Inside Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow's feud and friendship over the years

16 July 2021, 14:36

Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have been friends for years
Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have been friends for years. Picture: Alamy

By Naomi Bartram

A timeline of Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow's famous fallout over the years...

Cast your minds back to 1991 and you might remember Take That hitting the charts with their debut single Do What U Like’.

Three decades years later, and the boys have come a long way since their early days, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

In fact, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow have come to blows a fair few times over the years, before eventually calling a truce and reuniting.

So, let’s take a look back at their friendship…

The start of Take That

The band was formed back in 1990, when Robbie was just 16 years old and Gary was 19, along with their bandmates Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald.

Take That were formed in 1990
Take That were formed in 1990. Picture: Alamy

While things looked to be going well for the five piece, Robbie is said to have been struggling behind-the-scenes and was becoming frustrated with his role in the band.

After some friction over the type of music Take That were making, Robbie admitted he was partying too much and had alcohol and drug issues.

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The fall out

The boys fell out when Robbie ditched Take That rehearsals to go to Glastonbury with the Gallagher brothers, and he decided to leave in 1995.

According to the Daily Mirror, they were in the middle of their Nobody Else world tour, with Robbie later explaining: “The last few months I was a wreck. The night before we all went out. I drank myself stupid.

Robbie Williams left Take That in 1995
Robbie Williams left Take That in 1995. Picture: Alamy

“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.

“Then I started to cry. I went away an angry young man and I blamed Gary. But the truth is that Take That had two guys who wanted to be the front man.”

Robbie’s solo career

After Robbie left, things got tense between the boys and Robbie is said to have branded Gary 'clueless' and said the group, "had all the creativity of morons".

He said at the time: "I hated our music and in the end I also hated myself.”

Smooth Sessions with Gary Barlow

When Take That then split for good in 1996, Gary accused his former bandmate of being jealous of his £6.5million fortune which he had earned from songwriting.

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Robbie shot to global superstardom in 1997 when he released his first single 'Angels', and went on to sell millions of albums worldwide.

But that didn’t stop him throwing insults at Gary, saying: “My problem has always been with Gary. It was always with Gary."

After his own album failed to climb the charts and he was dropped by his label, Gary then took a break from the public eye and continued to write songs for other artists.

Gary Barlow brought Take That back together in 2006
Gary Barlow brought Take That back together in 2006. Picture: Alamy

He has since admitted: "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.”

The return of Take That

After dealing with his own issues away from the spotlight, Gary decided to get Take That back together in 2006 without Robbie.

He tried to put the past behind him and invited Robbie to the hotel he was staying in while he was in LA.

But this didn’t exactly go to plan, and after an ‘uncomfortable’ meeting, Robbie is said to have left within ten minutes.

They tried to bury the hatchet again when Robbie invited Gary to his home, and they ended up chatting about everything that had happened over the years.

Gary later admitted: "Living with that kind of feud isn’t right. The Chat was like an exorcism."

Take That reunited for the first time in 15 years back in 2010
Take That reunited for the first time in 15 years back in 2010. Picture: Alamy

"Rob felt that for the last year of Take That, he was crying out to every one of us,” Gary said.

“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.

“What happened between me and Rob always bothered me.”

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Robbie and Gary reuniting on stage

Four years after Take That got back together, Robbie joined the group for their Progress album and tour in 2010.

Writing the song ‘Shame’ together, the pair opened up about their broken relationship and fixing things as adults.

They now seem to be back on track for good and have performed together on numerous occasions, including on the X Factor in 2018.

The Take That boys also held a special gig for fans during lockdown, but without Jason Orange, who quit in 2014.