The Day Oasis Broke Up
One of the things that made Oasis so compelling was that they always seemed to be on the verge of imploding due to the endless verbal jousting between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher.
The two had been going at it since Day 1 it seemed, but following a dressing-room row literally moments before their headlining slot at Rock en Seine on Aug. 28, 2009 in Paris, the elder Gallagher reached his breaking point and walked out on the group.
"It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight,” Noel said in a statement released later that evening. "People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."
Noel then apologized to fans in Paris and to those who were planning on attending the two remaining dates of the tour, a financially successful one that had begun almost exactly a year earlier and subsequently traversed five continents. The jaunt was in support of the band’s seventh album, Dig Out Your Soul. Released in the fall of 2008, it was the best-received Oasis record since the one-two masterpiece punches of their 1994 debut Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? the following year.
Despite the critical and commercial triumph of Dig Out Your Soul – it topped the U.K. chart and landed at No. 5 in the U.S., the highest outing for an Oasis LP in more than a decade – and the more than two million fans who snapped up tickets to see them, the relationship between Liam and Noel had deteriorated to its lowest point. The pair had been reduced to sniping at each other on social media, their only offstage form of communication.
"It just happened,” Liam said of the disconnect in an interview that ran a week before the Rock en Seine gig. “He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him, that’s it. We’re grown men, you know what I mean, and as long as the music … as long as we do the tour, that’s all that matters.”
The rumor mill churned away with gossip about it being the final run for the celebrated Britpop outfit. It was somewhat typical fodder for the tabloids, especially in England, but this time it came true, though to see the tour expire just before reaching the finish line was particularly unanticipated.
Reports of what went down in that Paris dressing room varied. Support bands on the festival bill and unnamed sources were cited saying it was a vicious brawl, so bad that an ambulance had to be called. Two years after the bust-up, while promoting his High Flying Birds project, Noel finally detailed the situation, which he said started with thrown fruit and ended with a guitar smashed to sawdust.
“He was quite violent,” Noel revealed. “At that point, there hadn’t been any physical violence but it was kind of … it’s a bit like WWE wrestling and he’s like Macho Man Randy Savage, do you know what I mean? I’ll never forget that there’s all this to-ing and fro-ing going on and I’m looking at [bassist] Andy [Bell] and he’s sat there, constantly counting how many shoes he’s got on, not saying a word. I’m like, ‘Fucking hell’ and he isn’t saying anything. Liam kinda does the ‘Fuck you and fuck you and fuck you’ thing and he storms out of the dressing room. I don’t know why, but he picked up a plum and he threw it across the dressing room and it smashed against the wall. Now, part of me kind of wishes it did end like that because that would’ve been a fucking great headline: Plum Throws Plum and Finishes Oasis.
“So then he goes out the dressing room and, for whatever reason, he goes to his own dressing room and comes back with a guitar and starts wielding it like an ax,” Noel continued. “And I make light of it because it’s kind of what I do, but it’s a real unnecessarily violent act and he’s swinging this guitar around. He nearly took my face off with it. And it ended up on the floor and I put it out of its misery. There were people in the band not saying anything. It wasn’t even a big dressing room. We were all involved in it, you can’t not say anything. So I was like, ‘You know what, I’m fucking out of here.’ And at that point, the tour manager came in and just went, ‘Five minutes!’ And I walked out.”
Liam was quick to respond, but curiously didn’t address the actual event that spelled the demise of the band. Instead, he disputed Noel’s charges that the singer was trying to advertise his new clothing line, Pretty Green, in the Oasis tour program. More pointedly, he took issue with his sibling’s allegation that Liam had a hangover days before the Paris show that led to the cancellation of their headlining performance at that night’s V Festival in Chelmsford, England. The singer long claimed he had laryngitis, and even filed a lawsuit against Noel seeking an apology for the comments. He got one, in a backhanded sort of way, and the grievance was dropped.
The squabble that night in Paris was hardly the first time the Gallaghers had gotten into it since forming in the early '90s. According to Noel, though, a heady dispute they had before the final tour even got off the ground was a harbinger of things to come.
"Me and Liam had a massive, massive, massive fistfight three weeks before the world tour started, and fights like that in the past would always be easy to rectify but for some reason I wasn't going to let it go this time,” he said in 2015. “I was just like, 'Fuck this cunt.' And there was an atmosphere all the way around the world."
Appeals for an Oasis reunion or to headline some festival like Glastonbury are regular as the sunrise and sunset, often spearheaded by Liam in interviews or through his Twitter account where he fluctuates between calling his brother a potato and proposing they get the band back together. Noel remained nonplussed, declaring in 2019, “I’ve no desire at all to get back involved with Oasis.”
Post-split, the remaining members of Oasis continued on as Beady Eye for two albums to mixed reviews and called it a day in 2014 when Andy Bell returned to shoegaze legends Ride for a reunion. Liam has since embarked on a solo career, while Noel has found success with the High Flying Birds.