There was a seismic shift in British pop music when four young men from the Manchester area decided to form a band in 1990.
Along with a precocious talent from Stoke-on-Trent, they created a sensation that took the teenage world by storm.
They became so big that the government issued health guidance to distraught female fans when the band broke up in 1996.
They were, of course, Take That.
The four locals were Howard Donald from Droylsden, Jason Orange from Crumpsall, Mark Owen from Oldham and singer-songwriter Gary Barlow from Frodsham, Cheshire.
Making up the quintet was ‘bodypopper’ dancer Robbie Williams. He was 16 when the group formed.
The oldest member was Donald at 22. He had to get time off from his job as a vehicle painter to join the band.
Barlow had been performing his own songs in clubs since the age of 15 and was 19 when the group got together.
Orange, who had appeared as a breakdancer on the TV show Hit Man and Her, was 20 and bank worker Owen was just 18.
The driving force in bringing the boys together was Manchester-based band manager Nigel Martin-Smith. He wanted to create a group in the mould of popular American band New Kids on the Block.
Martin-Smith worked as a casting agent in Manchester’s Royal Exchange and was determined to break the London-based focus of many in his industry.
Building the band round Barlow, Martin-Smith ensured the boys honed their act playing in pubs, clubs and events around Manchester and then the rest of the country.
In 1990, Take That made their first TV appearance on Granada’s dance music programme The Hit Man and Her, hosted by Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan. They performed Barlow’s composition My Kind of Girl.
The group’s first single was Do What U Like released in July 1991, followed by Promises and Once You’ve Tasted Love in January 1992.
The songs were minor hits in the UK, but the band’s chart breakthrough was a cover version of the 1975 Tavares hit It Only Takes a Minute which peaked at number seven in May 1992.
Barlow’s ballad A Million Love songs also climbed to seventh place in the charts, but the breakthrough hit came with the release of the Barry Manilow classic Could It Be Magic in November 1992.
The band’s fame really started to soar in 1993 with the chart-topping album Everything Changes. Four of its tracks – Pray, Relight My Fire, Babe and the title track Everything Changes – were consecutive UK number ones!
The album, based mainly on Barlow’s original compositions, gained international recognition and was nominated for the 1994 Mercury Prize.
Take That made a triumphant return to Manchester in 1993 and found time to tour Old Trafford with United winger Ryan Giggs. Like the Red Devils, the group were riding high and enjoyed posing with the Premier League trophy.
From 1994, the boys were on the cover of every music magazine and had launched a burgeoning range of merchandise. Everything from T-shirts to toothbrushes carried the Take that brand!
The first world tour took place in 1995, followed by the release of the third album Nobody Else in 1995. It went to number one in the UK and Europe.
Two tracks from Nobody Else became number one singles – Sure and the monster hit Back for Good released in March 1995.
The group’s popularity was already unmatched in the UK, but Back for Good sent it into fever pitch across the world. The single was a number one in 31 countries and has been covered no less than 89 times.
Take That’s first incarnation came to an end on 13 February 1996 when the group announced they were disbanding. Williams had left earlier in the year.
They gave their final performance of the first era at Amsterdam in April 1996 and signed off with another number one single – a remake of the Bee Gees’ How Deep Is Your Love.
Take That fans were beside themselves over the break-up. Teenage girls lined the streets in tears and government telephone hotlines were set up to counsel them.
The band members pursued their own projects. Barlow and Williams carved out successful solo singing careers, while Owen won the TV show Celebrity Big Brother in November 2002.
Orange starred as DJ Brent Moyer in Lynda La Plante’s 1998 TV drama Killer Net.
It was a decade before the band reformed in 2006.
Many more unmissable pictures and memories of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Manchester in the 1970s – on sale at a reduced price for M.E.N. readers.
Just check out our online shop for more details or ring 01928 503777 to place your order.