The sound of a million teenage hearts breaking could be heard around the world last night as One Direction’s Zayn Malik announced he was quitting the group (amid their current World Tour) to be “a normal 22 year old”. The future of 1D has been thrown into doubt, but the remaining members; Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Liam Payne have vowed to continue as a four-piece.
We look at pop groups of days gone by and ask : does one member calling it quits always lead to splits?
S Club 7
The epitome of squeaky clean pop were put together by fired Spice Girls manager, Simon Fuller in 1997. S Club 7 had a string of hits, including 4 UK number ones and their own TV show. However, member Paul Cattermole, tired of making bubblegum pop, quit the band in 2002 to return to his rock roots and reformed old band, Skua, a new-metal band he had formed at school in 1992. The six remaining members; Jo O’Meara, Rachel Stevens, Tina Barrett, Hannah Spearitt, Bradley McIntosh and Jon Lee dropped the 7 from their name and vowed to continue as a six-piece. However, S Club only lasted another year and split in 2003. The band have recently reformed and will be on tour later this year with the 7-strong original line-up, including a date at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.
The pop-punk trio burst onto the scene in 2002 with debut single, “What I Go To School For”. Matt Willis, James Bourne and Charlie Simpson went onto sell over 4 million albums worldwide, score 4 UK number one singles and inspire copycat band and real-life buddies, McFly. However, it was too good to last and Simpson’s decision to quit the band in December 2004 led to the announcement of their split in January 2005. Simpson went on to form Fightstar and more recently, launched his solo career, while Willis and Bourne both carved out semi-successful solo careers before joining forces with McFly in 2013 to form McBusted. The McFly/Busted hybrid have since played two sold-out tours across the world and released their self-titled debut album last year.
OMD frontman, Andy McCluskey formed this girl group in Liverpool in 1998. By 2001, Natasha Hamilton, Liz McClarnon and Kerry Katona had failed to make much of an impact with their pop-poor singles, “Right Now”, “See Ya” and “Follow Me”. Their entire future depended on the success of their next release; if it wasn’t a hit, the group were history. “Whole Again” not only scored the trio their first UK number one, but it also went to the top spot in 18 other countries. However, a pregnant Katona quit the band just days before the single’s release and was replaced by former Precious singer, Jenny Frost. The new look line-up went onto have a string of hits, including number one singles with their covers of Blondie’s “The Tide Is High” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”. The group announced in 2004 that they would be taking an extended break, but Hamilton admitted in 2012 that, in actual fact, the group had split as she had quit. The original Atomic Kitten reformed for The Big Reunion TV show in 2012 and kick off their “15 Years Of Atomic Kitten Tour” in June.
The biggest boyband of the 1990s had it all; good looks, big hits and an army of dedicated fans. Take That formed in 1990 and enjoyed a string of hits throughout the decade; “Relight My Fire”, “Pray”, “A Million Love Songs” and “Could It Be Magic?”, to name but a few. However, Robbie Williams’ departure in 1995 saw the four remaining members; Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Howard Donald vow to continue without him, but the news that every teen dreaded came in February 1996; Take That was over. Fast-forward to 2005 and Take That reformed (minus Williams who had since enjoyed a massively successful solo career) and went on to become bigger and better than they had ever been; they even recruited Williams to rejoin them for sixth studio album, “Progress” and on the subsequent tour in 2011. However, it was an old case of history repeating itself when Jason Orange unexpectedly quit the band in September 2014. The remaining trio; Barlow, Owen and Donald have decided to soldier on and released “III” in November 2014, which scored them their seventh UK number one album.
No-one knows more about surviving quitters than Sugababes! Formed in 1998, the girl group originally consisted of Mutya Buena, Siobhan Donaghy and Keisha Buchanan; they released their debut album, “One Touch” in November 2000, but Donaghy quit the band in 2001, later stating Buchanan’s “bullying” as the reason. Heidi Range (who was originally in Atomic Kitten, only to be replaced by Natasha Hamilton) replaced Donaghy and the group scored their first UK number one single with, “Freak Like Me” in 2002. Sugababes enjoyed immense popularity and frequent chart hits before Buena quit in 2005 and Amelle Berrabah replaced her. The last original Sugababe, Keisha Buchanan quit the band in 2009, and Eurovision Song Contest Entrant for that year, Jade Ewen took her place. Confused yet?! The group claimed “hiatus” in 2011 with Ewen later admitting that, in actual fact, they had split. Bizarrely, the original line up; Buchanan, Donaghy and Buena have formed MKS and are expected to release new material (written by Emeli Sande) very soon.
We remember them for their double denim and cheesy dance routines, but Irish girl group, B*Witched (Twins Keavy and Edele Lynch, Lindsay Armaou and Sinead O’Carroll) were something of a 90s pop success story; their first four singles went straight to the top spot here in the UK. It was a sickly sweet, but short success for the band; shortly after the release of second LP, “Awake & Breathe” in October 1999, B*Witched were dropped by record label, Sony. Despite initial plans to stick together and land a deal with another label, O’Carroll quit the band in 2002 and the band called it a day. B*Witched appeared in 2012’s The Big Reunion and have since toured and released EP, “Champagne Or Guinness” in 2014.
