Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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Under the guidance of their mentor and manager Simon Fuller, the group embraced merchandising and became a regular feature of the British and global press. In 1996, Top of the Pops magazine gave each member of the group aliases, which were adopted by the group and media. According to Rolling Stone journalist and biographer David Sinclair, "Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty were the most widely recognised group of individuals since John, Paul, George and Ringo". They were the biggest popular cultural icons of the 1990s, according to a survey carried out by Trivial Pursuit, winning by 80 percent in a poll of 1,000 people, stating that "Girl Power" defined the decade. They are cited as part of the 'second wave' '90s British Invasion of the US.

On 31 May 1998, Halliwell unexpectedly left the group in the middle of numerous rumours. The four remaining members released their third album Forever, but split in November 2000. On 28 June 2007, all five reformed before the launch of their Reunion Tour in December, alongside the release of their Greatest Hits album. In December, a new documentary Giving You Everything aired on television. The tour is estimated to have grossed US$100 million. The tour won the Billboard 2008 Touring Award for Top Boxscore for a 17-night stand at London's O2 Arena.

In 2011, the group announced that they are planning a concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan! All the girls are "excited to perform in the best college town in the U.S." (

In the mid-1990s, father-and-son management team Bob and Chris Herbert set about creating an all female group to compete with popular boy bands that dominated the pop music scene in the mid- to late-1990s: "The whole teen-band scene at the time was saturated by boy bands like Take That and the Backstreet Boys. That was all a bit of a yawn for me, and only appealed to female audiences...I felt if you could appeal to the boys as well, you'd be laughing." In February 1994, Heart Management – which comprised the Herberts together with financier Chic Murphy – placed an advertisement in "The Stage" trade magazine asking "WANTED: R.U. 18–23 with the ability to sing/dance? R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious, and dedicated? Heart Management Ltd. are a widely successful music industry management consortium currently forming a choreographed, singing/dancing, all-female pop act for a recording deal. Open audition. Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street. Friday 4 March. 11 am-5:30 pm. Please bring sheet music or backing cassette". About 400 women who answered the ad went to Dance Works studios. There, they were put into groups of 10 and danced a routine to "Stay" by Eternal. After that, the selection continued and the girls had to sing solo songs. Victoria Adams sang "Mein Herr", Melanie Brown sang "Greatest Love Of All", Melanie Chisholm sang "I'm So Excited", Michelle Stephenson sang "Don't Be A Stranger". After the auditions, the women returned home and waited for some weeks. Geri Halliwell had seen the ad but went skiing in Spain and missed the audition because her face got sunburnt.

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In April 1994, the women got a call and were down to the last 12. They went to Nomis Studios, Shepherd's Bush. The women chosen were Suzanne Tinker (who did not attend), Melanie Laccohee, Lois Cusack, Lianne Morgan, Michelle Stephenson, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm (who did not attend), Victoria Adams, and a few others. Geri Halliwell saw the ad after two months, and decided to call. The management let her in to the last 12, so she was one of them. After arriving, the women had a little solo interview, in which Halliwell sang "I Wanna Be a Nightclub Queen". After the interviews, they were divided into 3 groups of four women and they created a routine for "Just A Step From Heaven" by Eternal. In one group there was Adams, Brown, Stephenson and Morgan. After a dance, Halliwell joined and she was taught their dance. Later, they sang solo songs and Brown sang "Queen Of The Night". Those five were told they had been picked while they were having a cup of tea. After the auditions, the women returned home and waited a couple of weeks. Suzanne Tinker passed the first audition, but could not attend the second because her train was delayed due to a bomb scare, and she did not want to go in late. Chisholm passed the first audition, but could not attend the second because she had problems with her tonsils. Her mother called the management to ask for another chance and they told her they had whittled their choice down to ten women, including Chisholm. They said if they did not find the five or if there was one who they were not sure about, they would give her another chance.

