In March 1994, advertisements were placed in The Stage newspaper asking: "R U 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance? R U streetwise, ambitious, outgoing and determined?" Hundreds of girls responded to the ads. The applicants were whittled down to a final five which consisted of Melanie Chisholm (Melanie C), Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown (Melanie B), Victoria Adams (Victoria Beckham) and Michelle Stephenson, who combined to form an all female group called "Touch."
In June, during the group's earliest recording session, Michelle Stephenson was forced to leave due to commitment issues. She was replaced by Emma Bunton after Bunton's singing tutor had recommended her to the other girls. From this point up to March 1995 the girls lived together in a small house in Maidenhead where they worked on demos and practiced dance routines. After a successful showcase performance for music critics and producers in October, the group decided to fire their original management, who they cited as controlling and too domineering. That same day, the girls tracked down Sheffield-based producer Eliot Kennedy and persuaded him to work with the group (by then renamed Spice) over the course of the next year.
In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, the group began touring management agencies. The group was introduced to record producers Absolute, who in turn brought them to the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Management. The girls began a relationship with Fuller and finally signed with him in March 1995. During the summer of that year the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles and finally signed a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. From this point up to the summer of 1996, the Spice Girls (as they were then known) continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of America, where they had signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific.
On July 8, 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut single Wannabe in the United Kingdom. In the weeks leading up to the release, the video for "Wannabe" (directed by Jhoan Camitz and shot in April at St Pancras Station in London), had dominated the music channels. In July 1996 the group conducted their first interview, at Virgin Records' London HQ with Paul Gorman, contributing editor of music industry paper Music Week. His piece recognised that the Spice Girls were about to institute a change in the charts away from Britpop and towards out-and-out pop. He wrote: "Just when boys with guitars threaten to rule pop life an all-girl, in-yer-face pop group has arrived with enough sass to burst that rockist bubble!!". The song entered the charts at number 3 before moving up to number 1 the following week and staying there for 7 weeks. The song proved to be a global hit - hitting number 1 in 31 countries and became not only the biggest selling single by an all female group, but also the biggest selling debut single of all time. "Wannabe" also proved to be a catalyst in helping the Spice Girls break the notoriously difficult U.S. market when it debuted on the Hot 100 Chart at number 11. At the time, this was the highest ever debut by a British (or non-American) act in the US, beating the record previously held by The Beatles for I Want to Hold Your Hand at number 12.
In November 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut album, Spice in Europe. The success was unprecedented and drew comparisons to Beatlemania (it was dubbed "Spicemania") due to the sheer volume of interest in the group. In just 7 weeks, Spice had sold 1.8 million copies in Britain alone, making the Spice Girls the fastest selling British act since The Beatles. In total, the album sold over 3 million copies in Britain and peaked at number 1 for 15 weeks. In Europe, the album became the biggest selling album of 1997 and was certified 8x Platinum by the IFPI for sales in excess of 8 million copies. In the United States, Spice became the biggest selling album of 1997, peaking at number 1 and being certified 7x Platinum (for sales of over 7 million) by the RIAA.
Riding a wave of publicity and hype, the group followed the single "Wannabe" up quickly by releasing PSay You'll Be There in October and 2 Become 1 in December. The two tracks continued the group's remarkable sales by topping the charts in over 53 countries and cementing the group's reputation as the biggest pop act on the planet. The last release from Spice was a double A-side of Mama / Who Do You Think You Are which once again saw them at number 1.
In November 1997, the Spice Girls released their second studio album, Spiceworld. Preceded by the single Spice Up Your Life, the album proved to be an instant global best seller. It set a new record for the fastest selling album over 2 weeks when it shipped 7 million copies. Gaining favourable reviews, the album went on to sell over 10 million copies in Europe, Canada, and the United States alone. Criticized in America for releasing the album just nine months after their debut there and suffering from over-exposure at home, the Spice Girls began to experience a media backlash. The group were criticized for the amount of sponsorship deals they signed - over 20 in total - and they began to witness diminishing international chart positions. Nevertheless, the Spice Girls remained the biggest selling pop group of both 1997 and 1998. Further singles released from the album included PlayToo Much, Stop and Viva Forever with Stop being the only track not to hit number 1 in Britain (it entered and peaked at number 2).
