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The Verve Call It Quits -- Again

Sing a hymn and say goodbye to the late, great Verve

April 28, 1999 12:00 AM ET

To almost no one's surprise, the Verve, considered by some to be guitar rock's last great hope, has thrown in the towel for the second time in four years. Despite the fact that 1997's Urban Hymns allowed the British band to break into the notoriously difficult American market, earning them a platinum record and a Grammy nomination for their efforts, the band's problems with one another were insurmountable.

The group's management alerted media of the split Tuesday (April 28) with a low-key press release that stated that the members of the Verve have amicably agreed to the breakup, and will turn their attention to individual projects. Ironically, the breakup may be the only amicable thing the band has ever done. Almost from the onset of their decade-long career, which began with a live show at their alma mater Winstanley College in Wigan in the fall of 1989, there has been creative tension between the band members. When the tension turned destructive, the band imploded, as it did during an American tour to support 1995's Northern Soul. "There was always a power struggle between Richard [Ashcroft, singer] and [guitarist] Nick McCabe. They could never agree on anything. It's what destroyed the band the first time, and what finally did them in," said a source close to the band.

After their initial split, the band buried their differences and reformed a year later to record the sprawling Urban Hymns, which they took all the way to the top of the U.K. charts.

For all intents and purposes, the band has been broken up since their final gig at Ireland's Slane Castle last August, when their manager Jaz Summers told the BBC that that show would be their last and he didn't know if the band would record together after that. But the final trouble had begun a month before that, when McCabe announced that he was not going to play live shows with the band for the rest of the year. This alone would have been a blow to the unity of the band, but it came right on the heels of a canceled German tour in June, after bassist Simon Jones was felled by a viral infection.

Rumors about their breakup have been rampant ever since Ashcroft began recording his solo album last November with drummer Pete Salisbury. But, according to insiders, that is not what broke them up. The band blamed "impossible circumstances" for their decision. For his part, Ashcroft revealed that the breakup has caused him much consternation. "The decision to split the band did not come without a great deal of stress to me personally," Ashcroft explained. "I have always given everything to the band and would have continued to do so if circumstances had not made it impossible."

"I would like to thank the fans for their loyal support and their phenomenal response to Urban Hymns. I feel more positive now a decision has been made -- being in limbo isn't good for the soul," wrote Ashcroft in the release. "I can now move forward and put my energies into new songs for a new album."

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