Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow

Barlow in 2013
Background information
Birth name Gary Barlow
Born (1971-01-20) 20 January 1971
Frodsham, Cheshire, England
Genres Pop[1]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
Years active 1986–present
Associated acts

Gary Barlow OBE (born 20 January 1971) is an English singer, songwriter and record producer. He is frontman and lead vocalist of British pop-group Take That and served as head judge[4][5][6] on series 8, 9 and 10 of The X Factor UK.[7] Barlow is one of Britain's most successful songwriters, having written fourteen number one singles and twenty-four top 10 hits.[8] He has had three number one singles, six top 10 singles and two number one albums as a solo artist,[9][10] and has had seventeen top 5 hits, twelve number one singles and seven number one albums with Take That.[11][12] He is also a six-time recipient of the Ivor Novello Award and has sold over 50 million records worldwide.[13][14][15]

Early life and beginnings

Gary Barlow was born on 20 January 1971 in Frodsham, Cheshire, the second son of Colin and Marjorie Barlow.[16] In Barlow's autobiography, he relates that his love of music began at an early age.

"I was one of those kids that's forever dancing in front of the TV looking at my reflection."[17]

He cites watching a performance of "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode on Top of the Pops when he was ten years old as a main influence of his love of music, describing it as 'mesmerising'. Barlow subsequently asked for a keyboard for Christmas. He spent most of his spare time teaching himself to play his favourite songs.[18]

He has credited Elton John with inspiring him to play the piano.[19]

In 1986, when Barlow was fifteen years old, he entered a BBC Pebble Mill at One Christmas song competition with "Let's Pray for Christmas". After reaching the semi-finals, he was invited to London's West Heath Studios to record his song. This inspired Barlow to perform on the northern club circuit, singing cover versions and his own songs. Barlow's first performance was at the Connah's Quay Labour Club in the late 1980s and he was paid £18 per performance on Saturday evenings.[20][21]

In 1989, he appointed Wigan show business agent Barry Woolley to be his manager and recorded a single ("Love Is in the Air") which was never released commercially. Barlow was eventually put in touch with casting agent Nigel Martin-Smith, by renowned celebrity photographer Doc Braham, who took Barlow's first professional head-shots. Nigel is a friend of Doc's, and introduced Barlow to Nigel who was interested in starting a boyband. Martin-Smith decided to use Barlow as the lead-singer after being impressed by his self written material including an early demo tape of Barlow's "A Million Love Songs" concluding that the band would be built around Barlow's vocals and songwriting skills.

Take That

1989–96: Early success

Main article: Take That

Barlow, who wrote the majority of the group's songs, is widely recognised as the musical talent behind Take That.[22][23] After selecting Barlow as the group's lead-singer, Nigel Martin-Smith introduced Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen and finally Robbie Williams to the fold. The group were signed to RCA Records, and after a number of top 40 hits, eventually secured their first number one with Barlow's "Pray". Previous hits included "A Million Love Songs", "It Only Takes a Minute" and "Could It Be Magic". The debut album Take That & Party was released on 17 August 1992 and reached number two on the UK Album Chart. The following year saw the release of their second album, Everything Changes based on Barlow's own material. It went straight in at number one on the UK Albums Chart and spawned four number 1 singles, as well as "Why Can't I Wake Up with You" and "Love Ain't Here Anymore" hitting number two and three respectively.[24]

Barlow received an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song in 1994 for the number 1 hit song "Pray" included on the album.[25] In 1994, alongside Rick Astley, Barlow did backing vocals for Elton John's version of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King. Take That's third album Nobody Else, again based on Barlow's own material, went straight to number 1 and was to be their last studio album of the 1990s. The album had three number 1 singles, including Barlow's "Back for Good" which peaked at number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100[26] and was brought forward an unprecedented 6 weeks before its official release such was the demand for the single.[27] A Greatest Hits collection followed again reaching number 1. The album featured the band's eighth number 1 single "How Deep Is Your Love". This was to be the first single released by Take That as a four piece (without Robbie Williams) and it was their last single until they reformed in 2005.