In June 1997, the group began filming their movie debut, "Spiceworld: The Movie", with Absolutely Fabulous and Fawlty Towers director Bob Spiers. Meant to accompany the album, the comical style and content of the movie was in the same vein as The Beatles' films in the 1960s such as "A Hard Day's Night". The light-hearted comedy, intended to capture the spirit of the Spice Girls, starred a plethora of stars including Roger Moore, Elton John, Jennifer Saunders, Richard E. Grant and Meat Loaf. Released in December 1997, "Spiceworld: The Movie" proved to be a big box office hit taking nearly $30 million in the US, £11 million in Britain, and over $70 million worldwide. The movie was not as popular with critics however; it was nominated for seven awards at the 1999 Golden Raspberry Awards where they "won" the award for "Worst Actress".
On November 7, 1997 the Spice Girls fired their manager and mentor Simon Fuller. According to their various autobiographies, it was mainly Geri and Melanie B who pushed for Fuller's dismissal. They cited that he had become too controlling by restricting their personal and artistic freedom, and they accused him of using divide and rule tactics to get his own way. The group quickly found the burden of managing themselves time consuming, so they assigned various responsibilities to each member of the group. They later built their own team, headed by Nancy Phillips, to deal with their affairs.
In early 1998, the Spice Girls embarked upon a sell-out 102 date world tour covering Europe and North America. The "Spiceworld" tour kicked off in Dublin, Ireland on February 24, 1998 before moving onto mainland Europe and then returning to Britain for 14 gigs at Wembley Arena and Birmingham's NEC Arena. It was here that recordings were made for a planned live album, which was confirmed by the group: "We've shown everyone we can do the business on stage, so now we want to do a live album for fans". Despite masters of the recording being made, the idea was eventually dropped. At the end of the European leg of the tour, Geri Halliwell missed the final 2 shows in Oslo, Norway reportedly due to gastroenteritis. However, rumours quickly circulated that Geri had become disenchanted with the group and was planning to leave â€“ and after she also missed a performance of Viva Forever on the National Lottery show, rumours began to intensify.
On May 31, 1998, Geri Halliwell announced her departure from the Spice Girls. Through her solicitor, she issued the following statement: "Sadly I would like to confirm that I have left the Spice Girls. This is because of differences between us. I'm sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best "PS, I'll be back." Halliwell claimed that she was suffering from exhaustion and wanted to take time out. However, rumours persisted that she had fallen out with one of the other girls (reportedly Melanie B). Although this has never been confirmed, the biographies of Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, and Melanie B all hint that this was the case. Geri's departure from the group shocked fans and became one of the biggest entertainment news stories of the year, making news headlines the world over. The four remaining girls were adamant though that the group would carry on and that their approaching North American tour would continue as normal.
Geri Halliwell's departure threw most of the group's plans into disarray. It was cited as the reason the planned live album was cancelled. It also meant that most of the material the girls had recorded throughout the first half of 1998 at Dublin's Windmill Lane Studios with long time collaborators Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe was eventually scrapped. A rumoured animated venture by Disney also failed to materialize.
The Spice Girls first release as a foursome was Viva Forever the last single taken off Spiceworld. The video for the single was made before Geri's departure and features the girls in animated form - a decision made because there was no time to produce a video due to the heavy world tour schedule. Originally planned as a double A-side with Never Give Up on the Good Times the idea was dropped for several reasons, mainly due to time restraints (since there was no time to re-record and edit out Geri's vocals or make a video for the track). Whilst on tour in America the group continued to record new material and they released the new song Goodbye at Christmas 1998. Written before her departure, the song was nevertheless seen as a tribute to Geri and when it topped the British chart it became their third consecutive Christmas number 1 - equalling the record previously set by The Beatles. The song also became one of the most successful songs of the 1990's in Canada, where it stayed at number 1 for 16 weeks.
