Photography by Katie O'Neill
Noel Gallagher is a singer and songwriter. Most famously the lead guitarist, primary songwriter and co-lead vocalist of Oasis. His songs have been adopted by many as Mancunian anthems. After the band’s split in 2009 , Noel formed Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (NGHFB). He is one of the most successful and influential songwriters in British music history.
Oasis, 1997 (Photo - Jill Furmanovsky)
Noel was born in 1967 in the Longsight area of Manchester, to Irish Catholic parents. Shortly after his younger brother Liam's birth in 1972, the family moved to Ashby Avenue and then Cranwell Drive in Burnage. As the eldest child, Paul was given his own bedroom while Noel had to share his bedroom with Liam.
Noel began playing the guitar at the age of twelve, and became a roadie and technician for Inspiral Carpets when he was 21. He learnt that his younger brother Liam had joined a band called The Rain, which eventually became Oasis; Liam invited him to join the group as manager. After rejecting the offer, Gallagher agreed to join the band, on the condition that he would take creative control of the group and become its sole songwriter and lead guitarist.
Noel & his signature Union Jack guitar
Noel & Liam - Manchester, 1994 (Photo - Kevin Cummins)
The band's debut album, Definitely Maybe (1994), was a widespread critical and commercial success. Their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), reached the top of the album charts in many countries. Noel wrote most of the songs for both of these albums whilst living in India House on Whitworth Street in Manchester - Noel’s location choice for the Greater Mancunians photo shoot.
India House is literally ground zero in the story of my musical life! I moved into a flat there with my then girlfriend in 1989, broke and bored. By the time I left in 1993 I’d joined my little brother’s band and had written Live Forever and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star!
Oasis, - Slane Castle, Ireland, 1995 (Photo - Jill Furmanovsky)
Oasis's time was marked by turbulence, especially during the peak of Britpop, during which Noel was involved in several disputes with Liam; their conflicts and wild lifestyles regularly made tabloid headlines. They drank heavily, abused drugs, fought fans, critics, peers and each other. On 28 August 2009, Noel quit Oasis after a fight with Liam. Noel posted a statement on his message board called "Tales from the Middle of Nowhere" on the band's website announcing his departure.
Noel Gallagher is the finest songwriter of his generation – George Martin (Beatles producer)
Noel embarked on his solo career forming Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (NGHFB) in 2010, the year after the Oasis split. NGHFB have established an avid international fan base and released their fourth album Council Skies in 2023 to critical acclaim.
NGHFB - Wythenshawe Pk, Manchester, 2023
Noel, Gallagher, 2019 (Photo - Sharon Latham)
Noel is constantly questioned on the likelihood of Liam and Oasis getting back together. His replies include: ”Would you go on holiday with your ex wife?” and “I fu**king dare Liam to call me”.
THE SHOOT: India House, Whitworth Street, Manchester
Where Noel lived in the late 80s/early 90s and wrote some of Oasis' greatest hits
Student reflection: Katie O'Neill
Noel had chosen India House (IH) on Whitworth Steet for the photography. It was here where he lived in the late 80s/early 90s and wrote most of the songs for Oasis’ first two albums. We met him at Refuge and walked the short distance to IH. Noel was in good spirit, chatty and keen to tell us of his time living in the apartments.
We started the shoot in the entrance way to IH and used our LED wand to add extra light to the dimly lit stairs. We then photographed Noel against the IH brass name plate at the front of the building. This gave me one of the key images from the shoot. By this time there were a number of onlookers watching and filming Noel from across the street.
For the second part of the shoot, we took Noel to a quiet side street across from IH to capture some close ups and take the opportunity to use a Victorian backdrop of Manchester. Noel was easy to work with and happy to be directed and posed. We had one final chat, in which he told us would be more than happy to come to the exhibition preview in April.
Noel is a fantastic addition to the project and I am so pleased that I got the chance to photograph him. I look forward to seeing my photo of Noel in the exhibition and hopefully get the chance to meet him again at the preview evening.