2005–present: Reunion

Barlow returned to the limelight in a successful TV documentary, Take That: For the Record in 2005. Following this success and renewed interest, Take That experienced a career renaissance in 2005 when the post-Williams line-up reformed for a sell-out arena/stadium tour. The band released their comeback single "Patience" which went to number 1 for four weeks while also topping the charts across Europe. Patience was also voted The Record of the Year in 2006 and won a Brit for single of the year.[28] This was followed with "Shine" which became the band's tenth number 1 single. Take That's first album of new material in over ten years, Beautiful World was released on 24 November 2006. The album peaked at number 1 in the UK Album Chart selling over 2.8 million copies in the UK alone to date.[29] It was re-released as a tour edition with hit single "Rule the World" in 2007 and peaked again at number one.

In 2008, the band were nominated for four Brit Awards (Best British Group, Best British Album, Best British Single and Best British Live Act). They won Best British Single and Best British Live Act. After great success in 2006, Take That released the single "Greatest Day" which went straight to number 1 and became their eleventh number 1 single in the UK. The week after they released their second album since their reunion in 2006, The Circus. The Circus album was also a great success for Take That going straight to the top of the UK album chart and selling over 2.2 million copies across the country, going multi platinum within 4 days of its release.[30] In June and July 2009, Take That performed a record breaking tour named Take That Present: The Circus Live throughout the United Kingdom which sold over 1 million tickets in just 5 hours.[31]

It was announced that Barlow was in the process of writing Take That's much anticipated sixth studio album, set for release in late 2010.[32] The album, Progress, was the first to feature the original line-up since their 1995 album, Nobody Else. The band also announced a stadium tour entitled Progress Live which took place in 2011.[33] The tickets for the tour went on sale on 29 October 2010. Due to unprecedented high public demand for tickets, Ticketmaster websites across the UK and Ireland crashed and all initial tour dates sold out in under 15 minutes.[34] It was reported that a record breaking one million tickets were snapped up on the first day of sale, resulting in Take That smashing the previous box office record of tickets sold which was set in 2008 by Take That Present: The Circus Live.[35] Due to unprecedented demand Take That added more dates to their tour, finishing in the UK with a record breaking 8 consecutive nights at Wembley Stadium after which the tour will then commence throughout Europe with an estimated 1.75 million people expected to attend the shows.

The lead single from Progress was announced as "The Flood". The single debuted at number 2, selling over 500,000 copies since release. On the first day of the release of Progress, the album sold over 235,000 copies across the UK, making it the fastest selling record of the century.[36] On 21 November 2010, Progress debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, becoming the band's seventh number-one album.[11] By the end of its first week on sale the album sold over 520,000, making it the second fastest-selling album of all-time in UK chart history.[37] To date Progress has sold 2.8 million copies in the UK[38] and has achieved similar chart success across Europe. In June 2011, Take That released their first extended play collection entitled Progressed which returned the band to number 1 in the UK on its first week of release as well as charting across Europe.

The media have widely acknowledged Barlow's talent and labelled him as the mastermind behind the unprecedented success of Take That's comeback and the new musical direction they have taken.[39]

Solo career

1996–98: Open Road

Barlow's solo career was predicted to be very successful, being described as 'the next George Michael'. His first two solo singles "Forever Love" (released July 1996) and "Love Won't Wait" (composed by Madonna and Shep Pettibone) both leapt to the number one spot in his home country. "Forever Love" was also used as the soundtrack to the film The Leading Man. His debut album Open Road reached number 1 in the UK Albums Chart and went on to sell 2 million copies worldwide. Barlow's first single to be released in the United States as a solo artist was "So Help Me Girl", which reached number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and number 1 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. He then achieved another top ten hit in the UK with "Open Road" peaking at number 7[40] and number 8 in the Netherlands with "Are You Ready Now".[40]

1999–2000: Twelve Months, Eleven Days

After the success of his first solo album he released his second LP Twelve Months, Eleven Days in 1999. Barlow released "Stronger" as the lead single preceding the album. However, due to an expected backlash against Barlow, it received minimal support and airplay and only peaked at number 16.[40] The second single "For All That You Want" again was subjected to minimal radio play and peaked at number 24, however it peaked just outside the top 5 in Finland.[40] Twelve Months, Eleven Days was released soon after the first single to little promotion and peaked at a disappointing number 35, which led to Sony recalling Barlow's 'greatest' song according to critics, the scheduled third single from his second album "Lie to Me".[41] This resulted in both Barlow and BMG parting company. To date Barlow has sold 5 million records worldwide as a solo artist.[13]