In November 2000 The Spice Girls released their new album, Forever. Sporting a new edgier R&B sound, the album received a lukewarm response and achieved only a fraction of the success of its two best selling predecessors. In the US it peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Top 200. In the UK, the album was released the same week as Westlife's Coast to Coast album and the chart battle was widely reported by the media. In the end Westlife, who had embarked on a massive promotional tour, outsold The Spice Girls by a margin of 3 to 1 to take the top spot. The lead single from the album, the double A-side Holler / Let Love Lead the Way, did have some success - it became the group's ninth number 1 single in the UK. However, the song failed to break onto the Billboard Hot 100, instead peaking at number 7 on the Bubbling Under chart. However, Holler did peak at number 31 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play in 2001.
Many credit the low success of the album down to the fact the group did very little promotion in the run up to its worldwide release.The only major performance of the lead single came at the MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2000, and a few TV performances aside, the group did little meaningful promotion. In an attempt to cover more ground, the girls split up and covered different countries separately; for example Victoria and Emma headed to America while Melanie B and C concentrated on Europe.
The album was also deeply divisive to Spice fans, with roughly half enjoying the new R&B sound, and the other half loathing it. That the group's fans were generally critical of the album is another major explanation of Forever's low sales.
Further planned single releases off the album never materialised. Promo singles of Tell Me Why, Weekend Love and If You Wanna Have Some Fun came into circulation but the Forever project was abandoned in early 2001 as the girls each began to concentrate on solo careers. In the years since, the media speculated endlessly about possible reunions.¦
On June 28th 2007, the Spice Girls (including Geri Halliwell) reformed and gave a press conference to announce a tour plus a Greatest Hits CD, and a documentary that were both released by the end of the year.
A new single was released on the 19th November 2007 called Headlines (Friendship Never Ends) to moderate acclaim. Their 2007-08 reunion tour however was sold out across the world but despite this success the group wrote a message on their website in March 2008 to confirm that this reunion tour really was the end of the Spice Girls.
Bustier and leather trousers worn by Victoria Beckham
Following her rise to fame in the Spice Girls, the media dubbed Victoria Adams ‘Posh Spice’. Her dark bob and love of the little black dress were much copied by her young female fans and formed her iconic image in the group. This outfit was created specifically for the Spice Girls reunion world tour of 2007 which included sell-out dates at the O2 arena. Victoria was heavily involved in the design of all of the outfits for the tour, spending many hours talking to Roberto Cavalli.
Green and purple tracksuit worn by Melanie C
With her high kicks and tracksuits, Melanie C brought the tomboyish ‘Girl Power’ attitude to the Spice Girls. She was later dubbed ‘Sporty Spice’ in a Top of the Pops magazine article, which stuck throughout their time at the top of the charts. This tracksuit was worn during the Spice Girls reunion tour in 2007 where, on the last night in Toronto, Melanie thrilled the crowds with a trademark back flip.
Leopard print catsuit worn by Mel B
Mel B embodied the ‘Girl Power’ attitude and independence integral to the Spice Girls image. Her love of leopard print, ‘in-your-face’ personality and wild, curly hair gained the nickname of ‘Scary Spice’. This catsuit design was revived for the Spice Girls reunion tour in 2007.
Pink boxing robe worn by Emma Bunton
Better known as ‘Baby Spice’, Emma Bunton was the youngest and the last member to join the Spice Girls. Famous for her short baby-doll dresses, blonde hair in pigtails and her love of platform shoes, it was easy to see why Emma was often referred to as the cute member of the group. This boxing robe was commissioned for the Spice Girls reunion world tour of 2007.
Union Jack dress worn by Geri Halliwell
Dubbed Ginger Spice by the UK press thanks to her fiery locks and feisty attitude, Geri Halliwell stole the headlines in 1997 when she sported a short Union Jack dress at the BRIT Awards. A more elaborate dress was designed for their 2007 reunion tour of which Geri said: “We are a British band and seriously proud to fly the flag. Walking out in the Union Jack dress again will be special.”
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