Oasis played their first live gig in August 1991 at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Noel Gallagher, who was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, went with the band to watch his younger brother's band play. Whilst Noel Gallagher and his friends did not think Oasis sounded particularly spectacular, he did begin to consider the possibility of using his brother's group as a possible outlet for a series of songs he'd been writing for several years. Noel approached the group about joining with the proviso that he would become the band's sole songwriter and leader, and that they would commit to an earnest pursuit of commercial success. "He had loads of stuff written," Arthurs recalled. "When he walked in, we were a band making a racket with four tunes. All of a sudden, there were loads of ideas."Oasis under Noel Gallagher crafted a musical approach that relied on simplicity, with Arthurs and McGuigan restricted to playing barred chords and root bass notes, respectively; McCarroll playing basic rhythms, and the band's amplifiers turned up as to create distortion, Oasis created a sound "so devoid of finesse and complexity that it came out sounding pretty much unstoppable."
After over a year of live shows, rehearsals and a recording of a proper demo (known as the Live Demonstration tape), the band's big break came in May 1993 when they were spotted by Creation Records co-owner Alan McGee. Oasis were invited to play a gig at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut club in Glasgow, Scotland, by a band called Sister Lovers, who shared their rehearsal rooms. Oasis, along with a group of friends, found the money to hire a van and make the six-hour journey to Glasgow. When they arrived, they were refused entry to the club as they were not on that night's set list, which reportedly caused the band to bully their way in (although both the band and Alan McGee have given contradicting statements about how they actually managed to get into the club on that night). They were given the opening slot and impressed McGee, who was there to see 18 Wheeler, one of his own bands, that night. McGee was so impressed by what he saw he signed the band to Creation four days later. Due to problems securing an American contract, Oasis ended up signing a worldwide contract with Sony, which in turn licensed Oasis to Creation in the UK.
Following a limited white label release of the demo of their song "Columbia", their first single, "Supersonic", was released in April 1994, reaching number 31 in the charts. The release was followed by "Shakermaker". This song would become the subject of a plagiarism suit, with Oasis paying $500,000 in damages. Their third single, "Live Forever", was their first to enter the Top 10 of the UK charts. After troubled recording and mixing sessions, their debut album, Definitely Maybe, was released in September 1994, entering the charts at number 1, and at the time becoming the fastest selling debut album in the UK.
The best part of a year of constant live performances and recordings, along with a hedonistic lifestyle, were taking their toll on the band. This behaviour culminated during a gig in Los Angeles in September 1994 where Liam was under the influence of crystal meth, leading to an inept performance during which he made offensive remarks about American audiences and assaulted Noel with a tambourine. The incident upset Noel to such an extent that he temporarily quit the band immediately after and flew to San Francisco (it was from this incident that the song "Talk Tonight" was written). He was tracked down by Creation's Tim Abbot and they made a trip to Las Vegas. Once there, Gallagher was persuaded to continue with the band. He reconciled with his brother and the tour resumed in Minneapolis. The group followed up the fourth single from Definitely Maybe, "Cigarettes and Alcohol", with the Christmas single EP "Whatever" which entered the British charts at number 3. This song would later carry a co-writer's credit for Neil Innes, who sued and also won damages.
Oasis had their first UK number 1 in April 1995 with "Some Might Say", the first single from their second album. At the same time, drummer Tony McCarroll was ousted from the band. McCarroll said, on leaving Oasis, that he was “unlawfully expelled from the partnership” for what he called a “personality clash” with the brothers. The Gallaghers, on the other hand, doubted McCarroll’s musical ability, with Noel saying: “I like Tony as a geezer but he wouldn't have been able to drum the new songs”. McCarroll was replaced by Londoner Alan White, formerly of Starclub and younger brother of renowned studio percussionist Steve White, whom Paul Weller recommended to Noel. White made his debut for the band at a Top of the Pops performance of "Some Might Say". Oasis began recording material for their second album in May of that year in Rockfield Studios near Monmouth.
