Personalities | Noel Gallagher | Britpop’s Trail-blazer | Guitar Heroes

Britpop guitarist Noel Gallagher (b. 1967) was born in Manchester, England. He began teaching himself guitar at the age of 13, later adopting Johnny Marr as his role model. His other inspirations were primarily British guitar bands: the Kinks, the Who, Slade, the Jam and the Stone Roses.

After unsuccessfully auditioning for the role of lead singer with Manchester indie group Inspiral Carpets, Gallagher became their roadie. Returning home in 1992 from an American tour, he discovered younger brother Liam singing in a band, Rain, with Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs (guitar), Paul McGuigan (bass) and Tony McCarroll (drums). Noel allowed himself to be persuaded to join, on the condition that he take creative control. Renamed Oasis, their rise was swift, as the band graduated to stadium gigs within two years of the release of their debut single ‘Supersonic’ in 1994.

Oasis’s first album, Definitely Maybe (1994), was steeped in rock classicism, recalling The Sex Pistols with the bass buried beneath multiple layers of guitars. Further homage to his influences was evident in Gallagher’s appropriation of T. Rex’s ‘Get It On’ riff for ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’. New drummer Alan White joined for (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995), and his skills enabled Oasis to craft a more varied, Beatles-influenced collection. Noel’s strident lead on the title track and adroit acoustic work on ‘Wonderwall’ stood out, but he is dismissive of his abilities: ‘I’m more of a strummer than a lead guitarist.’

Gallagher favours Epiphone Sheratons and has a signature blue ‘Supernova’ model. Carefully matching guitar to song, he also uses a Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul. Although naturally left-handed, he plays right-handed.

Oasis spearheaded a revival in British guitar bands like Cast and Ocean Colour Scene, and later, Travis and Coldplay, who took their lead from the band’s quieter side. The Gallagher brothers’ pursuit of the rock’n’roll lifestyle resulted in an overproduced third album, Be Here Now (1997). Oasis subsequently recovered some of their early form. Further line-up changes fostered a more flexible musical approach, while the Gallaghers’ often combative relationship remained the core dynamic of the band.

In 2009, however, the relationship between the two brothers reached breaking point, with Noel confirming on his blog that he had left Oasis to ‘seek pastures new’. He has since worked on collaborative projects, as well as fronting new band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, whose self-titled debut album was released in 2011.

Essential Recordings

Oasis: Definitely Maybe

Oasis: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

Oasis: Be Here Now

with The High Flying Birds: Noel Gallagher And The High Flying Birds

Personalities | Rory Gallagher | Keeping the Faith | Guitar Heroes


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