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Authors: Paolo Hewitt

Getting High

BOOK: Getting High
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Paolo Hewitt
Getting High
THE ADVENTURES OF OASIS

Between 1994 and 1996, music writer Paolo Hewitt spent the greater part of his life on the road with Oasis, in the U.K., Europe and America. He came back with tales that would cement the legend of the brawling, effing, hedonistic, charismatic, confessional and extraordinarily talented Gallagher brothers, Noel and Liam, and their group.

Hewitt is a rare and perceptive fly-on-the-wall during the band's hectic rise to the height of their powers, as their first two albums are released to the kind of excitement scarcely seen in British rock music since the sixties.

Hewitt takes the Gallaghers' story right back to their parents' roots in Ireland, and the descriptions of Noel and Liam's childhoods in working-class Manchester reveal the seeds of their determination to make Oasis the force it became.

Getting High
is an illuminating, funny, sometimes shocking reminder of how big a band can get, and how quickly the insanity sets in. Oasis have today sold in excess of 70 million records worldwide. Hewitt's intimate account of this explosive and beloved band, in their prime, is a rock classic and a riveting narrative.

 

Praise for
Getting High

‘Paolo is the only person to speak about what it was like on the road with us because he's been there. He's been there, he's seen it, he's done it.'
NOEL GALLAGHER

‘Top read.'
MELODY MAKER

‘Unlimited access to all areas of the Oasis bandwagon is the ace up this biography's sleeve.'
Q

‘10/10 – sometimes you get what you pay for.'
ESQUIRE

‘By adopting a fly-on-the-wall approach and writing Oasis's story as though it were a novel rather than a straight biography, he succeeds in entertaining, informing and occasionally putting you inside the head of the Gallagher brothers.'
HOT PRESS

‘In
Getting High
we get closer to the real Oasis, not the tabloid fancies, the music press stereotypes of Noel the genius, Liam the wanker and three other blokes who don't count. Hewitt paints an engrossing and uplifting portrait of one of the most important bands of the decade.'
THE WORD AND ISSUE

‘
Getting High
is refreshingly well written'
TOTAL GUITAR

‘Compelling drama'
MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS

‘If you only buy one book about Oasis, then make sure it's this one.'
FHM

‘This well-researched tome chronicles many a pivotal moment in Oasis's history and is filled with plenty of ribald anecdotes.'
NME

‘Head and shoulders above every other Oasis book. I hated finishing it so much I read it again.'
IRVINE WELSH

This book is dedicated to my mother Maria Supino (1921-1995), and to battered and suffering children everywhere. May music one day help to let you see the light.

Foreword

Began in 1994. Saw Oasis play the Kentish Town Forum on the Tuesday, and then The Astoria on the Thursday. After the latter, met Noel briefly at a backstage party. Months later, a call comes in. Do I want to go over and hang out with him at the Fulham flat he was renting, landlord one Johnny Marr?

Noel and I had much in common – music, football, a certain attitude to life. To be honest I suspected we would hit it off. I had previously read a quote of Noel's in
ID
 in which he stated that he knew he was going to end up broke but as long as his name went down with Townshend, Lennon, Marriott and Davies, he would be happy. Absolute bullshit but I am a sucker for such romantic notions. Always have been. 

Plus, I was lucky. It was such a great time to hook up with the band. Oasis were on the way up when I caught up with them, and there is no more exciting time for a group. Everything you have dreamed of gets magically turned into reality. To your absolute amazement, respect, money, girls, drugs – all that you want pours in. And unlike other bands, Oasis told the world. No hiding their nocturnal activities with this group.  

Oasis had cast themselves in the classic rock tradition of outsiders, of being rebels. Liam was the holder of that flame. Noel's job was to provide music that burnt with speed and excitement.

The combination was fresh and dangerous, unique. In the 80s I found my thrills in mainly American black music, specifically hip hop and Acid House. As far as I was concerned, rock music back then was pretty much nowheresville. But Oasis changed that for me. They grabbed me by the neck and forcibly reminded me of the power in a band, a band that acted and looked like a gang, a band that would stand motionless on stage whilst creating this huge ocean of sound. Noel's guitar was thick and loud and perfectly complemented Liam's unique vocal style

In interviews, they took a no-holds-barred approach, quarrelling in front of journos who could not believe their luck, Noel and Liam both showing great flashes of humour in between being inspired, funny, stupid, arrogant and provocative. 

A band had not announced themselves in such a brash and brilliant manner for years and years.

It was the band's second album
What's The Story (Morning Glory)
that broke them worldwide. As Noel once told me, they thought they were going to be as big as the Stone Roses. To their huge shock and amazement, they went a hundred times better than that. And then some. 

For me, it all culminated with the two days at Knebworth. A quarter of a million people came from every point of the country to celebrate this unique band, to give their shout of approval. 

I wish then – as I wish now – that Oasis had ended it right there and then, really gone down in history. But of course it was too much of a brilliant roller coaster ride to let go of at that point. 

In the year of Knebworth, I locked myself away in January to write this book and did not emerge until October, apart from the aforementioned festival and a week off in July.

The rest of the time I fully focussed on the job in hand. I would not take this assignment lightly. Oasis deserved a big biography and on a personal note I needed to prove I was up to the job.

This was my first important book and I am still grateful to the boys for giving me the chance in the first place. It was an amazing time and I hope this book captures some of that spirit. The time of
Loaded
, the
Fast Show
, the time of Britpop, the time of cocaine and Jack Daniels, the time of fun and adventure, the time, in fact, of Oasis.

