25 years ago sobbing teenagers all over Europe were desperately in each other’s arms. In Germany, the “Bravo” set up an emergency hotline. In the UK, a suicide-endangered foundation comforted grieving teenagers over the phone.
The boy group Take That, which delighted its predominantly female fans with hits like “Babe”, “Pray” or “Never Forget” and stormed the charts in Europe, announced their split at a press conference.
The tabloid media had speculated that the singer and his bandmates Howard Donald, Mark Owen and Jason Orange would go their separate ways in the future.
Just on Robbie Williams’ birthday, Take That confirmed the end. Williams had left the boy band a good six months earlier in a dispute and thus triggered the first big fan drama. Even then, the “Dr. Sommer” team from “Bravo” had to give consolation.
Take That fan Anna-Ulrike Soldat was twelve years old at the time and had taped the walls in her room with posters of the band. “When Robbie left the band in 1995, it was extremely sad for me,” she says, “and I even cried and thought it was all pretty unfair.” She no longer knows exactly how she found out about the breakup of the rest of the band – from the music channel VIVA or from “Bravo”.
In the Take That home country, the reactions were not long in coming. During the press conference, a BBC reporter reported on desperate teenage girls who had turned to the station. “A 14-year-old fan just called in tears. What message do you have for her?” He asked the quartet. “I guess we’re sorry,” Mark Owen squeezed. He looked embarrassed.
Anna-Ulrike then received a letter from the Take That fan club, of which she was a member. “We are of course aware that this announcement was very sudden and shocking for all Take That fans,” said the comforting letter, “but we want to assure you that Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason will not disappear from the scene . ”
Not only fans like Anna-Ulrike, who bought Take That posters, mugs, T-shirts and bed linen in addition to the CDs of their idols, suffered. Even for the musicians themselves, the separation was “a real low point”, Barlow admitted in an interview with the German press agency in 2018. “That was actually a ten-year low.” Only Williams was able to establish himself immediately and permanently as a solo artist. On the other hand, Barlow even withdrew completely as a singer at times after his second album flopped.
As you know, the story took a positive turn. “We had to part ways to come back,” said Mark Owen in the dpa interview. In 2005, Take That actually returned. And from 2010 there was even a temporary reunion with Williams including a celebrated tour and a successful album.
The old bandmates are good friends today.
Take That is currently a trio. In the UK, the three of Barlow, Owen and Donald continue to fill stadiums with their concerts. Bandleader Barlow, who has long been successful as a solo artist, expects Take That to be back on stage with five people at some point. “We’ll do that again,” he said. “I’m sure.” An emergency hotline is probably no longer needed.