an underground success but now they were going to be beamed across the nation, they were going mainstream, and it’s a big break that everyone wants to take credit for.
Having started in 1991 as the Rain, the band’s lead singer Liam Gallagher was joined by his brother Noel as he returned to Manchester. They formed the core of the group and found success when they were picked up by Alan McGee’s Creation Records in 1993. In the spring of 1994, the pace of their hype-train was increasing and soon enough there was one band on the lips of every music aficionado in the know and it was Oasis.
So with a decent bit of buzz surrounding the band, their debut album Definitely Maybe due out later in the year, McGee was keen to make sure Oasis were front and centre. In 1994 there was only one way to grab the attention of the ‘youth’ – television – and in ’94 there was only one show for new and prospering bands: The Word.
The show was a magazine-style late-night show filled with the best bands, quality interviews, and maggot-eating ‘hopefuls’ (a segment that allowed audience members to ‘o anything to get on TV’). Hosted by Terry Christian it offered a younger generation a taste of the subverted sub-culture of 90s Britain.
In an interview with The Observer, Christian revealed that while the Oasis performance will go down in history as the beginning of a media dynasty for the band, it’s a performance which, if not for Christian, would never have happened. “Since Oasis made their first television appearance, on Channel 4’s The Word on 18 March 1994, everyone from the series editor and music booker to the cleaning lady has tried to take the credit – when, of course, it was really all down to me, me, me!”
Christian shared that his and Noel’s girlfriend both worked at the same promo company in Manchester called Red Alert, something Noel used to his advantage. “I’d already had Noel pestering me on nights out in Manchester to get his band on the show when their debut single came out. I’d loved the promo and the live demo tape I’d heard, but the only times I’d seen them live they hadn’t impressed, especially at the Hop & Grape bar at Manchester University, where Liam was so shy he sang the whole set with his back to the audience.”
Noel clearly got his way as Christian managed to negotiate his producer Paul Ross and music lead Ed Forsyke’s dislike for any band north of Watford. He found a spot for the band to perform their debut single ‘Supersonic’ three weeks before its release date. Christian was to have his hunch on the band proved right almost instantly: “They arrived accompanied by a scallyish entourage of crew plus assorted mates from Manchester. During rehearsal, it was heartening to see that Liam Gallagher, far from being shy and retiring, was cheekily chatting up all the female dancers as if he was already a huge star. On the night itself, they sounded fantastic, with the show’s main guest, Bob Geldof, saying how good he thought the band were.”
It was clear that far from being the shy and retiring band Christian had seen in the early days that Oasis had turned a corner and were setting foot on the road to becoming the rock ‘n’ roll stars we know them as today. This attitude continued at the after-show party which included Noel taking the mickey out of every Londoner he could while Liam casually walked around the bar with a swagger he would develop into an art form. Liam’s antics didn’t stop there as the cheeky chappy act clearly resonated with a few of the party’s guests. “As it was the last show, most of the maggot-eating Hopefuls who’d been on that series had come down for the after-show, and one of the girls made a beeline for Liam. He then took her back to the band’s studio where they were staying that night (no hotels in their rock’n’roll lifestyle then) to do the business.”
So, yes, this was the making of Oasis. This TV performance was the beginning of the legend of the band from Manchester with enough attitude to sink a Britpop battleship. As Christian says: “So that was Oasis: pushed themselves on to TV by pestering, great performance on the night, everyone got trashed, and the lead singer banged a Hopeful.” – A rock ‘n’ roll tale as old as time.
Watch Oasis’ debut television performance on The Word in 1994 as they play ‘Supersonic’ and write their names in the history books.
Source: Radio X