Chris Hutton - Select - December 1998
Every group has had one: the hapless, well-meaning soul who can't play properly and makes goonish faces in the photos. It's either the band or them. They simply have to go. Meet music's nearly men...
Chris Hutton: ousted by Liam, but likes his Murphy's
"I can't stand The Beatles," says Chris Hutton. "And I don't remember Guigs ever mentioning he liked them either. I mean, you wouldn't have caught many Manchester lads getting into a group of scousers."
Chris was the first singer in Oasis precursor The Rain. He named the band, not in honour of the superlative Beatles B-side, but after the weather condition regularly prevailing in the band's native city. The Burnage-based line-up featured Paul 'Guigs' McGuigan and Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs, both of whom he knew from Perry Boy footie casual days (essential uniform: moustaches and designer cardies).
Once Madchester had exploded, the 'taches went and they set about emulating their idols, in a kind of baggy take on Joy Division. Aside from an obvious Stone Roses influence, The Rain were hardly recognisable as a foretaste of what was to come. "There was a darker side to it," Chris says. "And I think the lyrics had more meaning."
One such song, called "Rooftop Rave", was inspired by the Strangeways prison riots of 1990.
The lyrics went: "See Paul Taylor on the roof/Playing a tune on his guitar/What about the rest of the boys?/They're having a rave on the roof!"
The trouble was, Chris wasn't counting on the Gallaghers and the persuasive power of their charms. While the elder brother was a distant figure known for disappearing for months at a time with Inspiral Carpets, Chris knew Liam. "We never saw eye to eye," he bristles. "We never fought, but we were definitely of each other." The Rain's gigs would regularly be attended by this monobrowed figure standing at the front. Then he started hanging around the band at soundchecks and rehearsals, too. "I just thought he was this funny hanger-on," Chris recalls.
His suspicions remained unaroused. Despite often seeing Bonehead and Guigs huddled in the corner with Liam talking urgently, the push, when it came in April 1991, was totally unexpected.
"It was a total surprise," says Hutton, still baffled. "There was never any warning. I just thought the band was doing really well, we were getting some good press and attention from [Smiths bassist] Andy Rourke."
The sacking technique was a combination of the old false split-up and the evasive phone call treatment. Chris remains convinced that Liam was bribing the others to take him on with the promise of Noel: "He was a name, with all the connections. I'm sure it was that, because Liam then wasn't any better at singing than me."
He was, he admits, "gutted". But having witnessed an early Oasis rehearsal at first hand, he says he wouldn't have been able to take Noel's dictatorial drilling.
"I wouldn't have stuck for any of the bullshit that they have. I'm not bitter about it, because of the way they've turned out. They weren't like that. Guigs was a totally different person then, he's just in the background now. You've got to have your own life."
He now works as a costcutter for a childrenswear company based near Burnage, still goes to a gig a week and reckons Oasis are "alright", but prefers their early stuff. Favourite tune?
"Acquiesce". But I think they made a real mistake there, putting that on the B-side."