Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams
During their decades in the limelight, the five have routinely been the subject of publicised feuds, caused national heartache on multiple occasions, and have even participated in iconic reconciliations live on stage.
He is later alleged to have branded Gary, now 52, as “clueless”, whilst the latter reportedly claimed the star was “jealous” of his songwriting fortune.
However, in recent years, the pair’s fraught relationship has been somewhat patched up.
To delve into the history of Robbie and Gary’s feud, cast your mind back to 1990 when former casting agent Nigel Martin-Smith met the latter, then just 19.
At the time, the singer-songwriter had been performing original material in venues across the North West for five years. Seemingly understanding the Cheshire star’s potential, Martin-Smith elected to build a group around Barlow. He brought in Howard, then 22, Mark, then 18, Jason, then 20.
Robbie was 16 and Gary 19 at the time Take That was formed.
According to the documentary, Take That: For the Record, an advertisement was later put out for a final member to join. Robbie, then just 16, responded after his mother reportedly read it out to him and suggested he throw his hat into the ring.
Two years on from their formation, Take That had scored their first major hit – a cover of Tavares ‘It Only Takes A Minute’.
The track peaked at number seven in the UK charts and laid the foundations for their first album, Take That & Party, to peak at the number two position later that year.
Within three years, Take That had released two number-one albums – Everything Changes in 1993 and Nobody Else in 1995 – and won three BRIT Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, and were one of the biggest bands in the UK.
Robbie left Take That for the first time in 1995,
However, behind the scenes, Robbie is said to have been struggling with his role in the five-piece. It’s reported that he was frustrated, had been suffering from issues related to drugs and alcohol, and was partying heavily.
Following the release of ‘Back for Good’ in 1995, the Stoke native decided to leave the band.
It’s said that tensions had grown after the Rock DJ singer elected to miss Take That rehearsals to spend time at Glastonbury Festival with Oasis.
In 24 Hours with Take That, Robbie later revealed: “The last few months I was a wreck. The night before we all went out. I drank myself stupid.
“That morning, we rehearsed as normal, but I was drinking an awful lot. So when they spoke to me about my attitude I thought they were saying ‘you should leave’.
“I walked out, left it a couple of seconds and then I jumped in through the door and everybody laughed. And then I walked away. They never thought that would be the last time.”
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Robbie returned to the fold in 2010 and joined Take That’s Progress Live tour.
The 49-year-old also said that he “blamed Gary” at the time of his departure and said that the problem with the band was that two different men “wanted to be the front man”.
Following his exit in 1995, Robbie later allegedly branded the ‘Superhero’ singer as “clueless” and said the remaining members had “all the creativity of morons”.
Despite Robbie’s high-profile exit, Take That continued to promote their latest record, Nobody Else, as a four-piece. But in early 1996, it was revealed that the remaining members were calling time on the band.
After the disbandment of Take That, Gary embarked on a solo career and later claimed that Williams was jealous of his reported £6.5 million fortune.
He said at the time: “I do wonder if that’s the source of his [Robbie’s] feelings because I probably made six times more than they did.”
In 1997, Robbie released his debut solo album, Life thru a Lens and later singles ‘Angels’ and ‘Let Me Entertain You’. Five months on from its release, it finally reached the number-one spot on the UK album charts. But that didn’t stop him from still publicly calling out his former bandmate
“My problem has always been with Gary. It was always with Gary,” he said.
While Robbie was seeing commercial success, Barlow had been dropped by his record label.
Speaking about the ordeal later, the 52-year-old said: “It was a really humiliating thing that happened. I’d been in this band, it all ends, you get dropped, one of your band members goes on to be stratospheric, you’re just the loser.
“There’s like a big ‘L’ wherever you look, all over your body, you’re just a loser. I just didn’t want to be me. I just hated myself at that point.”
Gary Barlow said: ‘What happened between me and Rob always bothered me’.
After dropping out of the limelight and dealing with depression, Gary decided to start penning songs for other stars before getting Take That back together in 2006.
Despite Robbie still not being part of the lineup, it’s said that Gary invited him to a hotel in Los Angeles to chat about the past. However, the ‘Rudebox’ singer reportedly left after just 10 minutes of talking.
Later, Gary was invited to Robbie’s home, with the former later admitting: “Living with that kind of feud isn’t right. The chat was like an exorcism.
“Rob felt that for the last year of Take That, he was crying out to every one of us. In the end, he left, and we handled that badly.
“We let him leave the fold and no one looked after him. Robbie was barely 21,” he continued. “What happened between me and Rob always bothered me.”
Four years on from Take That’s reunion, the news broke that Robbie and Gary had written the track ‘Shame’ together. It would feature the vocals of both artists for the first time since 1995.
The track itself peaked at number two in the charts and a month later the 49-year-old revealed that he was returning to the band.
At the time, a statement from the band read: “The rumours are true … Take That: the original lineup, have written and recorded a new album for release later this year.
“Following months of speculation Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen, and Robbie Williams confirmed they have been recording a new studio album as a five-piece, which they will release in November.”
As well as working on the Progress album, Robbie joined his bandmates for the Progress live UK tour.
He was also due to perform with the band at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. However, he pulled out due to his wife, Ayda Field, giving birth around the same time.
Take That last performed as a five-piece in November 2012, and Robbie has not since been involved in the creative process of further records III, Wonderland or This Life.
But, there seems to be no bad blood about the decision as Robbie and Gary have performed together on the X Factor in 2018, and were both involved in a special gig for fans during lockdown.
Robbie Williams, the new limited documentary series, is coming to Netflix on November 8 2023.
The series is due to see the star reflect on his time with Take That, as well as detail his addiction struggles and discuss his solo career.