2010–13: Shame and return to solo projects

Barlow's first solo release since 1999 was a duet with reconciled Take That bandmate Robbie Williams on a single entitled "Shame". The single was written by both Barlow and Williams after they began to work together in Los Angeles on new material for a new Take That album following Williams' return to the band. On the first day of the song being released to the radio and the media, "Shame" received an unprecedented 694 plays on the radio and 153 plays on TV. The single peaked at number 2 in the UK, selling 224,000 copies[42] and being certified as Silver by the BPI, while also charting in 21 countries worldwide.[30]

Barlow announced in January 2011 that he was to hold a solo concert entitled GB40 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire to celebrate his 40th birthday and his 20 years in the music industry with all money going to The Prince's Trust charity.[43] Barlow was joined by guest appearances from Chris Martin, Ellie Goulding, Midge Ure and his bandmates from Take That, while also receiving recorded birthday messages from a number of celebrities such as Chris Moyles, Peter Kay, Elton John and Robbie Williams.

In September 2011, it was announced that Gary Barlow would be headlining BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park.[44] Barlow's performance was praised by critics as he returned to Hyde Park as a solo artist for the first time since 1999. On 24 October 2011 Barlow announced that he was to play his first two full solo concerts in 11 years at the Royal Albert Hall entitled Gary Barlow: In Concert, with all proceeds going to the Prince's Trust charity. These concerts sold out 'minutes' after going on sale[45] and were praised by fans and the media alike with Barlow playing the biggest hits from his 20-year career.[46]

In December 2011, Gary Barlow performed a duet with Michael Bublé singing "Rule the World" and Bublé's single, "Home". The performance gained great reception from fans, where it began trending worldwide on Twitter.[47] Soon after it was broadcast, a petition was set up for the collaboration to be made available for digital download to challenge for the Christmas Number 1 spot.[48]

In April 2012, Barlow recorded a cover of "Here Comes the Sun" that was used in the 2012 summer promotion advertisement for Marks and Spencer with him appearing in the advert at the end performing the song.

Barlow was featured in a duet with Agnetha Fältskog (from ABBA) on her 2013 album A, released in May 2013. Barlow co-wrote the song, "I Should've Followed You Home" with album producer Jörgen Elofsson.[49] Early press reports tagged the song as a likely single with strong chart potential leading to Universal Music scheduling it to be released as the third single from the album in November 2013. The single become a top 5 hit in Sweden on the week of its release as well as charting in the UK.[50][51]

It was announced in January 2012 that Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber would be working together to write the official Diamond Jubilee single. Barlow and Lord Lloyd Webber composed the music to the song; with Barlow then taking this music to musicians and singers around The Commonwealth with the aim to incorporate sounds from around the world onto the single.[52] The song entitled "Sing" was released as the lead single from the album of the same name, Sing. It debuted in the UK Singles Chart at number 11 with the album released on the same day entering the UK Album Chart at number 1, becoming Barlow's second solo number 1 album and his first in 15 years.[53] After the airing of Gary Barlow's documentary Gary Barlow: On Her Majesty's Service which told the story of how Sing was written; the single climbed up to number one in the iTunes chart.[54] The following week Sing rose to number 1 in the UK Singles Chart selling 142,000 copies and becoming the highest selling single of 2012.[55] The album of the same name remained at number 1, making Barlow the first artist in 2012 to have the number 1 album and number 1 single in the same week.[55]

Barlow announced on 15 October 2012 that he was to embark on his first full solo tour in thirteen years around the UK and Ireland. In a statement, he said, "I'm really excited about these dates. Playing live is my favourite thing and I haven't played a solo show for over a year now. Last year playing two London shows was brilliant, we all had such a good time, so I thought right let's get out and see the rest of the country!"

The tickets to Barlow's solo concerts sold out instantly after going on sale on 19 October, with tickets selling faster than those of The Rolling Stones for their comeback dates.[56] Demand was so high for tickets that Barlow added more dates, which also sold out instantly. It was also revealed by ticket marketplace SeatWave, that Gary Barlow's solo shows had sold six times more tickets than Robbie Williams' solo concerts, despite being on sale for a week less.[57]

2013–14: Since I Saw You Last

Barlow performing in concert in 2013

On September 2013, Barlow announced via his Twitter account that he would be releasing his first full-length solo album in 14 years, on 25 November 2013.[58] Barlow encouraged his followers and fans to tweet #GBSOLO to reveal the album artwork and title, with their profile pictures being used to create a collage of the album cover. On 4 October 2013, Barlow revealed his new album would be called Since I Saw You Last, and would be preceded by his first single from the LP, titled Let Me Go, released worldwide on 17 November 2013. He also announced that he would be touring the album in April 2014, playing some of the biggest arenas in the UK.[59]

Let Me Go entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 3 with 72,423 copies sold in its first week on sale, giving Barlow his 21st top 3 UK single. The following week it rose to No. 2[60][60] selling a further 60,422 copies.[61] One month after release, Let Me Go was certified Silver by the BPI for selling over 200,000 copies in the UK. In early 2014, Let Me Go surpassed 400,000 sales in the UK and was certified Gold.[62] The week after the release of Let Me Go, the album debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart, behind One Direction's third album Midnight Memories. The album sold 116,000 copies, becoming the fastest selling album of 2013 to miss out on the top spot, whilst also selling more copies in his first week than his Take That bandmate Robbie Williams, whose album Swings Both Ways sold 109,000 copies the previous week to claim the top spot.[63] The album was certified Platinum by the BPI less than a month after being released, becoming Barlow's second solo album to reach Platinum certification.[62] The album went 2x Platinum a month later, spending 11 weeks in the top 5 of the UK Album Charts, becoming Barlow's most successful solo album in the UK to date.[64]

Other musical projects

Songwriting, producing and publishing

After leaving his career as a solo artist Barlow returned to his first love of writing music. He soon signed a song writing publishing deal with Sony and went to the US on a six-month songwriting project, residing in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York with his wife, Dawn and first child, Daniel. Upon his return he set up True North Productions with Eliot Kennedy and Tim Woodcock. In his autobiography 'My Take' Barlow partly blames his fall as a solo artist on his commitments to being a star in the United States. After his disappointing second album, Barlow remained out of the public eye for half a decade, choosing to continue to write and produce songs for other artists such as Shirley Bassey and Charlotte Church In October 2007, Barlow founded San Remo Live Publishings as an independently run management company to establish and support artists and songwriters.[65]

In 2010 Barlow signed a new 5-year song writing publishing deal with Sony music. He has been voted as the greatest British songwriter of all time in a 2009 OnePoll, who surveyed 3000 people[66] John Lennon and Paul McCartney, of The Beatles, were placed second and third respectively.[66]

In 2011, Barlow wrote the song "Run for Your Life" for The X Factor series 7 winner Matt Cardle's debut album. Cardle told The Sun: "We had 99% of the album finished then the track came through from Gary. I'd been trying to write a song like that for a long, long time, probably five or six years. As soon as I heard it I just felt the song was mine. Lyrically it's about not being good enough for the person you're with. I was nearly in tears recording the vocals. I'm proud that I've written a lot of the album but Gary is a genius as a writer – I couldn't pass it up."[67] He has also written for the likes of Robbie Williams, Westlife, Lily Allen, Blue, Elton John, Olly Murs[68] Matt Cardle, T-Pain, Will Young[69] N-Dubz, Lawson,[70] Shirley Bassey, Donny Osmond, Delta Goodrem, Elaine Page, Agnetha Fältskog, and many more while also being commissioned by the Queen to write the official single for her Diamond Jubilee which saw Barlow collaborate with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

To date Barlow has written 14 number 1 singles in the UK,[8] and 2 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles in the United States[71] including Back for Good which went to number 1 in 31 countries across the world.[72]

Ceremonial work

At the beginning of May 2010, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had asked Barlow to organise her 86th birthday party and her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. A source said: "Her Majesty has been made well aware of his charity work and the events he has put together. She knows that Gary has got the power to pull in the big names across the music industry and to ensure it's a party to match the occasion".[73] This was confirmed on February 2012 with Gary Barlow being named as the main organiser and producer of a concert that took place outside Buckingham Palace and featuring globally recognised superstar artists.[74][75][76] Barlow said "The Diamond Jubilee Concert will celebrate the 60 years of The Queen's reign with an amazing line-up of world-class artists coming together to play at one of the biggest and most exciting live music shows in recent years."[75] This concert began to take shape with Barlow at the centre of the arrangements and the force behind the staging, artists and the eventual ideas that would be used in the concert. On 4 June 2012 the Diamond Jubilee concert was held outside Buckingham Palace with it acting as a backdrop to a stage built upon the Victoria Memorial featuring artists from all across the world. The concert included music stemming from the 1950s to the 2000s with each decade of her reign reflected in the music performed. Barlow himself appeared alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and his own Commonwealth Band to perform the self written official jubilee single "Sing" while also dueting with Girls Aloud's Cheryl Cole on the night which won praise from critics who called "the performance as [two of] the best of Britain [who] proved their pop credentials with a dazzling duet."[77] The reception from the concert was universal in praise for the efforts of Barlow with Prince Charles himself personally thanking him for putting together the concert.

Future records

In 2009 Barlow began work on his own record label Future Records, a branch from Universal Music, and signed his first artist, classical singer Camilla Kerslake.[78] Since then Barlow has also signed UK rapper Aggro Santos to his label[79] who scored two top 10 UK hits and a further top 20 single,[80] and the winner of Sky 1's Must Be The Music, Emma's Imagination who also achieved two top 10 UK singles and a top 15 charting debut album.[81] In 2013 Barlow's discovery A*M*E released her first single which debuted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.[82] Gary Barlow has since closed down the record label to focus on his own career and family commitments.[83]

The X Factor

On 7 May 2011, it was announced that Barlow was in advanced talks to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on The X Factor.[7] He was officially confirmed as a judge on 30 May, alongside the returning Louis Walsh and fellow new judges Tulisa Contostavlos and Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland, who collectively replaced Girls Aloud's Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue.[84][85] Barlow was given the "Boys" category for the live shows and mentored Marcus Collins to the final of The X Factor, where he became runner up.

After a successful debut as a judge on The X Factor in 2011, ITV producers opened talks with Barlow to return for a second series. ITV sources believed that "while viewing figures were down a few million during Series 8 the feeling is it would have been worse without Gary" and so offered Barlow a substantial increase on his £1.5 million salary from the previous year to ensure that he returned to the panel. On 17 April 2012, it was announced that Barlow would return to The X Factor for a second year; he was the first judge to be announced to be returning. He was later joined by the returning Louis Walsh on the judging panel, alongside Tulisa Contostavlos and The Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger, who replaced Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland after one series. For his second year as a mentor, he was given the Over 28s category, which featured both male and female artists over the age of 28. He became the only judge to have four acts in the finals after Christopher Maloney became the popular wildcard and the thirteenth finalist in the show. Barlow guided Maloney to the final of the show, becoming Barlow's second finalist in two consecutive years.

Barlow revealed on 9 December 2012 that he may not return as a judge for a third series on The X Factor, stating that he doesn't know "if there is room" in his diary for the programme.[86] However, on 20 May 2013, it was confirmed by Louis Walsh that he and Barlow would both return to continue their roles as judges on the tenth series of The X Factor, in August 2013. Barlow was given the Groups category in his third year on the show. Barlow chose Kingsland Road, Miss Dynamix and Rough Copy as his final three. After losing two of his final acts, he guided Rough Copy to the semi finals.

During the performance of his group Rough Copy on the first live show of the X Factor 2013, Barlow revealed that this would be his last series on the show, due to his solo tour commitments and the upcoming release of a new Take That album.[87] Barlow said of his decision: "I’ve had an amazing time on X Factor these past three years. A show like this needs to stay fresh and exciting, so it’s a great opportunity for someone to come in and take the show past its incredible ten year anniversary. "Next year is a very busy year for me and X Factor is a full time job so it felt like the right time to hand over the baton." An X Factor spokesperson added: "As Gary said on the show tonight we can confirm that this will be his last series as a judge on The X Factor as next year he will be focusing on his own music. "We'd like to thank him for an amazing contribution over the last three years."[88] Barlow was replaced by Simon Cowell.[89]

Musical theatre

On 25 June 2013, it was announced that Barlow had been signed up to work on a new musical version of Finding Neverland and will co-write the score for the theatre project, which is being developed by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Barlow said of the project: "This is something I've always wanted to do so it's a real privilege to be involved. I'm really enjoying working with the team and I love the story; it's also great to be working with a legendary creative like Harvey Weinstein." Weinstein echoed the sentiment by expressing his admiration for Barlow, whom he described as "one of the finest songwriters in the world".[90]

On 1 March 2014, Barlow attended the Bob and Harvey Weinstein's pre-Academy Award party at the Montage in Beverly Hills to perform a selection of songs from the musical score he had written for Finding Neverland. He played the lead role of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, and sung a duet with noted British musical actress Laura Michelle Kelly along with four back-up artists featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom.[91] Barlow's performance was well received,[92][93] and after a successful performance run in Boston, Finding Neverland opened on Broadway in Spring 2015. On its first Broadway preview, the show sold out the theatre and posted a box office performance that, if it continued for a whole week of performances, would have seen the show top $1 million.[94]


After twenty years within the music industry in which Barlow has achieved phenomenal success across the world; coupled with his efforts to raise money and awareness for various charities he was honoured in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 June 2012, which he was awarded on 21 November for "services to Music and to Charity".[95] In a statement, Barlow said: "I'm absolutely thrilled and feel very privileged to be in the company of so many brilliant people who I know have received an OBE." He continued by stating that he enjoys "every minute of the work I do, with a lot of it being a reward in itself, so for somebody to decide I should get recognized for that is just amazing. My family are very proud."[96]

In July 2012 Barlow was announced as the recipient of the prestigious Music Industry Trusts Award which he will be presented with in November 2012 in recognition of his services to British music and charity. David Munns, chairman of the award committee, said of Barlow: "He is one of the UK's most accomplished artists – a unique musician, songwriter and producer who embodies both success and distinction, and who serves as a dedicated ambassador for many charities."[14][97]

Outside music

Acting career

In 2000, Barlow made his acting debut in the ITV1 drama Heartbeat. This was the 150th edition of the show. He played hitch-hiker Micky Shannon.[98] In 2012, Barlow had a cameo in the film Keith Lemon: The Film and in early 2013 Barlow had a cameo in the hit BBC1 show Miranda and also a special in 2015.

Social media

In October 2011, Barlow joined Twitter live on The Xtra Factor to build support for the contestants he mentored during series 8 of the X Factor. Almost immediately after he joined Twitter his following totalled at over 300,000 people.[99] Within two months of joining Twitter, Barlow reached over 1 million followers. Less than two years later he passed the 3 million followers mark.

Charity work

Barlow organised a sponsored climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Comic Relief. Barlow and eight other celebrities: Cheryl Cole, Ben Shephard, Alesha Dixon, Kimberley Walsh, Fearne Cotton, Chris Moyles, Denise Van Outen and Boyzone's Ronan Keating, made it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro safely on 7 March 2009, raising millions for Comic Relief.[100]

Barlow's charity efforts in 2009, including his organising of the BT Comic Relief Kilimanjaro Climb and his organising of 'Children in Need Rocks the Royal Albert Hall', raised in excess £6 million. In addition to the charity events organised by Barlow, he has also shown support for fellow artists' charity efforts including that of Boyzone's Ronan Keating. The pair sang Take That's Back for Good written by Barlow at Ronan's Emerald and Ivy Ball in Battersea, South London, on Saturday. The event raised £650,000 for Cancer Research UK.

His organisation of a very special event at the Royal Albert Hall went ahead in November 2009 and was broadcast the following week. This saw a meeting of Take That with Robbie Williams on stage and a number of unusual duets (including Dame Shirley Bassey with Dizzy Rascal and Take That with Lily Allen). Barlow dedicated the band's song "Rule the World" to "everyone who's lost someone – Dad, this is for you". It was a very special night raising £2M and ending with Barlow seeming to promise it could be an annual event.

It was announced in December 2009 that Barlow had been awarded the prestigious Blue Peter Gold Badge, awarded for outstanding achievements and inspiring children to realise their talents and achieve.[101]

To celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary, Barlow invited family and many friends to a special event in London. It was a rare event that Barlow allowed a popular magazine to photograph the event. A highlight was a special Bingo session hosted by Barlow. Money raised at the event was donated to Barnardo's.

Towards the end of 2009, there has been a huge Twitter campaign to 'Get Gary Knighted' for all of his charity work over the years.[102] The campaign has been mentioned and endorsed by many celebrities, including Chris Moyles of Radio 1.

In February 2010, a project named 'Helping Haiti' was formed by Simon Cowell in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The aim was to bring some of the most recognised music stars across the world together to record a charity single with all proceeds going to the cause. Barlow, along with an array of stars were asked to appear on the cover of Everybody Hurts which sold 453,000 copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling charity record of the 21st century in Britain.[103] Barlow appeared at Twickenham Stadium to perform the hit single "Shame" alongside Robbie Williams in aid of the Help for Heroes charity on 12 September 2010.[104]

Barlow has also donated the original handwritten lyrics to his number 1 hit single Back for Good to help raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Barlow wrote the song in 1995 and it went on to top the charts in 31 countries across the world as well as becoming a top ten hit in America.[105]

In January 2011, Barlow held a special show, named GB40, at Shepherd's Bush Empire to celebrate his 40th birthday. This event saw him take to the stage on his own for the first time in over eleven years as he performs songs that span a his 20-year career in music. He has also announced that all of the profits from the show went to charity.[106]

After the phenomenal success of 'Children in Need Rocks' in 2009, it was announced by Barlow that he is to organise it once again this time in Manchester, with some of the biggest acts in the music industry scheduled to appear. Barlow also confirmed that all proceeds will go to Children in Need. The concert was received positively by the media, with them praising the involvement of Gary Barlow in the Children in Need project.

As well as organising the Children in Need Rocks Manchester concert, Barlow announced he was to helm the official single for the charity, a cover of 'Teardrop' accompanied by a number of artists known as 'The Collective'. The CIN Rocks concert, single and gala contributed to £26 million raised for Children in Need that year.[107]

During the week of Children in Need 2011, Barlow organised a celebrity gala with all proceeds going to the charities associated with Children in Need.

Barlow also donated all proceeds from his Gary Barlow: In Concert event to The Prince's Trust charity. He said: "I hope the money raised through these concerts will make a real difference to young lives. It's really important to me that disadvantaged young people get the support they need, especially at the moment."

In August 2013, the headline act to turn on the Blackpool illuminations pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances leaving the event with no one to turn on the lights or play to the 5,000 in attendance. Upon hearing this, Barlow tweeted that he would step in if the organisers would write a cheque to Children In Need. Bosses quickly made contact with him and made a donation to the charity, with Barlow turning on the lights and performing a number of his hits during the 45 minute set. Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council said: "Gary’s very generous offer on Twitter was extremely flattering and as soon as we saw it we contacted him straight away to take him up on it. Not only has Gary taken time out of his busy schedule to play on Friday, but he has also asked for a donation to charity in place of his performance fee. I am delighted to make that donation to Children in Need." Graham Cain, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure, said: "Gary has shown his love for Blackpool by tweeting about the town and the Illuminations before and he even turned on the illuminations back in 1999. He’s always been a fan of town and has now stepped in during our hour of need."[108][109]

Barlow announced in September 2013 that he would once again be returning with Children in Need Rocks, bringing some of the world's biggest musical and entertainment stars together over 2 nights to raise money for Children in Need. He said of the event: "I’m very excited that these incredible artists are giving their time for a special Charity that is close to my heart."[110]

In October 2013, Barlow traveled directly from the X Factor live results shows to Afghanistan to meet the Armed Forces and experience their day-to-day lives in Camp Bastion. Barlow listened to the soldiers' stories, went for a five-kilometre run with the troops and played a morale-boosting concert for them as a thank you for their incredible hard work.[111]

On 12 November 2013, Barlow sang with Agnetha Fältskog (from ABBA) who was singing live on stage. It was at the BBC Children in Need Rocks 2013 concert in London which Barlow organised.[112]

Personal life


In 2000, Barlow married Dawn Andrews, who was a dancer on their 1995 Nobody Else Tour. They have three children, Daniel (born 2000), Emily (born 2002), and Daisy (born 2009). On 19 February 2012, Barlow announced that he and his wife Dawn were expecting their fourth child.[113] On 4 August 2012 Barlow stated that their daughter, named Poppy, had been delivered stillborn.[114]

Barlow released a short statement reading "Dawn and I are devastated to announce that we've lost our baby. Our focus now is giving [Poppy] a beautiful funeral and loving our three children with all our hearts. We'd ask at this painful time that our privacy be respected". Despite the loss of his daughter one week previously, Barlow performed at the London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony singing the hit "Rule the World", which drew praise internationally for the strength and determination of Barlow to take to the stage so soon after his tragedy.[115] Owing to the bereavement, it was announced that Barlow would not attend the X Factor press launch.[116]

