Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams: Bitter Take That feud allegedly riddled with jealousy and illness
Whatever they said, whatever they did, they didn’t mean it. But do they want each other back for good?
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Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams were two of the most recognisable names from 90s boy band Take That. The group, made up of five musicians, soon became a household name after their debut track – but the two most notable members had a bitter feud that led to their downfall.
The band’s lead singer was Gary, now 52, from Manchester. However, Robbie, 49, from Stoke, had ambitions to make it as a solo artist – which he has since achieved.
The bitter feud between Gary and Robbie was allegedly riddled with jealousy, tears and illness. Ultimately, the bad feeling led to Robbie quitting the band and heartbreak among the other band members.
The break-up was not all bad for Robbie as he later found success as a solo artist with UK number one hit Angels. He is also known for his songs Let Me Entertain You, Rock DJ and Kids featuring Kylie Minogue.
Robbie’s last Take That appearance
The band released their chart-topping single Back for Good in 1995, a song that Gary claims took him only fifteen minutes to write. This became the last music video to feature Robbie Williams before he left the band.
Robbie says he was “forced to quit” Take That
Robbie left Take That in 1995, but the star said that the circumstances at the time meant that he was “forced to quit” the band. The move left fans and band member Mark Owen heartbroken over the decision.
The Angels singer was reportedly asked to leave the band after he failed to show up to rehearsals and instead chose to dance up a storm with Liam Gallagher.
Speaking about leaving Take That, Robbie said: "I was a pathetic, pitiful creature. The first thing I would do in the morning would be to empty the bottle of wine that I had fallen asleep over two hours earlier. I'd have taken a line of coke because I couldn't get up without it."
Robbie criticises Gary and Take That as “mentally unstable morons”
After quitting the band, Robbie didn’t shy away from having his true feelings heard. He claimed to have hated the music the band made, and his criticisms included that of frontman Gary, as he branded him a “clueless ******”.
He also criticised the group, saying they had “all the creativity of mentally unstable morons”. Robbie, aged 21 at the time, said: “I hated our music and in the end I hated myself.”
Gary suggests Robbie was jealous of earning more money him
After Robbie left, Take That split up a year later. Gary himself embarked on a hugely successful solo career which earned him a reported £6.5million fortune.
Having earned most of his money from songwriting royalties, Gary accused Robbie of being jealous of his success. He said: "I do wonder if that’s the source of his [Robbie's] feelings because I probably made six times more than they did."
Robbie finds success with Angels
While Gary was first to lap up success in his solo career, Robbie turned the tables by releasing Angels in 1997. The song became a huge number one UK hit and Robbie rose to fame.
As a result of the hit single, Robbie won three BRIT Awards and sold six million records. Robbie was finally seeing the success he wanted after leaving the band.
Meanwhile, Gary’s career had started to dwindle, as he was forced to cancel a show at Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre because of ticketing issues. Gary’s second album was poorly received, charting at number 35 – in the end, the singer was dropped by his record label.
The results led to Gary saying that Robbie was “the winner, hands down”. He said: "I can imagine the chat they’ll be having in Robbie-land tonight. The cheers, wolf whistles and belly laughs. There’s no question now, mate, you’re the winner, hands down.”
Robbie warned not to throw away his success with drink and drugs
Robbie was warned by his friends not to throw away his success with drink and drugs as the pop star battled with fame. The Rock DJ singer said: “Throw it all away? And see that fat **** Barlow dance on my grave? No way.”
The singer said that he “wanted to crush” Gary and his “memory of the band”. He said: “My problem has always been with Gary. It was always with Gary.
“I wanted to crush him. I wanted to crush the memory of the band - and I didn't let go. You know, even when he was down, I didn't let go.”
Gary shunned away from the limelight after his dwindling career, which led to him developing a serious eating disorder. The singer was trapped in a cycle of binge-eating and bulimia as he reached 17st, but didn’t care – adding that “being sick was a punishment”.
He said: "In some ways it sort of needed to happen. I had that ridiculous nineties period where the ego was just getting bigger and you just think, ‘There’s only one way back from this and it was down'.
"Simply because it was a really humiliating thing that happened. I’d been in this band, it all ends, you get dropped, one of your band members goes on to be stratospheric, you’re just the loser.
"There’s like a big ‘L’ wherever you look, all over your body, you’re just a loser. I just didn’t want to be me. I just hated myself at that point.”
Gary added: "Being sick was a punishment for me. I didn’t want to mend it. Bizarrely, I wasn't unhappy doing it. It was good that it hurt."
I want you back for good
After feuding for most of their careers up until that point, Gary invited Robbie to have a discussion over it. In 2018, Gary said: “Living with that kind of feud isn’t right. The chat was like an exorcism.
“Rob felt that for the last year of Take That, he was crying out to every one of us. In the end, he left and we handled that badly.
“We let him leave the fold and no one looked after him. Robbie was barely 21. What happened between me and Rob always bothered me.”
Robbie rejoined the band in 2010. While Take That performed at the King’s Coronation Concert on Sunday, Robbie was absent from the stage. Take That recently took to social media to post a video of all five original members, including Robbie, along with a caption that said “we will have fun like this again”.