During this period, the British press seized upon a supposed rivalry between Oasis and Britpop band Blur. Previously, Oasis did not associate themselves with the Britpop movement and were not invited to perform on the BBC's "Britpop Now" programme introduced by Blur singer Damon Albarn. On 14 August 1995, Blur and Oasis released new singles on the same day, setting up "The Battle of Britpop" that dominated the national news. Blur's "Country House" outsold Oasis' "Roll with It" 274,000 copies to 216,000 during the week. Oasis' management came up with several reasons for this, claiming "Country House" sold more because it was less expensive (£1.99 vs £3.99) and because there were two different versions of "Country House" with different B-sides forcing serious fans to buy two copies. An alternative explanation given at the time by Creation was that there were problems associated with the barcode on the "Roll With It" single case, which did not record all sales. Noel Gallagher told The Observer in September that he hoped Damon Albarn and Alex James of Blur would "catch AIDS and die", which caused a media furore. He subsequently apologised for this in a formal letter to various publications.
Bassist Paul McGuigan briefly left the band in September 1995, citing nervous exhaustion. He was replaced by Scott McLeod, formerly of The Ya-Yas, who featured on some of the tour dates as well as in the "Wonderwall" video before leaving abruptly while on tour in the USA. McLeod later contacted Noel Gallagher claiming he felt he had made the wrong decision. Gallagher curtly replied "I think you have too. Good luck signing on". In order to complete the tour, McGuigan was successfully convinced to return to the band.
Although a softer sound led to mixed reviews, Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was a commercial success, becoming the third largest selling album of all time in the UK with over four million copies sold. The album spawned two further hit singles "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger", which also reached numbers two and one respectively. It also contained the non-UK single "Champagne Supernova"—featuring guitar playing and backing vocals by Paul Weller—that received widespread critical acclaim and peaked at number 1 on the US modern rock charts. The group played their first headline outdoor concerts at Maine Road Football Ground, Manchester on 27 April and 28 April 1996. Highlights from the second night featured on the video ...There And Then, released later the same year. As their career reached its zenith, Oasis performed back-to-back concerts at Knebworth on 10 August and 11 August. The band sold out both shows within minutes; 250,000 people over two nights (2.5 million people applied for tickets, and 375,000 were actually sold, meaning the possibility of 53 sold out nights), at the time a record-breaking number for an outdoor concert held in the UK, and to this day the largest demand for a show in British history.
The next month proved to be difficult for the group. In August, Oasis was due to record an episode of MTV Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall but Liam pulled out, citing a sore throat. He watched the performance from a balcony with cold beer and cigarettes, heckling Noel's singing between songs. Four days later the group left for a tour of American arenas but Liam refused to go; the band decided to continue the tour with Noel on vocals. Liam rejoined the tour on 30 August, but a few weeks later Noel flew home without the band, who followed on another flight. This event prompted media speculation that the group was splitting up. The brothers soon reconciled and decided to complete the tour.
Oasis spent the end of 1996 and the first quarter of 1997 at Abbey Road Studios in London and Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey recording their third album. Be Here Now was released in August 1997. Preceded by the UK number 1 single "D'You Know What I Mean?", the album was perhaps their most anticipated effort, and as such became the subject of considerable media attention. By the end of the first day of release, Be Here Now sold over 350,000 units and by the end of business on Saturday of that week sales had reached 696,000, making it the fastest-selling album in British history. The album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard charts in the United States, but its first week sales of 152,000—below expected sales of 400,000 copies—were considered a disappointment. Although early media reviews were positive, once the hype had died down, the album was criticised for being bloated and derivative with most of the critics focused on the extensive length of several songs, the heavier sound, and overproduction.
The Britpop movement was over and the band failed to meet expectations with Be Here Now. After the conclusion of the disastrous Be Here Now tour, amidst huge media criticism the group decided to stay clear of each other and kept a low profile throughout 1998. That year Oasis released The Masterplan, a compilation album of 14 B-sides, released in November. "The really interesting stuff from around that period is the B-sides. There’s a lot more inspired music on the B-sides than there is on Be Here Now itself, I think", related Noel in an interview in 2008.
