In the spring of 1994, the winds of change began to blow through the UK music scene. The singles chart had been dominated by a varied selection of tunes ranging from Mr Blobby, Doop and Chaka Demus & Pliers. The album chart gave a more rounded view of the balladeers of the music industry with Meat Loaf, Bryan Adams, Diana Ross and Mariah Carey featuring heavily.
I , like many other music fans, had been left devastated by the death of Kurt Cobain in April 1994. A UK tour that had fans at fever pitch following the release of Nevermind and their meteoric rise to fame in the early 1990s will always be one of the big ‘what if’ moments for music fans of that era. However, as history shows, the music doesn’t stop after the untimely death of special talents and lyricists.
In early May, a quirk in the musical timeline saw Scottish rock band Stiltskin head up the singles chart with Inside. The success of the song may have been helped along by the link to a jeans advert shown at the time – all of the songs linked with these ads went to number one. Around the same time, the third release from Blur – Parklife – bounced into the number one slot in the album charts. However, in the background, a musical phenomenon was noisily gathering pace.
The legendary Manchester music scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s had delivered some of the most iconic bands, musicians and dancers in the UK. The Charlatans, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets were all part of the cultural musical movement fronted by The Stone Roses. However, musical differences, as well as drink and drug fuelled sessions, would see these bands lose their place at the top of the musical charts to the new wave of grunge music imported from the United States. The 24-hour party people refused to stand still, they kept the faith and awaited a Second Coming. They didn’t have to wait too long.
On 11 April 1994, Creation Records released a single from their newly-signed five-piece band from Manchester. To the vast majority of the UK, the release went under the radar only reaching number 31 in the singles chart, but Oasis were already well on the road to superstardom. A heavy schedule of touring throughout the UK had already seen the band make a huge impact in the hearts and minds of a fanbase that wanted more.
As word of the band started to spread in mainstream music circles, the band played their first set on Top of the Pops with their second single Shakermaker. This track peaked at number 11 in the charts, but now the band had been given some primetime exposure. The trademark swagger, attitude and style of a band ready to conquer the music scene was there for all to see.
In August 1994, Oasis released their third single Live Forever making it into the top 10 in the UK singles chart. The band were now perfectly placed for the release of their debut album. In late August, Oasis released their album Definitely Maybe to huge critical acclaim. The album became the fastest-selling debut album in UK music history at the time and everywhere you turned you could see and hear the influential sounds and styles of the reformed and re-energised Manchester music scene.
A UK tour closely followed, as did the fourth single from the album, Cigarettes & Alcohol, all the while Oasis continued with their confident takeover of UK music. I was lucky enough to see and hear the rise of a musical sensation as a 16-year-old culminating in two unforgettable performances from the band at the Glasgow Barrowlands in December 1994.
In the final weeks of 1994, Whatever was released and entered the charts at number three, cementing Oasis’ place as the pacesetters of the new guitar-based indie soundtrack of the mid ‘90s.
Martin DonaldsonListen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast