Back in 1991, a boyband called Take That burst onto the music scene with their debut single ‘Do What U Like’. Made up of Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams, the band continued to make waves on the UK charts with a further two singles, before they finally reached the top 10 in 1992 with ‘It Only Takes a Minute’.
From that point on, Take That went from strength to strength, building a strong army of fans along the way. In 1993, they released ‘Pray’ which became the first of 12 number one singles for the band. Over the next three years, the band continued to triumph, with chart-topping hits, numerous awards and an ever-expanding fanbase in both the UK and beyond. In 1995, they released ‘Back For Good’ which became their most successful hit, reaching number one in 31 countries. It also reached number seven in the US, which, at that time, was the highest ever charting single by a British boyband in the US.
Later in 1995, things started to crumble, with the departure of Robbie Williams from the band. Determined to carry on, the rest of the band continued for several months as a four-piece. However, on the 13th of February 1996, the band held a press conference in which Gary Barlow uttered the infamous words, “From today Take That is no more.” The news shattered millions of hearts across the world – in fact, the reaction was so severe that the Samaritans actually created a special helpline for the distraught fans. Whilst some went on to have solo careers, this was the end of Take That as we knew it.
In 2005, ITV aired a documentary called Take That: For the Record, which became the catalyst for one of the most spectacular comebacks of all time. The band, minus Robbie, went on The Ultimate Tour, performing their greatest hits across UK arenas and stadiums, before releasing ‘Patience’ in 2006, their first new piece of music in over a decade. This sparked a whole new era for the band, racking in even more number one hits, awards and incredible albums.
After a further two tours and albums as a four-piece, Robbie rejoined the group in 2010. The band released a new album called Progress, before embarking on a mammoth stadium tour in 2011, featuring a giant robot called OM. The band took a hiatus after the tour, which saw the members pursuing individual endeavours, including Gary releasing his first solo album in over 14 years, Since I Saw You Last.
2014 saw the much anticipated return of the band, minus Robbie and Jason, who no longer wanted to be a part of Take That. Gary, Howard and Mark decided to continue as a three-piece, with the III era proving to be just as phenomenal for the band. With a mammoth arena tour under their belts, and a sold out performance at Hyde Park, Take That proved to all the doubters that they were stronger than ever as a three-piece.
During the past few weeks, the band have created mass hysteria with the announcement of the Wonderland era, with a new album and arena/stadium tour due next year. The 22-date tour was expanded to 30 within minutes of tickets going on sale due to the high demand. Further dates have since been added.
With over 25 years of incredible music, breathtaking shows and ever-changing line ups under their belts, one thing has always remained the same – their loyal fanbase.
But what is it about Take That, which makes the fans love and support them so much? We spoke to some Thatters to find out!
Tammy – 37 – Rayleigh
“I first started liking Take That right at the beginning and was desperate to follow them everywhere but mum wouldn’t let me so I settled for coach trips to their concerts and a room filled with posters. I love them because no word of a lie they have helped me though everything, from childbirth to the dentist haha. Even at random on the radio, they just appear when I need them the most. My dream came true in 2013 when I finally met Gary, and later on all three remaining members.”
Michelle – 27 – Tyne and Wear
“I love Take That as they are the best band ever. They split and broke so many hearts but managed to mend so many when they reformed. Their concerts are phenomenal and each time they exceed everyone’s expectations. They started as 5 then 4 then 5 then 3 and maybe 4 again with Robbie but either way they still put on fantastic shows. Many non Thatters say, ‘oh everyone who loved them back in 90’s are the only ones who love them’. I tell them straight out that they are wrong and Gary himself has proven this on 30/9/2016 by surprising a young teen on her milestone birthday. Many 90’s fans have had children who are now the next generation of Thatters. We love you guys so much.”
Orla – 13 – Ayrshire
“I’ve loved Take That since I was about six! When I started singing in my school choir, the first song I sung was ‘Rule The World’ and I’ve loved them ever since. Last year I lost my grandpa to cancer, and Take That’s music really helped me. The more I listened to their songs, the more I wanted to write my own ones to express my emotions. Take That is life!”
Laura – 35 – Hampshire
“I have loved Take That since I was 9 years old. My mum took me to every concert. Cue the day they split, devastating wasn’t the word. I was 15 years old and in school when I heard. I thought my life would never be the same again as they were my world. Fast forward 9 years and you can imagine my delight when they reformed. Being a Thatter is all about friendships and love. I joined a Facebook group dedicated to Gary Barlow in 2015. Since then, the ladies have encouraged me to go out and meet the boys. I’ve since met Gary twice and it’s what I had dreamed of for 25 years! I’ve also met the best of friends on there. So much so that within a year I was invited to one of their weddings. Without the love of these amazing boys, none of these friendships would have happened and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Sara – 31 – Texas
“I think it was ’96 when my aunt had come from overseas (where she was living abroad at the time) and said she had a surprise for me. She gave me a bag and in it were tapes from Take That and I remember I gave her a look of ‘who are these’. She said ‘it’s your favorite band’ and I said ‘no they’re not’ but I thought Howard Donald was cute so I gave it a chance – and wouldn’t you know, I became a fan a bit late, but thanks to my aunt I had their first tapes and loved it. I always wished I would have been in London to see them. I still do to this day but thank God for the Internet now. What I like about the boys is their charisma and charm. They seem so down to earth and look very much like they have their feet planted down to earth. I see some artists and they seem cocky and arrogant like ‘yeah I’m here and you can’t touch me because I’m this superstar’. The boys don’t give out that vibe. They know what they have is something magical and they keep the magic alive so to say.”
“I was so young when I first heard them, and I remember saying to myself ‘well they’re not that bad’. I was a New Kids On The Block fanatic at the time and they were everything to me, so all of some sudden this new boy band came into my life and my whole perspective changed. I fell in love with their song ‘If This Is Love’ and I remember singing it to a picture of Take That and NKOTB. I remained and remain supportive of them and their individual projects because of the fact that they are talented and well rounded guys. Each has a special quality and I hope to one day meet them. It’s funny how a mistake from my aunt caused a life long love for their music which I will forever be grateful to have discovered. Howard (my first overseas love), Gary, Mark,Jason,and of course Robbie will always have a special place in my heart.”
Sam – 35 – Staffs
“I have grown up with TT from the very start, my cousin got me into them. I collected all the memorabilia (which I’ve kept) and I fell in love with their different personalities. I love their music and the shows they put on are always amazing. I just go into my little TT bubble. Gary is my idol and having met them a few times, I can say they really do love their fans and are always so kind to us. Listening to their music reminds me of my youth and I have met so many new friends through the love of the band.”
Emma – 35 – Jersey Channel Islands
“I’ve been a Take That fan since 1991, I was 10. My first crush was Robbie Williams and I was to the point of being obsessed. I would ask my mum to buy everything that was Take That and I was a member of the fan club. I used to enter all the competitions to meet them and would sit in front of the TV and sob my heart out if I didn’t win. As I lived in Jersey I was far too young to travel to a concert back then which was so upsetting for me when they split up. My mum promised me that if they ever got back together she would take me to their comeback gig. So in May 2006 my mum kept to her word and at the MEN Arena in Manchester I saw my idols for the first time. I was 26, it was amazing with tears galore.”
“What I love about them is the connection they have with their fans, especially Mark. He always makes the effort to shake our hands on the front row. They remember us too which is amazing considering how big their fan base is. Back in the 90s, they made us feel like they really liked every single one of us and they felt really close to us in age. Their songs are simply iconic and mean a lot. When I listen to their songs it takes me right back to the 90s. I travel on my own to gigs from Jersey and camp out on my own, however, I have met some amazing people on tour that are and will be friends for life. I had one of my Thatter friends come over a few weeks ago to stay with me to see Dan Hadfield (Gary Barlow tribute act). I never feel alone in the queue – all Thatters make each other feel so welcome and for those few days we are a family and look out for each other.”
