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It came out of nowhere. It changed the course of pop music. It was Wannabe - the scrappily brilliant debut single by The Spice Girls. The record label had been worried. Wannabe was too weird, too anarchic.
They hated the video. BBC Radio 1 was refusing to play it. But the girls knew better. And "if they decided they wanted to do something, then that's what was going to happen," Wannabe's co-writer Richard "Biff" Stannard told the BBC. Here's a story from A to Z of how the band started, rose to fame, fell apart and put themselves back together again.
So grab a cup of tea, slam your body down, wind it all around, and we'll begin. On 4 Marchaspiring singers crammed into London's Dancework Studios after spotting an advert for a new girl band in The Stage newspaper. They were split into groups of 10 and taught a dance a routine to Eternal's Stay. Afterwards, they each performed a solo song to father-and-son management team Bob and Chris Herbert.
A month later, they were invited back for a second audition - now with only 10 girls. Geri was there too, even though she had skipped the initial audition after getting sunburnt in Spain. All four were selected to form the band alongside year-old Michelle Stephenson - "the sort of girl you can imagine in a Flake advert", said Victoria - who had received the highest scores at the audition. The quintet moved in to a house in Maidenhead, where they received dance and vocal coaching, but it soon became clear Michelle didn't fit in.
Eventually, Michelle was replaced by Emma Bunton - a former stage school pupil who had been recommended by their vocal tutor, Pepi Lemer. It wasn't my kind of music and they were not living the lifestyle I wanted.
After months of rehearsals, the five girls grew disillusioned with Bob and Chris Herbert, and decided to extricate themselves. They hadn't ed a contract - but their managers did have the master recording of their songs Wannabe and 2 Become 1. So Geri hatched a plan to retrieve the recordings and make off with them. Working from the back of Geri's beaten-up Fiat Uno, the band started building a new team, eventually ing with Annie Lennox's manager Simon Fuller.
He immediately put them in the studio, and started introducing them to record labels. He called his bosses and told them: "You have to see this. On the day they were due to to the label, the band sent five Ann Summers blow-up dolls in their place, with a chauffeur instructed to announce that the Spice Girls had arrived. Later, after they actually turned up and ed their contracts, the band threw the dolls into the Grand Union Canal, where they bobbed about for days. Although Virgin was sceptical of Wannabe's potential, it was an instant smash, selling 73, copies in its first week.
Hoping it would go to one, the band crowded around a radio on a picnic rug in Geri's sister's garden, champagne at the ready, as the countdown was revealed. But their hopes were dashed: Wannabe entered the charts at three, held at bay Gary Barlow's Forever Love his first solo one and the Fugees' Killing Me Softly. However, the following week it climbed to the top spot, becoming the first of six consecutive ones for the band. The original demo for Wannabe is being released to mark the song's 25th anniversary - and its very different experience to the final version, full of record scratches, clunky s synths and a bizarre breakbeat outro.
And then we just sewed it together. Kind of a cut-and-paste method. The result, according to Halliwell, "was bloody awful". Eventually, Mark "Spike" Stent - a producer who had worked with Massive Attack and Madonna - was called in to knock the song into shape.
It was quite tough to do, even though it only took six hours. The Spice Girls have always had a loyal LGBTQ following, and even changed the lyrics to one of their biggest hits to recognise their support. The Spice Girls were the prototypical manufactured band - and when they were first put together, they couldn't help sizing each other up.
Emma, Victoria and Mel C all declared Geri a "complete nutter", recalling: "She had her hair in bunches and was wearing a pink fluffy jumper and saying, 'Look, look - I'm a duck! Geri, meanwhile, "couldn't stop staring at Emma - she was really fresh and pretty with a big smile like a doll's".
Girl Power came in for a lot of stick - mostly from critics who weren't girls and didn't need any more power, music writer Tom Ewing observed. Geri was the one who pushed the concept, and even developed a "power oath" to be recited when events demanded: " I, being of sound mind and new Wonderbra do solemnly promise to cheer and dance and zig-a-zig-ah. Girl Power! But even if the parameters were a little hazy, the idea was potent. The Spice Girls stood for freedom, self-belief and disobedience - and they inspired generations to stick up for themselves.
InGeri reflected on the legacy of Girl Power in a BBC interview : "Twenty years ago, if you said the word feminism, you thought of those bra-burning, marching protestors.
It was quite tough and harsh. But actually, Girl Power embodies much more than a gender. It's about everybody. Everybody deserves the same treatment, whatever race you are, gender you are, age you are. As the Spice Girls became a global phenomenon, they were whisked away from their friends and family for months at a time. For tax reasons, they even spent living outside the UK, which exacerbated their feelings of isolation.
EastEnders on the TV in the background and then my dad came in from the chip shop with everybody's dinner. I was here on my own. But I don't want to be strong any more. I just want to sit down and cry… and have someone stand in front of me with their shield and say, 'I'll protect you'. The Spice Girls performed their first ever concert at an 8,capacity basketball arena in Istanbul, Turkey, on 12 October Why Turkey?