PAOLO HEWITT, AUTUMN, LONDON 2014

 

‘I wish it would last forever but as long as I am able to sit with a guitar on me lap, not even to sing to people but just to sing to myself, then I'll be all right.

‘'Cos sometimes when I'm in a bad mood I just go and lock myself into a room and just sing, just let off. So long as I've got that power then I'm the luckiest man in the world, because some people go out and shoot people ‘cos they feel that way. But not me. I pick up my guitar and sing, “Dirty Old Town”'.

NOEL GALLAGHER, 25 MAY 1996

‘It'll last as long as people keep their heads together. After six albums, which is what the deal was, once we do six albums – well, if we do six albums we're lucky – but as soon as six albums is up, then I'm off.'

LIAM GALLAGHER, 12 AUGUST 1996

Intro

Always at it. Always. The pair of them. Noel and Liam, Liam and Noel. The Gallagher brothers. Will it ever stop, this struggle for control? Probably not. Probably never. Tonight, of course, is no exception.

It is Friday 8 September 1995, and the whole country is still sweating on an inordinately hot summer. The days of late have been sticky, unbearable even, but the nights bring a warm calming breeze.

As London slowly cools down that evening, Noel Gallagher sits in the reception room of the Maison Rouge Studios in Fulham. Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's football ground, is a few hundred yards down the road.

On the table in front of him is a plate of Chinese food that he is eagerly digging into. The clock on the wall reads eight-thirty and there are three women sitting with Noel. They are his girlfriend, Meg Matthews, and her friends, Fran and Jess, and they too are eating.

Noel has known them all for about a year, ever since, in fact, he moved down to London and started seeing Meg. Above them the TV is on but the sound is down.

In the studio nearby, the producer, Owen Morris, is busy, mixing two new Oasis songs. They are called ‘Round Are Way' and ‘The Masterplan'. Noel has written the latter just two weeks ago and he plans to present both songs on Oasis's forthcoming single, ‘Wonderwall'.

Noel is the band's leader, the songwriter. Nothing happens to Oasis without his say-so. His nickname within Oasis is ‘The Chief', and his grip on the group is hard, tight, unshakeable.

Suddenly, literally out of nowhere, the man who has claim to the title of most charismatic frontman of the decade is looming over everyone at the table. His entrance has been so swift, so unconsciously dramatic, that everyone is taken by surprise. But before they can react, Liam Gallagher has kicked off.

‘What the fuck do you think you're doing?'

The singer knows everyone at the table but he doesn't acknowledge any of them. He just stands there his eyes burning into Noel's face.

‘I said, what the fuck do you think you're doing?'

Liam is wearing a bulky red and blue Adidas coat, tightly zipped up, as usual, to his neck. Beneath that are pale blue baggy jeans that bunch up by his ankles, and white trainers that halt their progress.

His brown hair is brushed forward and his eyes challenge his brother for a satisfactory answer. There is sweat on his forehead.

Behind Liam, uncomfortably lurking by the doorway, there is a girl. She is tall, skinny with long, shiny black hair and a pale thin sexy face. She stands staring at the ground, ignoring everybody.

Noel looks up, holding his fork. His face is slightly rounder than Liam's and his eyes are not as big. It means that his look is not as adaptable as Liam's, who one minute can look like a football hooligan, and the next boyishly desirable.

Noel's face is harder, less chameleon-like, craggy even. There are wrinkles round his eyes that shouldn't scar a twenty-eight year-old face and his nose tilts a little to the right. Even so, he possesses a strange handsome look.

Tonight he is wearing a button-down white shirt, jeans that reach his ankles and a pair of black laceless shoes.

‘What the fuck do you mean?' he demands. When Noel confronts his brother it is noticeable that his voice tends to go up a register.

‘The vocals, man. That's what I'm talking about.'

‘What about them?'

‘They're wrong.'

‘What do you mean, they're wrong?'

‘They're wrong.'

‘Look,' Noel states, ‘if you don't tell me what's up with them, how the fuck am I meant to know what you're on about?'

He looks to his companions for confirmation of the truth in his statement but all three women concentrate on their food. Heads down, they stay silent, stay out of it.

‘They're mixed all wrong,' Liam snaps back.

‘No, they're not.'

‘Yes they are.'

‘Are they fuck,' Noel dismissively says before turning his attention back to the food in front of them.

The song Liam is talking about is ‘Round Are Way', a stomping brass-driven song that Noel refers to, when he plays it to people, as ‘the Oasis tribute to Northern Soul'.

‘You can't fucking hear me properly,' Liam then says. Noel ignores him, carries on eating.

‘It's a top song,' Liam adds, ‘and you've fucked it right up.'

He looks at the girl near the doorway and jerks his head back. He is saying, let's split.

As they walk out, Noel looks up and shouts after him, ‘I do know something about mixing a record, you know. I've been doing it the past two years in case you hadn't noticed, you dickhead.'

Noel resumes eating but the incident is bugging him so badly now, he can't enjoy his food. He drops his fork on to the table, pushes his plate aside, stands, and without a word heads for the studio.

He walks determinedly down the corridor, gold discs hanging on the walls, and pushes through the studio's heavy, soundproofed doors. The first thing he sees as he enters is Owen at the mixing desk.

Scattered around the producer are half-empty silver cartons of takeaway food, beer cans and cigarette packets. Owen, a wellbuilt man with short hair and an oval face, is sitting on a chair that has wheels. He is pushing himself along the desk, hitting various coloured buttons.

Blasts of music come firing out of the speakers above him. Owen pushes a button and it stops. The whine of a tape rewinding can be heard in the far corner. Owen then hits another button and the music starts again. The studio is half-lit, darkish.

BOOK: Getting High
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