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Out of all the members of Take That, Robbie Williams never really seemed to fit in.
Roguishly handsome where his bandmates were merely cute, Williams was tougher and sexier than the rest, which made him more distinctive.
Although he was the first out of the gate, it took Williams a while to get started.
For most of 1995, he attempted to boost his credibility by tagging along with Oasis, hoping that Noel Gallagher would give him a couple of songs.
He also fought regularly with the other members and their management, primarily because he was occasionally adverse to being so heavily packaged.
So it didn't come as a surprise that he was the first to leave the band, departing early in the summer of 1995 to pursue a solo career (by some accounts, he was fired from the group).
Occasionally, he was quoted as saying his new music would abandon lightweight dance-pop for traditional Brit-pop, but his first single was a cover of George Michael's "Freedom '90." Released late in 1996, the single was a disaster, but his second single, 1997's "Old Before I Die," was more in the vein of his early pronouncements, featuring a distinct Oasis influence.
During 2002, Williams celebrated an enormous new contract with EMI (rumored to be upwards of 80 million dollars), but suffered the loss of his longtime production partner Guy Chambers.He never did, but all of his time with Oasis launched Williams into a world of heavy partying, drinking, and drugging.Over the course of 1996, he was only heard from in gossip columns, and every published picture indicated he had put on considerable weight.Escapology, the fifth Robbie Williams album (and the last to include Chambers' input), sold millions of copies in Europe, though it failed to persuade American audiences.
The album became a big hit in Britain, prompting his second, I've Been Expecting You, to go multi-platinum upon its release in 1998. S.-only compilation designed for breaking Williams to American audiences, was released stateside in the spring of 1999.) Sing When You're Winning followed in late 2000, gaining success with the video hit "Rock DJ," while a big-band album of standards (Swing When You're Winning) appeared a year later.By this point, Robbie Williams had become one of Europe's premier pop stars, known for his headline-grabbing behavior as much as his hit-studded albums.