Jessica – UK
“My story begins back in 1990 when I was 10. My childhood friend dragged me along to Leeds Corn Exchange to see this new boyband (Take That). I remember after their performance they walked up the stairs where we were stood and shook hands with us, I then became a fan. Two years later my dad died after a long battle after getting run over, the only thing to help me through it at 12 years old was locking myself in my room listening to Take That. At the same time, my friends were no longer fans of TT so I couldn’t go to any concerts etc on my own but I always vowed one day that I would!”
“Years flew by, family life took over etc, but fast forward to 2015, I won tickets to a secret gig in London. Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Even the radio station phoned me a few times to make sure I was ok! Then I managed to get a ticket for the tour on my own but I knew I would be surrounded by other fans. When Gary had to do an interview for The Girls in my home town I had to go! I waited five hours in the cold but after 25 years of waiting to meet one, just one member of TT, it was so worth it …..I went nearly every day when the show was in Leeds and happily got to meet Gary a couple of times more but the shame of this story is I still never got to say thank you for the music that got me through losing my dad.”
Tania – Fareham
“I’m a new loopy Thatter, having fallen in love with Gary’s Since I Saw You Last album I had to see the tour. The lyrics on every track spoke to me after losing my husband Simon. Having got my follow on Twitter, I DM’d Gary and told him and he replied “I’m so glad you found comfort in my words” I nearly died on the spot! My late husband was a punk through the 80’s and only listened to The Damned and Sex Pistols when I was around yet I found at least half a dozen videos of TT in his belongings and all of Robbie’s solo CDS. The ‘Angels’ CD had fallen to bits but we played it at his funeral along with ‘I’d Wait for Life’. The first two lines crippled the congregation.”
“When Gary announced the tour, I thought, “I’m not missing that”. I’m late to be a crazy fan girl, but enough to go to 9 gigs in the end – I just couldn’t get enough of that adrenaline, coming out on a high that lasted til the next one. I had young kids all through the 90’s so whilst I couldn’t go to gigs I was liking and buying the music though. I’ve met the loveliest people in queues at stupid o’clock all over the country. I’ve even made life long friends from all over Europe even though I didn’t join the Europe leg of the tour. I also went to Hyde Park on a diamond ticket which was awesome, one of the biggest adrenaline rushes of my life!”
“I’ve had Gary’s signature tattoo on my arm. One in dedication to the tour and a beautiful ‘Never Forget’ higher up. I also have Howard’s ‘Speak Without Words’ in beautiful script across my heart. I switched adoration to Howard at the TTIII album launch when I discovered his sense of humour and naughtiness. I asked him if he was hot as he had the softest polo neck jumper on. He gave me the naughtiest wink and said “always”, my knees went weak! I can never thank TT and our gorgeous Thatters enough for giving me my life back after losing my soulmate and best friend.”
Andrea – 46 – Glasgow
“As soon as I heard them singing ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ in 1992, bam, that was it! They are such good looking lads from day one till now, they have just gotten so better with age. Mark and Robbie were always my faves back in the day with Gary a close third but over the years my love for Gary has grown with him taking first place with Mark a close second followed by Robbie as a close third. I think they are just such down to earth men and are just so genuine. 13th February 1996 was the saddest day of any Thatter’s life but we were all so overjoyed when they did the documentary ‘For The Record’ and then got back together. Like many others as well as the lads, I couldn’t believe how much of a comeback it became, probably bigger and better than they have ever been.”
