'This is history!' - 25 facts about the Oasis concerts at Knebworth Park 25 years ago
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Oasis played Knebworth Park near Stevenage 25 years ago this month.
So what else happened in the summer of 1996?
A quarter of a century ago, John Major was Prime Minister.
Spice Girls were top of the UK charts with debut single Wannabe.
Germany had just won the 1996 Euros – after beating England on penalties at Wembley in the semi-finals.
Alex Ferguson's Manchester United lifted the Premier League title.
Independence Day was No.1 at the cinema box office, just weeks after the first Mission: Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise had also raked in the money.
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But for many, the high point of that year was when the Gallagher brothers played two record-breaking nights at Knebworth Park in front of a quarter of a million people.
A special live album and DVD/Blu-ray, entitled ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’, will be released on November 19 via Big Brother Recordings Ltd. Formats include 2CD and triple LP on heavyweight vinyl with the digital version of the album featuring HD audio.
The DVD will be released as a triple disc set including the ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ cinematic documentary, plus both nights of the live concert in full, with the Blu-ray in single disc format.
Here's 25 facts about Oasis' era-defining Knebworth 1996 gigs.
1. When were the Oasis Knebworth concerts?
Oasis played two Knebworth concerts on Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11, 1996, in front of a combined audience of 250,000 fans.
Robbie Williams went one better in 2003 by playing three successive nights at Knebworth.
2. How much did Oasis tickets cost?
Tickets for the iconic gigs cost £22.50.
They were soon selling for much more once the two nights had sold out.
3. When did tickets go on sale?
Tickets for Oasis at Knebworth went on sale at 9am on Saturday, May 11, 1996 – just three months before the huge concerts.
Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup Final on the same day.
4. How did you get tickets for the gig?
In an age before booking tickets online, you had to phone up ticket lines or buy them in person from official outlets.
Queues formed outside local record shops and ticket offices overnight ahead of tickets going on sale, and fans around the world spent the day on their landline phones trying to get through to constantly engaged booking lines.
The two gigs broke box office records with reportedly one in every 20 people in the UK applying for tickets.
With an estimated 2.5 million people applying, Oasis could have sold out a further 18 Knebworth dates.
5. What time did the gigs start?
Gates opened at noon and the show started around 2pm.
There was a 11pm curfew, but people were still queuing to get trains home from Stevenage station in the early hours of the morning, while coaches took hours to get out of the Knebworth car park.
The gigs even had their own official Oasis radio station for the weekend – Radio Supernova. Fans could tune in for the latest concert and travel info within a 20 mile radius of the site.
6. Who supported Oasis on the Saturday?
Support acts for Oasis on Saturday, August 10 were The Bootleg Beatles, The Chemical Brothers, Ocean Colour Scene, Manic Street Preachers and The Prodigy.
7. Who was on the Oasis bill on the Sunday?
Playing the Sunday were the likes of Kula Shaker, Dreadzone, Cast, The Charlatans, and Manic Street Preachers.
Other than Oasis, the Manics were the only band to play both days.
8. Singer's tribute
The Charlatans' keyboardist Rob Collins died in a car crash in Wales just three weeks before the gig.
Looking back on Knebworth, Tim Burgess, the band's frontman, recently tweeted: "We took the decision to play the gig."
Primal Scream keyboard player Martin Duffy stood in at Knebworth.
Oasis singer Liam Gallagher dedicated (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? album track Cast No Shadow to Rob Collins, saying "live forever, mate".
9. Some Might Say...
Of the concerts, Liam Gallagher says: “Knebworth for me was the Woodstock of the 90’s.
"It was all about the music and the people. I can’t remember much about it, but I’ll never forget it. It was Biblical.”
10. Star guest list
Among the celebrity guests at Knebworth were Kate Moss, Jarvis Cocker, Chris Evans, Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall, then EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon, and Brookside's Anna Friel.
There were thousands in the guest hospitality area both nights.
11. 'This is history!'
Noel Gallagher said during the concerts: "This is history. This is history. Right here. Right now. This is history!"
Liam Gallagher responded: "I thought this was Knebworth!"
12. What did the band open with?
After coming on stage to the sounds of The Swamp Song, the band belted out Columbia from debut album Definitely Maybe, followed by Acquiesce and debut single Supersonic.