In early 1999, the band began work on their fourth studio album. First details were announced in February with Mark "Spike" Stent revealed to be taking a co-producing role. Things were not going well and the shock departure of founding member Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs was announced in August. This departure was reported at the time as amicable, with Noel stating that Arthurs wanted to spend more time with his family. Arthurs' statement clarified his leaving as "to concentrate on other things". However, Noel has since offered a contradicting version: that a series of violations of Noel's "no drink or drugs" policy (imposed by Noel so that Liam could sing properly) for the album's sessions resulted in a confrontation between the two. Two weeks later the departure of bassist Paul McGuigan was announced. The Gallagher brothers held a press conference shortly thereafter where they assured reporters that "the future of Oasis is secure. The story and the glory will go on.
The now three-piece Oasis chose to continue recording the album, with Noel Gallagher re-recording most of Arthurs' guitar and McGuigan's bass parts. After the completion of the recording sessions, the band began searching for replacement members. The first new member to be announced was new lead/rhythm guitarist Colin "Gem" Archer, formerly of Heavy Stereo, who later claimed to have been approached by Noel Gallagher only a couple of days after Arthurs' departure was publicly announced. The band was rehearsing with David Potts, but he quickly resigned, and they brought in Andy Bell, former guitarist/songwriter of Ride and Hurricane #1 as their new bassist. Bell had never played bass before and had to learn to play it, along with a handful of songs from Oasis' back catalogue, in preparation for a scheduled tour of America in December 1999. With the folding of Creation Records, Oasis formed their own label, Big Brother, which released all of Oasis' subsequent records in the UK and Ireland. Oasis' fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was released in February 2000 to good first-week sales. It peaked at number 1 on the British charts and number 24 on the Billboard charts. Three singles were released from the album: "Go Let It Out", "Who Feels Love?" and "Sunday Morning Call", all of which were top 5 UK singles. With the departure of the founding members, the band made several small changes to their image and sound. The cover featured a new "Oasis" logo, designed by Gem Archer, and the album was also the first Oasis release to include a song written by Liam Gallagher, entitled "Little James". The songs also had more experimental, psychedelic influences. The album received only lukewarm reviews and, as of now, Standing is the band's lowest selling studio album.
To support the record the band staged an eventful world tour. While touring in Barcelona in 2000, Oasis were forced to cancel a gig when Alan White's arm seized up, and the band spent the night drinking instead. Liam made a derogatory comment about Noel's then-wife Meg Mathews, and attempted to cast doubt over the legitimacy of Noel's daughter Anais, causing a scuffle. Following this, Noel declared he was quitting touring overseas altogether, and Oasis were supposed to finish the tour without him. Noel eventually returned for the Irish and British legs of the tour, which included two major shows at Wembley Stadium. A live album of the first show, called Familiar to Millions, was released in late 2000 to mixed reviews.
Throughout 2001, Oasis split time between sessions for their fifth studio album and live shows around the world. Some gigs included the month-long Tour of Brotherly Love with The Black Crowes and Spacehog and a show in Paris supporting Neil Young. The album, Heathen Chemistry, Oasis' first album with new members Andy Bell and Gem Archer, was released in July 2002. The album reached number 1 in the UK and number 23 in US, although critics gave it mixed reviews. There were four singles released from the album: "The Hindu Times", "Stop Crying Your Heart Out", "Little by Little/She Is Love", and the Liam-penned "Songbird", Oasis' first single not written by Noel. The record blended the band's sonic experiments from their last albums, but also went for a more basic rock sound. Heathen Chemistry was a much more balanced recording process for the band, with all of the members, apart from White, penning songs. Johnny Marr provided additional guitar as well as backup vocals on a couple of songs.
