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Robert Peter Williams was born on February 13th 1974 and spent his childhood years living in Stoke-on-Trent with his mum and older sister Sally. He was always the class joker at St Margaret Ward High School in Stoke and had a particular gift for singing and acting. His great love then (and still is now) is Port Vale FC. His mum used to own a pub just down the road from their training ground and Rob loves to tell the story of the time he threw two thousand pounds out of the window on a match day!!! I'm sure his mum loved him for that, especially when her bras and knickers followed! Along with his mum Jan, he joined a local theatre group, and was often seen starring in various musicals and plays, his biggest part was playing 'Dodger' in Oliver.

Rob joined Take That when he was only 16 (that's him on the left hand side of the picture!). He had only one job previous to that, as a double glazing salesman, but apparently he wasn't very good - he would tell customers not to buy them because they were so bad!

Rob's mum was the person responsible for him joining the band, she saw the advert for auditions and suggested that he apply. He did so, and as soon as the other members saw him, they knew he was the right man for the job. For five years, Robbie became the joker of the band, always smiling and playing gags on people as they rose to record-breaking stardom.

By the demise of Take That they had notched up eight number ones and three hit albums, not to mention millions of adoring fans around the world. But on July 17th 1995 all that was to stop, when he left the band. 'I quit' read all the headlines in the newspapers the next day. But, over the following weeks, Robbie gave interviews to the effect that he was infact given the push. Since then there have been many rumours and misquotes about what Rob has said and what the other members of Take That have said about Rob's time in the band. What Rob confirms is that being a member of the band was constricting. Never being allowed to be his own person, Rob was the one that no-one took seriously. He gave up putting input into the band from early on and just did what he was told.

They had strict rules about how they should behave and Rob being the extrovert that he is found these 'rules' unbelievably hard on him. They were cushioned and protected from the outside world and Rob once said it was similar to being in prison - 'Take That Towers'. He seeked refuge in Cocaine and Alcohol, both of which were ready available to him with no arguments.

It's believed by some that his record label had a clause in his contract to prevent him from releasing any solo singles when he left Take That.

Various legal battles ensued until finally, on June 27th 1996 Robbie held a press conference at a London hotel where he announced that his contract with BMG was ending and he had signed to 'Chrysalis Records'.

His first ever solo single on this label would be George Michael's 'Freedom' . It was released on July 29th 1996 exactly one year after his departure from Take That. It reached No 2 in the UK charts, narrowly beaten by the Spice Girls.

Life began to get a bit rough for Robbie during the following months, he met Jacquie Hamilton-Smith at a New Years Eve Party of 1996, moved in with her the next day and partied (in more ways that one) for exactly one year before coming to his senses.

In the middle of all this he released his second single 'Old Before I Die' on April 14th 1997 which also reached No 2 in the charts.

At the beginning of June 1997 after many bad reports in the media, following the advice of Elton John and George Michael, Rob checked himself into Clouds House Drink and Drugs Rehabilitation Clinic in Salisbury, Wilstshire to undego treatment for his addiction to alcohol and drugs. Rob was photographed (right) as he left for the rehab centre joking about the lack of attention he was receiving compared to other celebrities that have gone down the same road as him previously.

After spending just 4 weeks at the centre Rob emerged as a slim 11 stone figure, having lost 2 stones (28lbs), sporting a new extremely short haircut, and hopefully feeling much better.

The release of 'Lazy Days' followed soon after on July 14th, and made it's first appearance in the UK charts at No 8, to be followed shortly after by South Of The Border.

December 1997 was the real beginning for Rob, he released 'Angels' as his Christmas single, never knowing quite what an impact it would have on the market. Into the new year of 1998 it was still in the charts and 'Life Thru A Lens' shot back into the album charts and has been there ever since. Robbie truly had arrived, signing up thousands of new fans daily.

He began to gain respect from every quarter of the music business and showed that he definitely was NOT the next Andrew Ridgely! With songs from the last album 'I've Been Expecting You' gaining him even more credebility in the pop world (Millennium being his first solo number one back in September 98).

He's even managed to notch up several Ivor Novello Awards too, something no-one could ever have predicted say four years ago.

We are all now excitedly waiting the new album 'Singing When Your Winning' to be released on 28th August 2000, the title says it all really doesn't it?

Rob definately is getting the last laugh.