Graham Lambert - Loaded - January 1997
Graham Lambert, guitarist with Madchester band The Inspiral Carpets, toured the world with Noel Gallagher during the early '90s when the greatest songwriter of his generation worked his apprenticeship as a roadie for the band. Lambert now manages a five piece "rocking indie guitar band" called Alone and works as a freelance journalist.
"I first met Noel on his 21st birthday, 29 May 1988 I think. I was bootlegging James and a horribly out of tune Stone Roses at the International Two in Manchester. He asked me for a copy of the tape, I sttarted talking to him and he asked me if I was going to see the Inspiral Carpets later on that week. I told him I was kind of in them sort of thing.
"It turned ut he was a bit of a fan after hearing us on Piccadilly Radio and he started working as a roadie for us in early 1989. He sson became a close friend of all the band and, in fact, made history by becoming the first roadie to start a job whilst on crutches after breaking his leg working for th gas board. I remember one gig at the Duchess of York and the band had to carry him up some stairs and across a fire escape.
"At that time he had a flat top like Morrissey which is a frightening thing to see on someone with a mono-brow, but he lived round the corner from my girlfriend and we got on straight away. I liked him because he was dead chilled out and we used to swap tapes. At the end of 1988 our singer Steve Holt left and we needed a replacement, Noel had an audition but hs voice didn't fit.
"We took off in 1989 and started touring quite heavily. Noel started off as a guitar roadie but could really play all the instruments and would sometimes soundcheck if Craig [Gill - drums] or one of us was asleep on the tourbus or something. We all got on hwith him for different reasons, Martyn [Walsh - bass] and Craig went with him to raves in Warrington, he and Clint [Boon - keyboards] had an incredible knowledge of obscure pop trivia and, apart from the guitars, we had football.
"We'd both followed our teams through thick and thin and I went with him to two football matches in Argentina when we were playing there. He used to play for our team. I used to play in defence for Oldham Boys before I got a leg injury but still enjoyed crunching tackles. Noel was more of a midfield playmaker, a good player. He used to get frustrated if we didn't take it seriously enough and I remember once he took his shirt off and stormed off the pitch. I think he got fed up with our ineptitude. But generally speaking we got on really well.
"Noel alwasy had ideas. I've got a demo of him - some songs which he wrote on four-track in the Autumn 1988 - singing and playing. I know it's worth a fortune but I won't be selling that or the early Oasis stuff I've got. The demo was competent but not that hot. At the end of 1991 Noel did his first gig with Oasis.
"He seemed to like the experience of playing with his own band but he had more experience than the rest of the group. I think he probably thought the rest of the band weren't clued up and that frustrated him. He was always tinkering with stuff and playing The beatles on the tour bus although I wasn't a huge fan of that. The Beatles got on my tits a bit. The first time I saw Oasis I liked the music straightaway, there'd been a huge improvement from the first demo.
"After that we went on a European five week tour of all the toilets on the continent. It was totally gruelling and the relationship between Noel and the band began to strain. We all needed a break from each other. We didn't see him from December 1992 until the spring/summer of the next year but both parties benefitted from it.
"The next time I saw him was at an Australian Doors concert at the academy in Manchester. He had a new 10 song Oasis demo with him and was, I remember, wearing a light brown v-neck jumper which looked terrible. I'm glad he's got all that together. Then, in early 1994 we were headlining Sound City at the Tramshed in Glasgow. I thought Oasis were brilliant, with the over-driven guitars and all that. After they had their first two singles out I went to see them play at the Leeds Irish Centre. It must have been in August 1994, the night ater that guy had smacked him on stage in Newcastle and he had tried to hit him with his guitar and pulled the amps over.
"We went backstage and were having a chat and everything was cool. It meant a lot to me that, because we were still going and they were taking off. He was like the bloke I met back in 1988. Chilled out even with a black eye.
"I knew Liam but not well, he was always at album launches. He was good for a laugh and always going to be a good frontman.
"We ended up getting a new road crew in 1993. A lot of people thought we treated him unfairly but us five and Noel knew that was not the case.
"I haven't seen him for ages...he has been through a lot in his life during the last three years ...I totally admire what he has acheived and hope if we meet we still get on."