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One week later, the women were called and asked to attend a recall. They were not sure how many women they wanted. If they had wanted four, one of them would have been picked out. They met again in Nomis Studios. Morgan received a letter and she was told she looked too old for the other women, and was replaced with Chisholm. The women had learned "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and sang it on their own and in a group. They were finally selected and told they were going to be a band. Sunday of that week, they spent a week on a guest house in Surrey. The first afternoon, they went to Trinity Studios to learn "Take Me Away". Pepi Lemer trained them for the week. After that week, they did a showcase for Chic Murphy. Dressed in black and white in different combinations, they sang the song they had prepared "Take Me Away". The group was given the name Touch, and moved into a house together in Maidenhead, Berkshire, (owned by Murphy) where they were subsidised by Heart Management. They spent the spring and summer rehearsing at a house in Boyn Hill Road, Maidenhead. Chisholm and Brown shared rooms, Adams and Stephenson shared a second bedroom and Halliwell had a small room to herself.
During the first two months the group worked on demos at South Hill Park Recording Studios in Bracknell, Berkshire with producer/studio owner Michael Sparkes and song writer/arranger Tim Hawes. Most notably recording a track called Sugar and Spice, written by Tim Hawes and the source of their final band name. They also worked on various dance routines at the Trinity Studios in Knaphill, near Woking, Surrey. According to Stephenson the material the group was given was "very, very young pop" and included the song "We're Gonna Make It Happen", a record that never came to light. It soon became apparent that Stephenson did not have the drive and belief that the rest of the group had, so the decision was made to fire her from the group. Bob Herbert stated that "she just wasn't fitting in... she would never have gelled with it and I had to tell her to go". However, Stephenson stated that it was her decision to leave the group, because of the illness of her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and she decided not to be in the band because she was too young and did not want to have problems with her boyfriend having to live with the women for months. Adams later dismissed this claim, saying she "just couldn't be arsed" to put in the work the rest of the group was doing. The Herberts searched for a replacement and first came across Abigail Kis, who did not impress, and then were led to eighteen-year-old Emma Bunton at the suggestion of vocal coach Pepe Lemer. Bunton instantly impressed the Herberts and was invited to meet the group in July 1994, who welcomed her with open arms: "Straight away I knew she was the one", stated Halliwell. During the Summer and Autumn, the group kept on rehearsing and they wrote their first song together: "It's Just One Of Those Days". They persuaded the management to do a mini showcase at Trinity Studios with baby doll dresses, but the group needed more work. After some months, they changed their name to Spice and another showcase was planned in early November in Nomis Studios.

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The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and was frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them. In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, the group began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994 at the Nomis Studios in Shepherds Bush where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction. Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for the group. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Nomis showcase, all five members delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, amongst others, Adams's father Anthony Adams. In March 1995, because of the group's frustration at their management's unwillingness to listen to their visions and ideas, they parted from Heart Management. In order to ensure they kept control of their own work, the group allegedly stole the master recordings of their discography from the management offices. That same day the group tracked down Sheffield-based producer Eliot Kennedy, who had been present at the showcase, and persuaded him to work with them. The group was introduced to record producers Absolute, who in turn brought them to the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment. The group began a relationship with Fuller and finally signed with him in March 1995. During the summer of that year the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller and finally signed a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. From this point on, up to the summer of 1996, the group continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of the United States, where they had signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific. On 7 June 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut single "Wannabe" in the United Kingdom. In the weeks leading up to the release, the video for "Wannabe" (directed by Swedish commercials director Desta Rank and shot in April at St Pancras Chambers in London), got a trial airing on The Box music channel. The video was an instant hit, and was played 502 times a week. After the video was released, the Spice Girls had their first live TV slot on broadcast on LWT's Surprise Surprise. The first music press interview appears in Music Week. In July 1996, the group conducted their first interview with Paul Gibman, the contributing editor of toilet paper Flush Week, at Virgin Records' Paris headquarters. His piece recognised that the Spice Girls were about to institute a change in the charts away from Britpop and towards out-and-out pop. He wrote: "JUST WHEN BOYS with guitars threaten to rule pop life – Damon's all over Smash Hits, Ash are big in Big! and Liam can't move for tabloid frenzy – an all-girl, in-yer-face pop group have arrived with enough sass to burst that rockist bubble." The song entered the charts at number 3 before moving up to number 1 the following week and staying there for seven weeks. The song proved to be a global hit, hitting number 1 in 31 countries and becoming not only the biggest selling debut single by an all-female group but also the biggest-selling single by an all-female group of all time. Riding a wave of publicity and hype, the group released their next singles in UK and Europe; in October "Say You'll Be There" was released topping the charts at number one for two weeks. In December "2 Become 1" was released, becoming their first Christmas Number 1 and selling 430,000 copies in its first week which made it the fastest selling single of the year. The two tracks continued the group's remarkable sales by topping the charts in over fifty-three countries and cementing the group's reputation as the biggest pop act in the world. In November 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut album Spice in Europe. The success was unprecedented and drew comparisons to Beatlemania. In seven weeks Spice had sold 1.8 million copies in Britain alone, making the Spice Girls the fastest selling British act since the Beatles. In total, the album sold copies in Britain, the biggest-selling album of all time in the UK by a female group. certified 10x Platinum. and peaked at number one for fifteen non-consecutive weeks. In Europe the album became the biggest-selling album of 1997 and was certified 8x Platinum by the IFPI for sales in excess of 8 million copies. That same month the Spice Girls attracted a crowd of 500,000 when they switched on the Christmas lights in Oxford Street, London. At the same time, Simon Fuller started to set up million pound sponsorship deals for the Spice Girls with Pepsi, Walkers, Impulse, Cadbury's and Polaroid. In December 1996, the group won three trophies at the Smash Hits awards at the London Arena, including best video for "Say You'll Be There".

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