Famous for his no-nonsense attitude and larger-than-life personality, Liam Gallagher deserves to be embraced as a national treasure. Ever since he emerged in the 90s, clad in a parka jacket with his arms slung behind his back as the iconic frontman for Oasis, the singer has stood out amid a sea of pop pretenders, stubbornly belting out anthemic rock choruses with throat-shredding emotion. Not only a fashion icon but also an irrepressible force of nature, Liam Gallagher’s wild off-stage behaviour has often grabbed as many headlines as his voice, but his timeless and era-defining songs leave little doubt as to why he’s often been lauded as the saviour of rock’n’roll. This is the story of how Liam Gallagher became one of the greatest rock stars of his era, and why he remains one of the best frontmen of all time.
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“I was just obsessed with being in a band”: early years and growing up
Born in Manchester on 21 September 1972, William John Paul Gallagher was more interested in football than he was in music while growing up. While sharing a bedroom with his guitar-playing older brother Noel, he was often exposed to bands such as The Jam and The Smiths, but it wasn’t until he was hit on the head with a hammer by a school bully at 15 years old that Liam realised his true calling. “From that day on… it was like as if something had fucking clicked,” he said. “I started hearing music, it started making sense.”
Pivotal to Liam’s epiphany was his discovery of The Stone Roses, whose frontman, Ian Brown, was a huge hero that inspired Liam to become a singer himself. “I was just obsessed with being in a band,” Liam admitted, citing The Beatles’ John Lennon and John Lydon of Sex Pistols as influencing his own singing style. After joining rhythm guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs in a group called The Rain – later re-named Oasis, upon Liam’s suggestion – Liam and the band started performing their own songs locally, which eventually caught the ear of his brother Noel. “I went down to see them and I remember being pretty impressed,” Noel Gallagher admitted.
Knowing his brother had ambitions to be a songwriter, Liam invited Noel to join the group, and thus began their journey from dole claimants to Britrock giants, thanks to a sound that, from their 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe, onwards, mixed Beatlesque melodies with punk-inspired edge. With songs such as Live Forever and Wonderwall, Oasis captured the British public’s imagination; though relatively unschooled as a singer, Liam had a natural charisma and raw power which was amplified by his incomparable stage presence. Swinging his arms around with the cocksure swagger of a mammoth hunter and the gob of a naughty schoolboy shouting his mouth off behind the bike sheds, Liam was a natural rock’n’roll icon who quickly became Britpop’s biggest superstar.