WITH a legion of fans and a string of hits, Gary Barlow shot to fame as a 90s poster boy for Take That.
But despite writing their biggest hits, including A Million Love Songs and Back For Good, he was “drowned in jealousy” as ex-bandmate Robbie Williams embarked on a hugely successful solo career after leaving the band in 1995.
In his new book: A Different Stage, Gary, 51, lifts the lid on how he was paralyzed by self-loathing as work dried up at the turn of the millennium – leading him to battle bulimia and gorge on cigarettes, weed and alcohol.
And Gary still doesn’t understand why Jason Orange, 52, left the band in 2014 – 19 years after Robbie’s departure – leaving him in a trio with Mark Owen, 50, and Howard Donald, 54.
The five musicians had enjoyed a string of hits and were at the height of their fame in July 1995, when Robbie sensationally called it quits on their 31-date Nobody Else world tour.
Gary recalled how Robbie was photographed partying with Britpop stars and slowly drifting away from ‘Take That Mothership’.
During one of the final rehearsals for the UK leg of the tour, and less than four weeks after spending time with Liam Gallagher at Glastonbury, Robbie walked out.
Gary remembered driving away in a car with blacked-out windows.
Gary and the rest of the band brushed off the drama, thinking their bandmate would be back in the morning to rehearse.
bitter war of words
However, when the dust settled and it was clear Robbie wasn’t coming back, Gary admitted he wished he was the one gone instead.
He writes: “I felt a little jealous that I wasn’t the one who stood up and said, ‘Hey, I want to have fun. I’m a popstar, I’m going to act like one for a while.
“None of us wanted to leave Take That, but watching someone else leave, I – all of us – couldn’t help but think about taking the plunge too.”
A bitter war of words erupted between the two, with Robbie calling Gary “no clue” and slamming his former bandmates as having “all the creativity of morons”.
Robbie said in an interview: “I hated our music and in the end I hated myself too. My problem was always with Gary.
Six months after Robbie’s departure, Take That again devastated fans with the explosive news that they were going their separate ways.
Helplines have been set up to console subscribers in distress.
But a decade later, in May 2006, Gary, Jason, Mark and Howard revealed they had reformed.
The comeback album Beautiful World – featuring chart-topping Shine and Patience – rose to No. 1, putting them firmly on the map as a quartet.
Weed, fags, coffee, booze, and beige food were a way to ease the pain.
But a second shock departure came in September 2014 when Jason revealed he would not be making new music or going on their ninth concert tour.
He said there was no bad blood between him and his former bandmates and fully supported Gary, Mark and Howard with their new trio album.
He told fans: “There were no falls, just a decision on my part that I don’t want to do this anymore.
“I know how much Mark, Gary and Howard love writing and making music, and they know they have my full support and encouragement to continue what will be another chapter for the band.”
The departure didn’t send shockwaves through the group the way Robbie did, but Gary says he still hasn’t accepted it.
He writes: “I’ve tried so many times to figure out why Jay left, but there’s no way to comment unless you’re that person. We are too old to persuade people to stay in a situation they are fed up with.
To onlookers, Gary seems to have the perfect family life – a long marriage, three children and a home in west London with his own recording studio.
He grew up in Frodsham, Cheshire, with his older brother Ian and his parents Marjorie, a teacher, and Colin, a farmhand.
I felt like I was drowning in jealousy for my old bandmate Robbie.
He met his wife Dawn Andrews on the set of a music video in 1988 before she became a backup dancer for his band when they formed in Manchester in 1990.
They married in 2000 and welcomed eldest son Daniel, 22, in August.
But despite becoming a father, Gary recalled his height growing as he became a recluse on his 117-acre estate.
Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend Robbie was dominating the airwaves with hits like Millennium, She’s The One and Rock DJ.
Reflecting on his fallout with Robbie, he writes: “I felt like I was drowning in jealousy for my old bandmate Robbie.”
At his heaviest, 16th 11 lb, Gary was classified as obese, following the band’s split and a flopped solo album.
Of the ridicule he faced because of his weight gain, Gary writes: “My confidence was shaken, I had become terrified of my piano. I went to my studio almost every day just to pretend to work.
“Weed, fags, coffee, booze, and beige food were a way to ease the pain.”
My confidence was shot, I had become terrified of my piano. I went to my studio almost every day just to pretend to work.
And despite preparing to welcome his second child, daughter Emily, now 20, Gary recalled how he was broken inside during the 2002 Golden Jubilee as he struggled for bulimia related to eating disorders.
He writes, “I purged in darkness, in private, alone, in the farthest corners of my pop-star mansion. I was ashamed of my bulimia.
“Was it my shame about what had happened with my career and all the feelings I had that I couldn’t understand? Was bulimia my “unexpressed emotions”. . . manifest itself in an uglier way? »
In 2009, the couple became parents for the third time with the birth of 13-year-old Daisy.
But three years, just a week before Gary performed at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, the family was shattered when their fourth child, Poppy, was stillborn.
In his book, Gary devotes a chapter, titled Grief, to the unimaginable pain of losing a child.
At the time, Gary and Dawn released a heartbreaking statement, saying, “Dawn and I are devastated to announce that we have lost our baby.
“Poppy Barlow was stillborn on August 4 in London. Our focus now is to give her a beautiful funeral and to love our three children with all of our hearts. We would ask at this painful time that our privacy be respected.
I’m wearing the red Adidas track top in A Different Stage, because that’s what Robbie was photographed in at Glastonbury as he started his new adventure.
Gary then wrote Let Me Go which he released in 2013 as a tribute to his daughter on his fourth solo album Since I Saw You Last.
The track became his best-selling solo single, peaking at number two on the charts.
In 2010 Robbie announced he was joining the band for an album and tour, after a one-on-one with Gary.
Robbie admitted: ‘I left an angry young man and blamed Gary.
“But the truth is, Take That had two guys who wanted to be the leader.”
Robbie returned to the band and their single The Flood was released in November 2010 from their Progress album which would become the last to feature Jason.
In December 2018, Robbie thrilled X Factor fans by joining Gary, Howard and Mark for an epic performance in the live finale.
But in early 2022, Gary announced he would be touring a new solo show, A Different Stage, to reflect on his three-decade career.
Showing that he and Robbie have left behind their boyband busts, Gary wore a tracksuit as a tribute to the Let Me Entertain You singer.
He wrote: “I’m wearing the red Adidas track top in A Different Stage, because that’s what Robbie was photographed in at Glastonbury as he started his new adventure.
- Gary Barlow: A Different Stage is out now and available to buy at all good bookstores and online.