Twenty-five years ago today, a new record called Definitely Maybe landed on the shelves of U.K. record stores, sparking a frenzy across the country that would eventually feel like a second coming of Beatlemania. Oasis already had a huge base of support all over England when Definitely Maybe landed thanks to two years of touring and the success of lead-off singles “Supersonic,” “Shakermaker,” and “Live Forever.” But the industry was still taken by surprise when Definitely Maybe debuted at Number One with 86,000 sales its first week. That made it the fast-selling debut LP in British history, the first of many records they’d set over the next few years.
Here’s video of Oasis performing “Live Forever” at Glastonbury on June 26th, 1994. Peter Gabriel, Pulp, and the Levelers headlined that year, and Oasis were relegated to a smaller stage on Sunday afternoon. They only played for a little over 30 minutes, but they made their time count and surely won over many fans that night who rushed out to buy Definitely Maybe when it arrived two months later.
“Oasis may not be the saviors of rock & roll, but they’re definitely a breath of fresh air,” Rolling Stone wrote shortly after the album came out. “Lacking the self-absorption that characterized former ‘next big things’ like Suede and the Manic Street Preachers, Oasis combine the Undertones’ punk-pop sensibilities with the glam of T. Rex. The result is the band’s debut album, Definitely Maybe, 11 three-and-a-half–minute bursts of trashy guitar rifts, slinky vocals and a whole lotta carefree attitude.”
Just weeks after Glastonbury, Oasis crossed the Atlantic to play their first American show at the Wetlands Preserve in New York City. They came back in September to play tiny clubs across the country. It was brutal work with almost no days off, but they’d watched the Stone Roses suffer enormously for neglecting America after breaking big in the U.K. and were determined not to repeat that mistake. Despite the effort, Definitely Maybe peaked at Number 50 on the U.S. Billboard 200. But it was a start and they’d build on it for years to come.
Popular on Rolling Stone
On that first U.S. tour, Liam and Noel Gallagher chatted with Rolling Stone writer Matt Hendrickson about their sibling rivalry. “The reason we don’t get on is that we know each other too well,” Noel said. “We’ve known each other so long that when one of us starts acting like a pop star, he’ll get a cut-down from the other one. And usually it’s Liam getting one from me.”
These tensions would remain during the next 15 years and eventually destroy the band after a bitter backstage fight at an French festival. The brothers have toured in warring camps every since, speaking to each other solely through nasty barbs in the press. A reunion at some future point seems almost inevitable. And if they played Definitely Maybe straight through, they could probably play Wembley Stadium for 25 consecutive nights. A $100 million payday is just sitting there, waiting for them to put their bullshit aside and start playing music again.