Behind the Beef: A Look at the Gallagher Brothers’ Heated Sibling Rivalry

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Videos by American Songwriter

They say you should never mix family and business. Whether or not the Gallagher brothers, Noel and Liam, were aware of this old adage is neither here nor there, because they did it anyway.

Noel and Liam Gallagher became well-known in the rock world for creating the band ’90s band Oasis. The band had some pretty epic moments (read: “Wonderwall“) and almost reached the level of fame that comes synoymous with bands like The Rolling Stones. A bitter sibling rivalry, however, plagued the brothers and Oasis by extension.

Keep reading for a blow-by-blow breakdown of the Gallagher brothers’ infamous feud.

Where It All Started

Oasis officially formed in 1991 in Manchester, England. (Twenty-one years after The Beatles broke up, a band that had been inspirations for Oasis.) The founding members included Liam Gallagher on lead vocals and tambourine, Paul Arthurs on guitar, Paul McGuigan on bass guitar, and Tony McCarroll on drums. It was only after a few rehersals that Noel Gallagher, Liam’s older brother by five years, joined the band.

In a 2016 documentary titled Supersonic, the brother’s mother, Peggy, revealed that she knew Oasis was doomed from the start. The brothers had seemingly always been engaged in one argument or another. For instance, in the same film, Liam recalled the spark for one of their earlier arugements, “One night I come in pissed and I couldn’t find the light switch so I pissed all over [Noel’s] new stereo. I think it basically boils down to that.”

Then in 1994, just as Oasis was about to hit it big, the brothers did an interview with British journalist John Harris. The transcript of that interview was later released under the title “Wibbling Rivalry” and features intense back and forth arguing between brothers.

The Infamous MTV Unplugged Episode

1996 was when the cracks in the Gallagher brothers’ relationship really began to show.

Oasis was set to perform on the MTV Unplugged series after the hugely successful release of their second studio album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? During this time, between 1989 and 1999 when the series ran most consistently, a performance on MTV Unplugged was a career milestone for artists. (The first epsiodes saw performances from the likes of Aerosmith, Elton John, Sinéad O’Connor, and others.)

But, when it came down to it, Liam was largely absent. During the two-week rehearsal period for the performance, Liam only made three appearances, reportedly wearing the same clothes each time.

“The day of the performance, he hadn’t turned up and there were rumors that he’d been out drinking for a couple of days,” Noel stated in an interview after the fact, “and nobody knew where he was. About an hour before we were due to go on, he turned up, absolutely shitfaced. We said, well look, let’s see if you can sing a couple of songs, and it was fucking dreadful.”

Oasis ended up going on without Liam, and Noel took over Liam’s duties as frontman. Despite this dramatic no-show on stage, Liam was in the house that night. The younger Gallagher watched the performance from the balcony seating, heckling his brother during the performance.

A Screeching Halt for Oasis

Fast forward 13 years and Oasis calls it quits for good after years of bitter disputes and a decline in band popularity.

On August 28, 2009, the band was set to play a gig near Paris, France, for the Rock en Seine music festival. The day of, during the middle of the set of another band at the festival, it was announced that Oasis would not be performing after all. A few hours later Noel issued a public statement, “It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight,” the statement read. “People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer. Apologies to all the people who bought tickets for the shows in Paris, Konstanz, and Milan [later Oasis tour dates].”

Since that day, the brothers have had little contact with each other. In fact, in a recent interview, Liam revealed that he hasn’t seen Noel in 10 years. “The last time I saw Noel,” he said, “was at a football match about 10 years ago. It’s a shame, isn’t it?”

(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

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