In his autobiography My Take, Barlow revealed that he is a supporter of Liverpool F.C., with their anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" being one of the first songs he learned to play on the piano. He is also a supporter of rugby league team, Warrington Wolves, as well as the New York Knicks NBA Team. Barlow also mentioned in his autobiography that he was on the Edgware Road tube train that was one of the targets of the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

In 2009, Barlow named "Don't Give Up", the 1986 duet between Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, as the song that had most inspired him. He said: "I don't think you can listen to this song without feeling inspired, it could save anybody. The lyrics are so inspirational. Specifically I was having a very low moment in the 1990s and the song came on the radio. There have only been a very few times when I've had to pull the car over to listen to a song – this was one of them."[117]

Barlow's father Colin died aged 71 on 15 October 2009.[118]


During the 2010 General Election campaign, the Conservative Party announced their intention to encourage musical achievement amongst young people in schools with a competition called School Stars. Barlow appeared at a school staged campaign event to endorse the introduction of the programme by David Cameron. Barlow also sang "Greatest Day" at the event. When asked if he supported the Conservatives at the election, Barlow responded: "I would not be here if I was not."[119]

Tax avoidance controversy

In June 2012, it was revealed that along with Take That bandmates Howard Donald, Mark Owen and over 1,100 other people, Barlow had invested £26 million in music industry investment schemes.[120] The news attracted controversy when it was understood that the schemes could serve as tax shelters for wealthy people. Barlow was accused of tax avoidance rather than tax evasion, as the scheme itself was not illegal at the time Barlow invested in it. Barlow's lawyer responded to the claims, stating he "paid significant tax, and that they believed the schemes were not for tax avoidance purposes but were legitimate commercial enterprises". On 10 May 2014 a judge ruled that the scheme was set up for the purpose of avoiding tax, with the scheme generating losses of £336 million to enable Barlow and others to offset these losses against the taxes they were liable to pay from their other earnings. In June 2016 Barlow (and fellow band members Howard Donald and Mark Owen plus their manager Jonathon Wild) announced they would not be appealing the HMRC ruling that they are liable for the tax.[121] Barlow has apologized on Twitter "to anyone who was offended by the tax stories".[121]


Songs written by Barlow

Awards and nominations

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2014 Since I Saw You Last Celebritain UK for Album of the Year[122] Nominated
Let Me Go Celebritain UK for Best Single [122] Nominated
2013 Let Me Go Heart for Best Single of 2013[123] Won
Gary Barlow Live Nordoff-Robbins Award for Best Live Act 2013[124] Nominated
2012 Gary Barlow GQ Award for Outstanding Achievement Won
Gary Barlow Music Industry Trusts Award Honorary Recognition for Barlow's contribution to music over the past two decades.[125] Won
Gary Barlow National Reality Television Award for Best Reality TV Judge[126] Nominated
Gary Barlow OBE for services to Music and Charity.[127] Won
Take That Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music[128] Won
The Flood Ivor Novello Award for PRS Most Performed Work Nominated
Gary Barlow National Television Award for Outstanding Contribution to Charity[129] Won
X Factor National Television Award for Best Television Talent Show[130] Won
2011 Gary Barlow Q Award for Classic Songwriter[131] Won
Shame Q Award for Best Collaboration Won
Shame Virgin Media for Music Video[132] Nominated
Shame Virgin Media for Best Collaboration[133] Nominated
2010 Gary Barlow Blue Peter Gold Badge[101] Won
2009 Gary Barlow The Sun Newspaper's Lord of the Year[134] Won
2008 Shine Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Song Won
2007 Gary Barlow GQ Awards for Man of the Year[135] Won
1998 Gary Barlow BRIT Award for Best British Male[136] Nominated
Open Road The London Awards for Best Album Nominated
Love Won't Wait Top of the Pops for Best Single Nominated
1997 Forever Love FMQ Awards [Finland] for Best Single[137] Won
Forever Love TMF Awards [Netherlands] for Best Single Nominated
Open Road GQ Awards for Best Album Nominated
Forever Love Echo Awards for Best Single Won
1996 Never Forget Ivor Novello Award Won
Back for Good Billboard International Hit of the Year[138] Won
1995 Back for Good Ivor Novello Award for the Song of the year Won
1994 Pray Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song[96] Won
1993 Gary Barlow Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of The Year Award 1993[25] Won



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