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Robbie Williams reveals desire to make documentary on detrimental impact of fame

Robbie Williams (Apple/PA)
Robbie Williams (Apple/PA)

Robbie Williams has said he wants to make a documentary about “what really happens” to bands that are catapulted into the spotlight and experience the height of fame.

Williams, whose departure from Take That in 1995 led to their initial separation, overtook Elvis Presley last month to become the solo artist with the most UK number one albums.

The singer-songwriter, 48, secured his 14th chart-topping record with XXV, which also marked the 25th anniversary of his solo career.

Robbie Williams and Zane Lowe
Zane Lowe and Robbie Williams (Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1/PA)

Speaking at the ground of football team Port Vale in his home city of Stoke-on-Trent, Williams told Zane Lowe on his Apple Music 1 podcast: “If you run through every boy band and girl band that’s ever existed.

“With Take That, Gary Barlow leaves the band, his career’s supposed to do that and it didn’t. He suffered with bulimia, didn’t leave his house, went to sleep underneath his piano because he’d forgotten how to write songs.

“Incredibly depressed. Changed his name on his credit card because he didn’t want people to see Barlow.

“Howard Donald wanted to commit suicide after he left Take That. Mark Owen’s been to rehab and Jason Orange just can’t do it. And then there’s me, the mental health, the rehabs, the addiction, there’s all of that.

“So that’s what being in a boy band really does. And I’m sure that in five or 10 years’ time if you sit down with One Direction to a man, they’re all going to have their isms that have been caused by this machine.

“I want to do a documentary about it. Maybe we should do it together. About boy bands and girl bands and what really happens. Why fame does that to you.”

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks (Ian West/PA)

The pop superstar said the only two people he thinks fame has not impacted are Tom Hanks and Noel Gallagher.

He said: “I play this game, that who has got through that (fame), come through the other side and gone, ‘I enjoyed every bit about it, and I’m totally mentally really well and I’m happy to continue. Let’s do more of it’.

“Do you know, here’s the thing. The first person that jumps to my head is Tom Hanks. But, we don’t know the real Tom Hanks. So we don’t know what went on with his life.

“The other one who I think … Noel Gallagher seems to have handled extreme fame really, really well. They still achieved what they achieved, and he’s still Noel Gallagher.”

The Let Me Entertain You singer explained how he was a “huge fan” of Oasis.

Oasis (PA)

He said: “It’s part of that competitive nature of me too. And also they were gigantic bullies too, to the whole industry, everybody in it. And I didn’t like that. And a lot of that still remains inside me.

“They’re probably different people now but there’s a lot of me that’s like, ‘They’re f***ing bullies, them. I don’t like bullies.’ But Liam looks as though he’s changed. He’s doing fine. And he’s rocking it.

“The great thing about being a fan of Oasis is when Liam comes out with a great album, I can be a fan. The great thing about being resentful towards them is when they don’t, I’m happy. I win on both sides.

“It’s so genuine, Liam’s last album that he put out, there’s like five or six tracks on there that are just like… I’m so glad he exists. And I’m so glad that he is a personality out there that’s vital, because there’s not many of them about.

“And especially in this day and age where pop stars can’t say and do and be personalities, it’s fantastic that there’s a Liam Gallagher in the world.”

Teenage Cancer Trust Concert 2019 – London
Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald of Take That perform (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Williams wanting to make a documentary comes after it was announced Take That, featuring Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen, will headline the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park next summer.

The popular boy band, who split in 1996, opted to get back together for a reunion tour in 2006 following the premiere of a Take That documentary in late 2005.

Williams said: “What I think it is when a boy band or a girl band gets to a certain place or a certain stature, because there’s lots that fell by the wayside and can’t come back and, God bless them, for having that sort of being at the top of the mountain at such an early age and then they have to go away and figure out how to live.

“But what I think it is with the Spice Girls, One Direction, Take That, NSYNC, New Kids On The Block, all of those people that reach that place, it’s their, the fans’ football team.

“So it’s Liverpool or it’s Manchester United. Do you know what I mean? And you just never stop supporting Liverpool. It gets etched in. So it’s like a young girl’s, primarily, football team.”