On August 17, 1995, Britpop heavyweights Blur and Oasis released their highly-anticipated new singles on the same day, setting up the biggest showdown in pop chart history.
It was the apex of a long brewing feud between Britpop’s two biggest bands, who claimed to be bitter enemies.
By early 1995 Britpop was gathering an unstoppable momentum, led by Blur who had enjoyed huge success in 1994 with ‘Parklife’ and Oasis, who had made a huge splash with their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’.
As 1995 progressed, it gradually became clear there was growing resentment between the two bands with some in the music industry even comparing the rivalry to the more friendly rivalry between the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Blur singer Damon Albarn told British magazine NME that Liam Gallagher threw some gas on the fire after Oasis got their first number 1 hit with Some Might Say.
“I went to their celebration part, y’know, just to say ‘Well Done’. And Liam came over and, like he is, he goes, ‘Number fuckin’ one!’, right in my face. So I thought, ‘Ok we’ll see…'”Damon Albarn, NME Magazine
Both bands had albums coming out in the fall of 1995 and for their first singles Blur went with Country House and Oasis chose Roll With it which incidentally weren’t the best songs from either album.
The bands went back and forth on release dates with the original plan being to release a week apart. Then at the last minute Albarn, said screw it and released their single on the same day as the Oasis single for the ultimate head-to head battle.
The British media leapt on the story, catapulting the clash onto newspaper front pages and TV news. It was a perfect story for the press: the rough, working class, no-nonsense Northerners versus the pretentious, university-educated Southerners.
The battle amounted to the best week for UK singles sales in a decade, and in the end, Blur won, selling 274,000 copies of their single while Oasis sold 216,000, with the songs charting at No 1 and No 2 respectively.
Over the following months, while Britpop became a major cultural phenomenon, ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ emerged to colossal sales, and it became clear that while Blur had won the battle of the singles, Oasis would win the war of the albums. ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory?’ sold more than 4 million copies, making it the fifth biggest selling album in British history.
Not surprisingly, Noel Gallagher was not a good winner. In an interview for The Guardian about the success of the album, he said of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon:
“ I hope the pair of them catch AIDS and die because I fucking hate them two.” He immediately apologized for the “joke”.Noel Gallagher, The Guardian
Things remained frosty between the Oasis camp and the Blur camp, but in the years since the Gallagher brothers’ own personal war saw their band split acrimoniously in 2009, things have mellowed somewhat.
Noel Gallagher joined Albarn and Coxon onstage at a charity concert in 2013, while in August 2018, Albarn admitted to The Sun:
“We don’t talk about our past, we talk about our present. I value my friendship with Noel because he is one of the only people who went through what I did in the Nineties.”Noel Gallagher, The Sun
For more stories from the 1990s, make sure to check out my podcast “History of the 90s” on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at Curiouscast.ca.