After the album's release, the band embarked on a successful world tour that was once again filled with incidents. In late summer 2002, whilst the band was on tour in the US, Noel, Bell and touring keyboardist Jay Darlington were involved in a car accident in Indianapolis. While none of the band members sustained any major injuries, some shows were cancelled as a result. In December 2002, the latter half of the German leg of the band's European tour had to be postponed after Liam Gallagher, Alan White and three other members of the band's entourage were arrested after a violent brawl at a Munich nightclub. The band had been drinking heavily and tests showed that Liam had used cocaine. Liam lost two front teeth and kicked a police officer in the ribs, while Alan suffered minor head injuries after getting hit with an ashtray. Two years later Liam was fined around £40,000. The band finished their tour in April 2003 after returning to those postponed dates.
Oasis began recording a sixth album in late December 2003 with producers Death in Vegas at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall. The album was originally planned for a September 2004 release to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of Definitely Maybe. However, long-time drummer Alan White, who at this time had played on nearly all of the band's material, left the band in early January 2004. At the time, his brother Steve White stated on his own website that "the spirit of being in a band was kicked out of him" and he wanted to be with his current girlfriend. White was replaced by Zak Starkey, drummer of The Who and the son of The Beatles' Ringo Starr. Though Starkey performed on studio recordings and toured with the band, he was not officially a member and the band was a four-piece for the first time in their career. Starkey played publicly for the first time at Poole Lighthouse.
A few days later, Oasis, with Starkey, headlined the Glastonbury Festival for the second time in their career and performed a greatest hits set, which included two new songs — Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" and Liam Gallagher's "The Meaning of Soul". The performance received negative reviews, with NME calling it a "disaster."The BBC's Tom Bishop called Oasis' set "lacklustre and uneventful... prompting a mixed reception from fans", mainly because of Liam's uninspired singing and Starkey's lack of experience with the band's material.
After much turbulence, the band's sixth album was finally recorded in Los Angeles-based Capitol Studios from October to December the same year. Producer Dave Sardy took over the lead producing role from Noel, who decided to step back from these duties after a decade of producing leadership over the band. In May 2005, after three years and as many scrapped recording sessions, the band released their sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth, fulfilling their contract with Sony BMG. It followed the path of Heathen Chemistry as being a collaborative project again, rather than a Noel-written album. The album was the first in a decade not to feature drumming by Alan White, marking the recording debut of Zak Starkey. The record was generally hailed as the band's best effort since Morning Glory by fans and critics alike, spawning two UK number 1 singles: "Lyla" and "The Importance of Being Idle", whilst "Let There Be Love" entered at number 2. Oasis picked up two awards at the Q Awards: one a special People's Choice Award and the second for Don't Believe the Truth as Best Album. Following in the footsteps of Oasis' previous five albums, Don't Believe the Truth also entered the UK album charts at number 1.
In May 2005, the band's new line-up embarked on a large scale world tour. Beginning on 10 May 2005 at the London Astoria, and finishing on 31 March 2006 in front of a sold out gig in Mexico City, Oasis played more live shows than at any time since the Definitely Maybe tour, visiting 26 countries and headlining 110 shows. The tour passed without any major incidents and was the band's most successful in more than a decade. The tour included sold out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden and LA's Hollywood Bowl. A rockumentary film made during the tour, entitled Lord Don't Slow Me Down was released in October 2007. A second DVD included live footage from an Oasis gig in Manchester from 2 July 2005.
As part of the Lord Don't Slow Me Down DVD, 200 special Oasis-style frustration board games were commissioned to be produced by MB games. The Gallagher brothers are said to have played the original Frustration game with each other during their childhood, and in the film "Lord Don't Slow Me Down" they can be seen playing a game of frustration with fellow band-mates Gem Archer and Andy Bell.
Oasis released a compilation double album entitled Stop the Clocks in 2006, featuring what the band considers to be their "definitive" songs. Though the band didn't want to release a compilation, their expired contract with Sony Music forced a release against their wishes. So, the band chose to be involved, "otherwise it would be shit" as Noel said later in an interview. During November 2006, Noel and Gem, backed by drummer Terry Kirkbride, began a short tour to promote Stop the Clocks. They played around a dozen shows in various countries around the world.