“I’m so proud to be an original Thatter – I love that all the original Thatters are all around as well as a new generation of Thatters. I have met some lovely friends through the love of Take That, three of them that I eventually met at Hyde Park in July when Take That headlined the BST Summertime in Hyde Park. I’m going to meet some more next year when Take That tour, some more from the UK, some from Europe and some from the US and Canada. That’s what I love about Take That, the amazing friendships between Thatters throughout the world.”
Helen – 49 – Wales
“I loved Take That’s music right from the start but it wasn’t until I saw them perform live for the first time on the Beautiful World tour that they became my firm favourites. I was so impressed by their energy and enthusiasm and the fact that seeing them perform live was more than just a gig, it was being part of a real show, a spectacle for both eyes and ears! Since then, me and my daughter have become huge fans and have seen the boys on a number of occasions, on their tours, at Radio 2, at signings, at Jingle Bell Ball and at their BBC Radio intimate concert.”
“I love the camaraderie and banter that exists between them, the way they can bring an entire stadium together with their music, the fact that their music delights young and old equally. I also love the boys’ personalities, which complement each other beautifully. The highlight of every Take That concert for me is seeing every member of the audience do the Never Forget dance moves and then hearing Gary tell everybody to have a safe journey home. It’s like being part of a giant hen party, a place where for two hours you can forget reality and immerse yourself in the wonderful Take That bubble. Thank you boys for being so amazingly humble and down-to-earth even after all these years of fame, and for making your fans feel valued. It really is a pleasure to be a Thatter!”
Jess – 18 – Newcastle
“I’ve been a Take That fan since I was 11 and now I’m 18, but so many amazing things have happened over these few years from meeting the boys, to having Mark and Gary following me on Twitter, to the number of gigs I’ve been to with my mum who is my best friend and my Take That tour buddy and the amount of amazing friends and memories I have made through them. They always say that dreams do come true and they sure do. I’ve managed to meet Gary three times and Mark four times. Unfortunately I’ve not met Howard yet but over these years, every time I see them I love them even more. They are so down to earth, with hearts of gold. They have so much time for their fans and they get to know you as people so when you see them they smile cause they recognise you.”
“When I go to any gigs I couldn’t be happier as I’m surrounded by all my fellow Take That lovers and the friendships that are made through these boys is amazing. I have a whole new friendship group who all share the same love and passion for the boys and these people are life long friends! Gary, Mark and Howard are the reason I smile. They are so amazing and talented and they give so much to us fans. No one should ever say anything bad about them as they are so amazing in every way!”
“I also campaigned to get Gary to my 18th birthday this year. I campaigned for seven months and my campaign team found out he wanted to come and be there but unfortunately due to work commitments he was unable to come in the end. But I received a lovely birthday message off him and to know that my idol wanted to be at my birthday is the most amazing feeling in the world! These boys are my idols and always will be!”
Kayleigh – 20 – Ireland
“The reason I love Take That is because they care for their fans so much. They are the reason I feel happy when I’m down, all I have to do is listen to their music and I am instantly happier.”
Liam – 15 – Europe
“I love Take That because they never fail to cheer me up. I became a fan in 2013 when I was going through some stuff because I found comfort in their music and their lyrics. They make me feel loved and hugged and I feel like I’m part of a functional family. Boybands always make you feel like they really care about you and love you and they always tell you that they’re never going to hurt you. I love that. I love being part of the Take That fandom, part of the take that family. I don’t think I would be here without Take That today, they saved my life and I’ll be forever thankful to have them in my life.”
Widya – 33 – Indonesia
“I’ve been a loyal fan of Take That since I was in junior high school. There’s not a day that passes without me mentioning Take That. They’ve been my inspiration for years. It has never been easy for me to meet them since I live thousands of miles away. But, no matter how far, I have managed to go to their concerts in London several times. I travelled a lot…….that’s when I was healthy. In early 2013, I was diagnosed with a very rare autoimmune disease, my life turned upside down since then. I’m in a wheelchair now. I’ve been bedridden for more than 3 years, I hardly ever step out of my house. It became even harder for me to see Take That. However, Take That is one of the big reasons why I fight for my life. The thought that I could see them live in concert lifts up my spirit. I bought their concert ticket last year but I couldn’t make it because I was too weak to travel far.”
