How Oasis crashed a Glasgow gig and got their breakthrough at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
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Oasis were one of the biggest British bands of their generation - and they got their start right here in Glasgow 30 years ago.
It was a new wee venue called King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St Vincent Street that provided the spark that set the band on their way to their debut album Definitely Maybe and onwards to stardom. King Tut’s has written its own place in local music history in the decades since.
Three bands were meant to play the end of Mayfest at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut that night in1993 - Boyfriend, 18 Wheeler, and Sister Lovers. At the time the venue was just three years old, but had already hosted the likes of The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Suede, Pulp, and The Verve.
Oasis were not added to the line-up by the promoter. The band showed up to venue with a mob of their pals in the back of a hired van from Manchester.
Bouncers shrugged at the name ‘Oasis’ and initially wouldn’t let them in as they weren’t on the list. Stories conflict about how the band finally made their way in - in The Truth, a book about the band from original drummer Tony McCarroll, he writes:”We told him we were Oasis from Manchester, as if that meant something.
“Never heard of you, now f*** off, came the reply in thick Glaswegian. And that was the wrong thing to say to a van-load of hooligans who’ve spent their limited money getting there, and taking the day off to boot.”
Paul Ashbee, or Big Un as he’s known, was a friend of the band who was credited with introducing Liam Gallagher to founding members Paul McGuigan, Paul Arthurs, and Tony McCarroll.
He, along with Tony McCarroll and the Gallagher brothers in TV interviews, claims that the band and their entourage that numbered over a dozen threatened to wreck the venue if they weren’t allowed in, which promptly changed the bouncers mind.
However later on, with less bravado, both the Gallagher brothers have denied that happened in the Supersonic book. They address the rumour they helped spread.
Noel writes:”There is this story that we threatened to smash the gaff up and all that - but that’s all b*llocks. If anyone’s been to nightclub in Glasgow; you know you don’t go throwing your weight around up there and live to tell the tale.”
Liam adds:”You would have got f**ing rolled up in a little ball and slung in the corner - there was none of that.”
It would seem - that despite the bands earlier claims - that Oasis did not in fact threaten their way on-stage, and that earlier claims that they had was just posturing amidst the Britpop media storm that surrounded their steep ascent to fame.
Regardless of how it happened, Oasis made their way into the venue, but not before Sister Lovers and Boyfriend threatened to cancel the gig. They eventually acquiesced, both shortened their sets to accomodate the nascent Manchester band.
According to the drummer of Boyfriend, Derek McKee, sound engineer and friend of Noel Gallagher, Mark Coyle set up Oasis arriving in Glasgow after he heard about the gig from his association with Debbie Harry, lead singer of fellow Manchester band Sister Lovers.
In a blog post by Derek Mckee, he writes: ”Fast forward to May 1993, we were booked to play the last night of Mayfest at King Tut’s with fellow label-mates 18 Wheeler. Sister Lovers were booked as the third band on the bill.
“When Mark Coyle got wind of this, he contacted us to ask if the new group he was working with, his friend Noel’s band ,could be added to the bill. They were called Oasis. ‘The more the merrier!’ we said but unfortunately we forgot to tell the promoter about the late addition to the night, we didn’t think it would be a big deal!
“My memories of the night are that initially the Tut’s staff were being a bit arsey about a fourth band on the bill and refused to let them play. Discussions/veiled threats of potential violence and compromise saved the day.”
It’s unclear whether or not Oasis knew about who was in the crowd that day - founder of Creation Labels and Glaswegian Alan McGee - but given how much effort the band went to in attending the gig - it’s likely they did.
Then again, at the time it was a big deal for any unsigned and relatively unknown Manchester band to play outside of the city, so in all possibility they were just caught up in the excitement of playing in Glasgow.
Oasis played to a crowd of around 30 at most according to Derek McKee, but the size of the audience didn’t matter, it was the record label head the band were playing for - whether they knew it or not.
They played four songs - Rock n Roll Star, Bring It On Down, Up In The Sky, and I Am The Walrus. You can watch a clip of the performance here.
Derek recalls the event in his blog, he writes:” Both Boyfriend and Sister Lovers threatened to cancel the gig but after agreeing to cut short their respective sets, this freed up just enough time for Oasis who went on to play their 4 song set.
“Apart from the Manchester posse, the only others who watched Oasis that night numbered no more than about 12 people. I remember they were very loud and was impressed with their guitarist. The tune that stuck in my mind was their cover of I Am The Walrus, it was fantastic!
“Liam looked like a football casual with Adidas gear on, younger than most of us. Like all the young dudes, we thought he was a loveable rogue, cheeky and cocky. His singing was good, he used to have a sweet melodic voice and could certainly hit the notes.
“Noel was the big brother, he was the one pulling the strings and he’d been around the block with the Inspiral Carpets, so he knew the score.”
The set impressed Alan McGee who offered them a recording contract - which they didn’t sign until a few months later. Regardless of names on contracts - word spread fast about the Manchester band, and before long Oasis signed a worldwide contract with Sony.
They would go on to earn international acclaim, millions upon millions of pounds, and a place in British music history - and it all started from an unassuming night at a tiny venue in Glasgow.
Oasis would go on to play across the world - but would often return to Glasgow - including the highly acclaimed support gig they played for The Verve at Cathouse on June 13 1994 while the venue was still on Brown Street, before it had cemented it’s grungy, goth reputation.
Oasis would return as headliners throughout the years at venues like Tramway, The Barrowland, Glasgow Green, Braehead Arena, and The SECC. The pinacle was their pair of Loch Lomond gigs at Balloch in 1996 with a stream of buses taking fans from Buchanan Street station. In total the band played 10 gigs in Glasgow before they disbanded.
It’s clear Glasgow has special place in the Gallagher brothers hearts - as they often bring it up.
Liam Gallagher can often be found posting about his love of Celtic on Twitter. Noel Gallagher has compared Glasgow to his home-city Manchester, while saying Edinburgh remind him more of London.
To read more about the night that made Oasis from the perspective of someone that was there, read Derek McKee’s blog.