The band received the BRIT Award for outstanding contribution to music in February 2007, playing several of their most famous songs afterwards. Oasis released their first ever digital-only release, "Lord Don't Slow Me Down", in October 2007. The song debuted at number 10 in the U.K singles charts.
The band's resurgence in popularity since the success of Don't Believe The Truth was highlighted in February 2008 when, in a poll to find the 50 greatest British albums of the last 50 years conducted by Q Magazine and HMV, two Oasis albums were voted first and second (Definitely Maybe and (What's The Story) Morning Glory? respectively). Two other albums by the band appeared in the list - Don't Believe The Truth came in at no.14, and the album that has previously been heavily criticised by some of the media, Be Here Now, made the list at No.22.
In May 2008, Zak Starkey left the band after recording the band's seventh studio album and becoming a fully-fledged member during the sessions. He was replaced by former Robbie Williams drummer Chris Sharrock on their tour.
In June 2008, the band re-signed with Sony BMG for a three-album deal. Oasis recorded for a couple of months in 2007 between July and September—completing work on two new songs and demoing the rest. They took a two-month break, because of the birth of Noel's son. The band re-entered the studio on 5 November 2007 and finished recording around March 2008 with producer Dave Sardy. The first single from the record was "The Shock of the Lightning" written by Noel Gallagher, and it was pre-released on 29 September 2008. Dig Out Your Soul, the band's seventh studio album, was released on 6 October and went to Number 1 in the UK and number 5 on the Billboard 200. The band's again-new lineup started touring for a projected 18-month long tour, with support from Kasabian, The Enemy and Twisted Wheel. Noel Gallagher has stated that after the tour, he'd "like [them] to go off and do [their] own projects", adding "it would be interesting to see what comes out. See how the four parts make up the whole."
Conversely, Noel has also stated that he's written and demoed the group's follow up to Dig Out Your Soul. Mentioning songs "I Want to Live in a Dream in My Record Machine" and "Come on It's Alright" as potentially being included on the album. Noel stated that there would be thematic unity, likening it to Neil Young's Greendale and compared the sound of the material to "mid-era Kinks," saying that it will sound vastly different than the material from Dig Out Your Soul. Though no time-table was given, Noel still plans on releasing a solo album "...hopefully sooner rather than later" as well.
On 25 February 2009, Oasis received the NME Award for Best British Band of 2009 as well as best blog for Noel's 'Tales from the Middle of Nowhere'.
On 4 June 2009, Oasis played the first of three concerts at Manchester's Heaton Park and after having to leave the stage twice due to a generator failure, came on the third time to declare the gig was now a free concert. This delighted the 70,000 ticket holders, 20,000 of whom claimed the refund, however many of those that requested the refund were left feeling short-changed when the Gallagher brothers promise was not honoured. The band's two following gigs at the venue, on the 6th and 7th of June, proved a great success, with fans turning out in their thousands despite the changeable weather and first night sound issues. Speculation concerning the band's short term future has been rife with speculation of Noel Gallagher going solo, however on July 12, 2009, it was announced that Noel Gallagher is not planning to go solo through the Oasis publicist.
After Oasis's gig on 11 July at Wembley Stadium, Liam addressed the crowd as he said, "There's been rumors that we're going to be splitting up. Let me tell you now, we're not splitting up, we've only just fucking started!" to rapturous applause from the 80,000 fans.
However, on 28 August 2009, after a fight between the Gallaghers in the backstage, their manager announced the cancellation of their concert at the Rock-en-Seine festival near Paris just minutes before it was about to begin, the cancellation of the European tour and that the group "does not exist anymore", referring a coming statement from Noel Gallagher.
Two hours later, a little before midnight, on the band website, a statement of Noel Gallagher read:
"It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."
"Apologies to all the people who bought tickets for the shows in Paris, Konstanz and Milan."