One popular theory said they had chosen it to get as far away from the UK as possible, afraid the British press would savage their stage debut. But the reality was more prosaic. Pepsi was sponsoring the tour, and they insisted on launching it in a country where Pepsi outsold Coca-Cola. The soft drink deal was hammered home at a press conference the day before the show. The concert itself was "the sort of pop show they don't do any more", said The Guardian, full of pyrotechnics, slick choreography, and even a miniature roller coaster.
And yes, the review added, "they really sang". The Sun was more cautious, calling the gig "competent and capable" with "plenty of room for improvement". Part of the Spice Girls' appeal was their absolute refusal to play along with the media. Interviewing the band was like being dragged into a Top Shop dressing room by a hen party on its third day.
They suffered no fools, and took no prisoners. They brought everyone around them to their level," their PR Nicki Chapman once said. For example: When the Spices announced their first reunion tour inone hapless journalist asked if the band were "unfit to do the dance routines" after having children. But the absolute gold standard, wheels-falling-off-and-car-crashing-into-a-ditch Spice Girls interview was conducted by Jamie Theakston in Luckily, someone's put it on YouTube. He was also the brother of the Spice Girls' manager Simon - which is how he ended up writing a script for the band's first and so far only feature film, Spice World: The Movie.
I think it was about a young single mother of one of the girls, fighting hardship to form the band. The girls hated the idea, so Kim asked if he could have a shot. The story, such as it is, involves the band preparing for a concert, while dealing with unscrupulous journalists, space aliens and bomb on a bus that mysteriously vanishes. Frankly, I think we did. Pop stars were often cautious about sponsorship deals. But the Spice Girls had no such qualms.
Modern pop artists, starved of income by the economics of streaming, often subsidise their careers by following the Spice Girls' example - but for Simon Fuller, it wasn't about the money. They're no good at maths. The rest were pretty easy really because the girls' characters were already really strong. Jennifer Cawthron, who was also from Leeds, came up with that one because Mel B was so loud and had tried to take over our whole photo shoot.
Bythe band were already coming up with replacements. In private, though, Geri called Mel B The Ox "because I could operate perfectly on the most outrageous hangover - or even do a full performance faultlessly after several bottles of champagne - while she would be throwing up in the loo. The last time all five Spice Girls performed together was at the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games in The band emerged from, then stood astride, five London black cabs, as they played Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life to rapturous applause.
According to Mel C, they had rehearsed the performance for a week and a half but were still absolutely petrified. Victoria even had a panic attack inside one of the taxis and almost refused to come out. That's how you know a real friend. In fact, shambolic is more like it. But it went perfectly. The Spice Girls' world tour saw them play to 2. In the midst of it all, both Melanie B and Victoria Beckham became pregnant - and went to great lengths to hide it from their crew and fans.SpiceGirls Greatest Hits Full Album - Best Songs Of SpiceGirls Playlist
Nobody knew why and we'd have to say, 'We're just getting fat'," Mel B disclosed in the tour retrospective, Forever Spice. Then it got ridiculous because I'd have to have a plastic cup in my room to wee in. I needed to wee three or four times during the show and the toilets were miles away.
Officially, the explanation was that she was suffering from exhaustion. But in her autobiography If Only, the singer said she'd been frustrated that the band had prevented her from giving a TV interview about surviving breast cancer in her teens. This was about saving lives," she wrote. Ginger Spice was no more.
And for Victoria, "there was one big plus - for the first time ever, I got to sing on Wannabe". Relationships were strained for several years, but the band eventually kissed and made up. Geri even apologised for quitting on the final date of the band's reunion tour. I was just being a brat. It is so good to be back with the girls that I love.
According to a definitely-not-made-up story in The Sun ina teenage Prince William was so besotted with the Spice Girls that he tore down his Pamela Anderson poster and replaced it with one of Emma Bunton. He later popped into the Windsor branch of Our Price and bought a copy of their debut album using a bank note with his grandmother's face on it. It was at that same show where Geri reportedly squeezed the buttocks of the future King of England.
Why am I going to stop at the prince? Their first appearance came on an episode of Cilla Black's Surprise Surprise, a booking they secured by "cornering the show's producer in a toilet and zapping her with an a capella version of Wannabe," Victoria later recalled. They were folded into a segment where a teenage girl called Sally had won the opportunity to present a show on Manchester radio station, Keyand interview a famous band.
She managed to hide her disappointment that it wasn't Boyzone. Current affairs magazine The Spectator was the least likely place to find the Spice Girls inbut when Simon Sebag Montefiore bagged an interview with the quintet, he certainly got his money's worth. It made headlines everywhere. Ever the diplomat, Geri later walked back her comments. I just admire people with ideals," she wrote in the official Spice Girls book, Girl Power.
Dominating the front s after the Brit Awards, Geri's most iconic outfit was originally supposed to be a simple black cocktail dress. The star sold the outfit - which had a CND flag on the back - in to raise money for breast cancer charities. No, not the short-lived Spice Girls musical the less said about that the better but the band's eighth single, and the first to be released after Geri left.
The stop-motion video, created by Aardman Animation, had been commissioned five months earlier but its message was eerily prescient. The couple dated for six years, and Mark popped the question injust after her Spice Girls audition.Spicy girl wanted
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The Spice Girls at Here's the story from A to Z