The bad boys of boybands defined the early 1990s with their brand of R&B-laced, garage pop. Formed in London in 1991, the band have sold over 18 million albums to date, collaborated with Gabrielle and are responsible for one of the greatest Christmas songs (albeit a little overplayed) of ALL time! However, Brian Harvey’s drug taking and glamorising of Ecstasy saw him sacked while Tony Mortimer quit. East 17 split in 1997. The band enjoyed a brief comeback in 1998 as E-17 with Harvey, but not Mortimer, only to split up again in 1999. In February 2006, the four original members played a comeback gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, but a punch up between Mortimer and Harvey saw Mortimer quit (again!). Mortimer told DJ Zoe Ball in 2009 that they band were planning a comeback and they reformed in 2010, only for Harvey to quit following missed rehearsals and cancelled gigs. East 17’s fifth studio album, “Dark Light” was released in 2012.
The 90s version of ABBA formed in 1997; Steps scored a string of Top 10 hits, sold over 20 million albums worldwide and supported Britney Spears on tour. The band released their debut album, “Step One” in 1998 and the rest is cheesy pop history; Faye Tozer, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott Lee, Ian “H” Watkins and Lee Latchford Evans were undoubtedly one of the cringiest pop groups of the decade, but still one of the biggest! The release of their Greatest Hits compilation, “Gold” (ABBA, anyone?) in 2001 was met by rumours of a split. The rumours became reality on Boxing Day in 2001 when the band announced they were splitting up; however, it was later revealed that both Claire and H had quit at the end of their “Gold : Greatest Hits Tour” some time earlier amid unhappiness and tension. A few ill-advised attempts at a solo career and inevitable “Celebrity Big Brother” appearances later, Steps reformed in 2011 and went on to tour (VERY successfully) and released fourth studio LP, “Light Up The World” in 2012.
The antedote to squeaky clean, mummy’s boys boybands came in the form of this five-piece, aptly named 5ive. Formed in 1997 by the brains behind Spice Girls, 5ive; Ritchie Neville, Sean Conlon, Scott Robinson, J Brown and Abz Love released their debut offering, “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” in November of that year. A string of hits, Smash Hits Awards and a questionable Queen cover later, Conlon left the group following a mental breakdown caused by the stress of being in the band. This was kept quiet for some time and disguised by management as “glandular fever” for the press, but 5ive called it quits in late 2001. 5ive took part in 2012’s The Big Reunion, minus J Brown who refused any involvement and have since toured, but Love announced in 2014 that he had quit the group for good.
Love them or loathe them, Spice Girls were the biggest pop phenomenon of the 1990s. Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, Victoria Adams, Melanie Chisholm and Melanie Brown burst onto the pop scene in a blur of infectious pop, easy to copy dance moves and no bras (!) in 1996 with their debut single, “Wannabe”. A string of hits singles, a Rolling Stone cover, a footballer husband and their own movie (complete with cameos from Richard E Grant, Sir Elton John, Michael Barrymore and Meat Loaf) later, the biggest band in the world came crashing down. Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell quit the group in 1998 while Baby, Sporty, Scary and Posh vowed Spice Girls would continue without her. They did, but disappointing third LP, “Forever” spelled the beginning of the end and Spice Girls announced in 2000 that they were taking a break to concentrate on solo projects. The reign of Girl Power was over . . . Until 2007 when the group announced they were reforming and embarked on a mammoth World Tour; their London date sold out in just 38 seconds! Rumours have resurfaced again in 2014 that the girl group would be reforming again(!) but Victoria Beckham has stated she has no interest in future Spice Girls projects.
Before Mel B, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Mel C, Mrs Redknapp was Louise Nurding, a quarter of 90s girl group, Eternal, alongside sisters, Easther and Vernie Bennett and Kelle Bryan. The UK’s answer to En Vogue, Eternal released their debut album, “Always & Forever” in November 1993. Nurding quit the band in 1995 before recording of their second LP began and went onto enjoy a successful solo career. The band continued as a trio and scored their first UK number one in 1997 with, “I Wanna Be The Only One”, a duet with BeBe Winans. Bryan was sensationally sacked by the Bennett sisters in 1998 and replaced by TJ Arlette, who quit after a matter of days and the sisters carried on as a duo until 2000. 2013’s The Big Reunion saw Easther and Vernie Bennett and Kelle Bryan reform Eternal as a trio; they performed at The Hammersmith Apollo in March 2014.
1D will be hoping they can pull off with these guys did; originally launched as a five-piece boyband in 1998, Westlife went onto become one of the great pop juggernauts of our generation. Cheesy cover versions, matching suits and bar stool stage routines aside, Westlife did what no other boyband has to date; 26 Top 10 hits, 14 number one singles, seven UK number one albums and 44 million records sold worldwide. However, five become four in March 2004 when Brian McFadden quit the band to spend more time with his family aka pursue a solo career. McFadden went onto release four solo LPs and score one UK number one. Westlife, however, had the last laugh; Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Kian Egan continued as a four piece and went onto bigger and better things; they went onto score another 3 number one albums without McFadden and their biggest selling single to date with their take on, “You Raise Me Up” in 2005 and they played to 80, 000 people at Croke Park to mark 10 Years Of Westlife in 2008. In October 2011, Westlife announced they were splitting up following a forthcoming Farewell Tour and Greatest Hits album. The band played their final gig at Dublin’s Croke Park on 23rd June 2012; the gig was screened in over 200 cinemas across the world. Rumours of a possible reunion was peddled by UK media late last year, but the band have vowed they will “never reunite”.