13. What was Oasis' Knebworth set?
The band's setlist both nights included Columbia, Acquiesce, Supersonic, Hello, Some Might Say, Roll With It, Slide Away, Morning Glory, Round Are Way, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Whatever, Cast No Shadow, Wonderwall, The Masterplan, Don't Look Back in Anger, My Big Mouth, It's Gettin' Better (Man!!), Live Forever, Champagne Supernova and I Am The Walrus.
14. You gotta Roll without it!
There was one classic Oasis song missing from the band's Knebworth set – Definitely Maybe's opening track.
Noel Gallagher says: “I can’t believe we never played Rock ‘n’ Roll Star!”
15. What new tracks did Oasis play at Knebworth?
Riding high following the multi-platinum success of second album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis debuted two new tracks at Knebworth – My Big Mouth and It's Gettin' Better (Man!!).
Both later appeared on third album, Be Here Now.
16. Be Here Now
The special three CD 2016 re-release Chasing The Sun edition of Oasis' third album Be Here Now includes My Big Mouth recorded live at Knebworth Park in 1996.
17. Rock 'n' Roll (guest) Star
The Stone Roses guitarist John Squire joined the band on stage at Knebworth for the encore of Champagne Supernova.
18. 'I am the Egg Man...'
After The Bootleg Beatles had opened the Saturday, Oasis closed their set with a cover of The Beatles' I Am the Walrus.
Altogether now: "I am the Egg Man, they are the Egg Men, I am the walrus, Goo goo ga joob!"
19. Time Flies...
A picture looking out from the stage at the Knebworth gigs was used for the cover of Oasis compilation Time Flies… 1994–2009.
The greatest hits CD reach No.1, becoming the group's eighth UK chart-topping album.
20. Boris writes...
Boris Johnson, now Prime Minister, wrote about the Knebworth concerts in The Daily Telegraph and the comparisons with The Beatles.
He concluded: "Oasis? It's a mirage."
21. What's a Wonderwall?
Boris Johnson also wrote in his Telegraph column: "As for the smash hit Wonderwall – what on earth is it, Wonderwall?
"Some kind of Polyfilla? One is left completely in the dark."
22. From support acts to headliners
Two groups that supported Oasis at Knebworth in 1996 have since gone on to headline festivals at the same Hertfordshire venue.
The Prodigy topped the bill on the opening Friday night of the 2014 Sonisphere Festival.
Iron Maiden and Metallica played the following nights.
Ocean Colour Scene headlined the 2018 Cool Britannia Festival at Knebworth Park.
23. Concert film
While Oasis have since split up, and the Gallagher brothers are hardly on the best of terms, both Liam and Noel are executive producers of a forthcoming documentary celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Knebworth gigs.
Feature length documentary Oasis Knebworth 1996 will be released in cinemas worldwide from Thursday, September 23.
Directed by Grammy Award-winner Jake Scott, it is built around extensive, and never-before-seen archive concert and backstage footage from the event.
Tickets for Oasis Knebworth 1996 will go on sale on Tuesday, August 10 – marking 25 years to the day since the first night of the landmark concerts.
A full live album and DVD/Blu-ray, also titled ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’, is due for release on November 19 via Big Brother Recordings Ltd.
24. Champagne Supernova... in the bath!
Noel Gallagher had a bath in the Queen Elizabeth bedroom bathtub, which is a four poster tub. Knebworth House custodian Henry Lytton Cobbold recalls: "As it was a big weekend for them, my dad brought him a bottle of Champagne to have in the bath.
"Noel’s talked about this since saying he was brought a bottle of Champagne by a liveried servant when in fact it was his Lordship."
25. Leaving party
The band signed the Knebworth House visitors’ book before leaving. Henry Lytton Cobbold told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: "Noel signed ‘Noel Gallagher – clean!’
"Then his bodyguard wrote ‘Dirty!’
"We should have perhaps kept the soap."
Feature length documentary Oasis Knebworth 1996 is released in cinemas worldwide from Thursday, September 23. Tickets go on sale from Tuesday, August 10. Sign up for information at www.oasisknebworth1996.com