“This year, they came to Bangkok and Singapore, which was closer to my hometown. I, without a doubt, bought tickets, booked my flights. I amazed myself that I could finally be brave enough to fly just because I want to see Take That! (This is the girl who never really goes out anywhere except hospital since being ill). God blessed me more than I expected, not only I was able to attend their concert, I won a meet & greet quiz, so I could finally meet them in person after 21 years of waiting, with the bonus being accompanied by my bestfriends…. isn’t that just amazing, my ultimate dream come true! They were so warm and lovely. I’m lost for words to say how kind they are. Take That surely keeps me going strong. I can always count on them to make me happy. Take That is like my oxygen, my vitamins, they’ve put so much positive energy in me. As crazy as it sounds, I plan to go to their concert in 2017, I will fight hard so I can be strong enough to travel to London. I will never give up and I will stay strong getting through my difficult situation, it’s all because of Take That!”
Nancy – Raleigh
“The reason why I love Take That…well, I always have, but in 2015 I managed to get some song lyrics from my dead husband to them which he wrote to me years ago. They transformed it into a beautiful song. It’s called ‘Bird in your Hand’, which is on the 2015 edition of III. Mark was touched by the lyrics and they said they were going to try… and 8 months later I was told that they had a song and wanted to put it on their album. It was all Mark’s idea… my husband died of alcoholism and it struck a nerve with Mark due to his past. I still find it hard to believe. They credited my husband as a song writer and even I got a little thank you mention in the album booklet.”
Charlie – 31 – Ipswich
“Take That first got me into music! I was too young to see them in concert but have loved them every since, like only a Thatter would know. My parents know they come a very close second , my partner too! This is how Take That make me feel! They reach out in their songs and sing about normal every day stuff, they really care for their fans, and let’s face it, how many acts put on a tour show with as much effort just for us! They just really connect with me and I’m emotional when a tour ends, or I re-watch the DVDs, nothing other than family gets me like that.”
Jase – Frodsham
“God, where to start when it comes to why I love Take That?! I have loved them since the 90’s. It was quite hard for me to fully come out as a Thatter back then. All my close friends knew of my love for them but I didn’t really advertise it. With no social media it was hard to find like minded individuals, but the day they came back in 2006 I welcomed it with open arms and decided to fully embrace what this band does for me. They, above any other band ever, make me happy. Their music is a soundtrack to so many people’s lives and every fan has a certain song for a certain mood.”
“In 2006, I decided to give up other things that didn’t fulfil me, for example spending money on watching sports etc and leaving stadiums miserable. I have never left a concert unhappy, so I decided to follow TT at home and abroad as much as I could with work commitments etc. It’s not just limited to gigs though. Anything they’re involved in doing really, whether that be on X Factor or other TV appearances, I’ve got a network of knowledgeable Thatters and we find out things. Our main link is obviously Take That but you make good friends out of it when you all have one common obsession. I will continue to follow Take That for as long as I can and enjoy their music, old and new. I’m known locally for my obsession and as I said, they plain and simply make me happy and who can begrudge someone that? I get ridiculed for it sometimes but it’s water off a duck’s back. Those that don’t understand, don’t matter.”
Reann – UK
“I’ve loved the boys since I was about 11. My sister died around that time, so I sort of put everything into supporting them since then. Their music and their attitudes have helped me throughout my life. It’s great now that I have my own children, I can enjoy Take That with them as much as I did when I was a child.”
