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Gary Barlow Biography

Last updated: 09/25/2011 12:00:00 PM

It was an important day in pop history when Gary Barlow and the three other members of Take That made the mutual and risky decision to disband what had become the biggest pop group of the decade. It was not one which was taken lightly, but one which the four members felt was the right one - it was time to move on for all of them. The reasons for the headline making split were made clear - the huge umbrella that was Take That meant that the lads had little time to develop as individuals and with the arrival of newer and younger boy bands on the "pop" scene the four simply felt that, as Gary famously said at the farewell press conference "The time had come."

Having already penned a string of hits while in Take That (Pray, A Million Love Songs, Babe, Everything Changes, Back For Good) it was clear from the start that Gary possessed the pedigree to ensure that his new solo career would be as successful as his last. During their five year reign at the top of the pop world Take That were to sell over 10 million albums worldwide and notched up an incredible eight UK No 1's, a good proportion of which were Gary's handiwork. Although respect for his songwriting was growing rapidly, it wasn't until the 1995 release of "Back For Good" that Gary was to become established as one of the most successful songwriter's of the decade. The single catapulted the group to an incredible four week stint at the top of the charts, and earned them their first top ten US entry.

Throughout the group's career Gary's songwriting became increasingly successful and this was highlighted in 1994 when he was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello award for "Best Contemporary Song" (for Pray) and the title "Songwriter Of The Year," joining a role call of honor with former title holders such as Elton John, George Michael, Annie Lennox and Eric Clapton. Two years on he was back, winning in two categories for his critically acclaimed ballad "Back For Good" (Best Song Musically and lyrically/The PRS Most Performed Work) and being nominated in a further two (The Best Selling Song/International Hit Of The Year). But even after the honor of being presented with such prestigious awards Gary remains humble. "These awards are voted on by only a few people in the record industry, and at the end of the day it's what the public think. They're the most important part of all of this."

Gary's come a long way in a career that began on Gary's tenth birthday when his parents bought him a keyboard instead of a BMX. Gary had exhausted its repertoire of noises within weeks and soon progressed to playing a 錺roper' home organ with foot-pedals. By the age of 12 he was playing weekends in the bar at a labor club in North Wales, and at 15 had written his first song. 16 saw him leave school and work as a musician and at 18 he had a life changing meeting with a certain Nigel Martin-Smith who had 刟n idea for a band." The rest as they say, is history.

Now that Gary is firmly on his way down the road of his solo career, and work on his debut album is complete, Gary reflects that "This has been another beginning. The first phase of my career was with Take That and this is the second. I love the risk factor, changes, taking chances."

It's been quite a wait for new material, especially as the world expected to hear the new album last June, but as Gary explains, choosing to put things back was a choice he was happy to make. "By last June, I'd almost finished my album and went off to L.A. to do a gig. I met the head of Arista, Clive Davis, there who not only assured me he wanted to keep me on as a solo artist, but offered me the chance to work with almost whoever I wanted. "Teaming up with luminaries David Foster and Diane Warren (who penned Toni Braxton's huge hit "Unbreak My Heart") opened a whole new set of doors for Gary, and he made the brave decision to re-record the album. It's ten times better than the stuff I'd done, so I'm glad I delayed it."

Barlow's first U.S. single "So Help Me Girl" is being released in August and the long awaited debut album "Open Road" is scheduled for release on September 30th. The title suggests the open road that Gary's again at the start of. "I'm standing in front of what will hopefully be a very long career, and I could take any one of many directions." The album promises to fulfill it's potential, and Gary says "is a lyrical progression from Take That. This is the most positive and optimistic music that I have written - it's more about having things than losing them." The album shows a diversity of musical styles, some acoustic based tracks, ballads and up-tempo numbers. It will mark a distinct change of direction for Gary, almost a "back to basics" approach, and clearly shows a maturity and depth of feeling beyond his years.

The future is an interesting one for Gary, he will stand on his own and will no doubt feel lonely without his friends around him, but at the same time it's a challenge he's eager to rise to. "I think audiences have missed seeing me perform on my own, no other band members, no other instruments, just a piano and a vocal. It's that raw performance that is what it's all about for me." Singing, playing the piano and songwriting have never come hard to him and it is in the area that his track record speaks for itself. And it's this that he craves - ask him about the thought of giving up what he loves so much and he'll tell you "I'd crave not being able to play a keyboard, but I think I can honestly say I wouldn't miss the hysteria."

Time will tell what the future holds for Gary, but in the meantime he is looking forward to completing the album, rehearsing a live band, cracking America and maybe even seeing his dogs again, because the simple things are what life is all about.