Jude – New Zealand
“I missed out on Take That the first time round. I knew their music of course, but it wasn’t my time to be a Take That fan. At Uni we would listen to ‘Never Forget’ loudly at house parties on repeat, and ‘Back For Good’ was a staple on my excessively large boom box, but I wasn’t a Thatter. Then just as I was about to emigrate to New Zealand they reformed. I remember watching Take That For The Record and everyone talking about it next morning in the staff room at work. It made a real impact on everyone. The nostalgia was there, even for those of us who thought we had missed it the first time round. Somehow without us knowing Take That had got into everyone’s psyche. They really are a British Institution.”
“When I saw the new incarnation of Take That; Take That as a threesome, everything changed (pun intended). Over here in New Zealand, we get The Graham Norton Show a week after it airs in the UK. I saw Gary, Mark and Howard and fell in love. It was at that moment I became a fangirl again. It was like being a kid again. But what was different now? It was the notion of a fandom.”
“What I have really loved about the fandom is how accepting they are. They don’t care if you have liked the band since day one or if you have only just found out about them yesterday. A fan is a fan, and any support for their favourite band is good. I would love to meet some of these people in real life, but I know that’s unlikely, as unlikely as it is for me actually seeing Take That live…New Zealand really is the other side of the world.”
“And what about Take That? Why them? Well, for me it is more than the music and the performances, it is about their story, twenty five years in the making. I find their friendships, the break up, the make up, their chemistry intoxicating. Their engagement with their fans is second to none and they do so much for others.” – extract, with permission, from Jude’s blog.
Sarah (Sazzle) – 37 – Guildford
“Over the last year I’ve reflected quite a bit on my own experience of being a Take That fan. My journey started in 1992, when aged 13 I saw them on TV performing on the Children’s Royal Variety Performance and I was immediately smitten. For the next four years I considered myself to be a massive fan and I was absolutely obsessed (particularly with Mark). However, I only saw the boys live once during that time and despite being a member of the fan club and frantically watching every TV performance, I don’t ever recall thinking I should try and wait outside TV studios or hotels etc (not that I would have known where to find out where they were staying anyway and also I was very shy back then!) However, my life revolved around Take That and I used to annoy my friends by constantly talking about them. I was absolutely devastated when Robbie left and the end of the band seemed inevitable. I couldn’t believe it when they reformed and couldn’t wait to see them on tour. I still really only got to admire them from afar until relatively recently though.”
“It wasn’t until 25 November 2013, when things really changed for me. I just happened to see a post on Facebook saying that Gary was going to be at HMV Oxford Street doing a signing for the launch of his new album. I coincidentally had booked the day off from work anyway, so I thought I would give it a go. I honestly didn’t think I would really get anywhere near Gary, let alone meet him. I spent the day with some lovely girls who I met in the queue and when we got inside, we couldn’t believe it. Meeting Gary was magical and I remember leaving HMV and jumping up and down screaming with my new friends, in a state of complete disbelief. Since then I have remained close friends with those girls (we speak daily) and met loads of other fans who I now consider to be really good friends. We see each other so much now, it really is like being part of a special family. I literally can’t believe how much I have seen the boys in the last few years including queuing countless times for 12 hours in the freezing cold just to get barrier position. For anyone who knows me, this is a massive deal, as I hate being outside in the summer, never mind the winter – that is surely a sign of true love! I’m now well known amongst the other fans, as always having heels on as I wait for the boys!”
“On 1 December 2014, all my dreams came true when I met Take That at their album signing. I wore a blue sparkly dress and when Gary told me I looked gorgeous, I nearly passed out! Other adventures include meeting them at the airport and when they were rehearsing for their Hyde Park gig, winning tickets to their Magic intimate gig, seeing them perform at Car Fest, Wear The Rose, the iTunes Festival, as well as seeing them outside Radio 2 several times. Nothing beats hearing their music, getting a selfie with one of the boys or getting a reply to one of your tweets from them. I can’t imagine not having them in my life now. It never ceases to amaze me after all this time, how dedicated we still are to the boys and how we still follow them around like we were still teenagers. They say you never get over your first true love and Take That is the embodiment of this. I have always and will always love Take That.”