Take That were firmly put on my radar as an eight-year-old kid, when my older sister Fay began her obsession with them. Fay would like nothing more than to annoy me by playing the 1992 Take That and Party album at full blast, over and over... and over again! Her wall was plastered from top to bottom in Take That pictures, with Mark Owen closest to her bed. I was fairly indifferent to their music at that age and didn't know what all the fuss was about, but a year later they announced they were coming to Hylands Park to play 'Chelmsford Spectacular' and this was BIG Essex news! It was just down the road from our family home, and thousands of tickets sold out in minutes. I started paying more attention now, as Take That had been catapulted to massive fame, and they were coming to entertain almost every teenage girl in Essex! Little did I know I was to play that very same site many years later myself.
My sister was lucky enough to get tickets after a very tense morning of queuing and was allowed to go accompanied by my Uncle John. She was beside herself at the concert, spending the whole evening on my Uncle's shoulders, screaming at the top of her lungs to every word of every song. She bought all the merchandise home she could get her hands on, including her teenage pride and joy - a full size Take That flag that she managed to find a space for amongst all the other band paraphernalia in her bedroom. I have many memories of Fay sitting for hours listening to Pray in her CD Walkman over and over again dreaming of marrying Mark Owen. It was hard not to be impressed by my sister's dedication to this band and I MAY have even learnt and performed the 'Pray' dance routine from the video to impress her mates!
Fast forward 15 years and I had decided that working in a call centre couldn't be all that life had to offer me. I had decided to audition for the X Factor (again, this time hopefully with more luck)! I rehearsed two songs; Take That's Up All Night and Stevie Wonder's Superstition. It was the latter that managed to get me through the first round in front of the XF judges.
When I came to release my debut album in November 2010, I was up against Take That's massive Progress album that had come out a few weeks earlier. This was the biggest album of the year, and it was hard to believe I was even in a chart battle with the biggest band of the moment. They pipped me to the No.1 post. It's my only album not to go to No.1 - so cheers guys!!
Take That's Progress Live tour at Wembley Arena is still one of the best shows I have ever seen. The production was incredible, and the atmosphere was electric. It made a huge impression on me as an entertainer, as I was in the infancy of my own music career, and I watched on in awe of them entertaining the packed stadium of screaming fans.
It's been a real career highlight to get to know all the guys.
I was to work professionally with Gary several times. Firstly when he was a judge on XF and I was co-presenting Xtra Factor in 2011 and 2012. I also had a the pleasure of performing Shine with Gary at the Royal Albert Hall for his Prince's Trust gig. And then finally as his guest judge for XF judge's houses in New York, 2013. I also toured the UK as special guest to Robbie in 2013 which was great fun.
Take That have been a band for nearly three decades. What they have achieved over those years is an inspiration to me. So to be asked to support Take That at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park in July this year was a dream come true. Not only could I not refuse to perform in front of 60,000 people but I genuinely love the guys. I am incredibly proud to warm up the crowd with my live band and guarantee it's going to be a great night! Bring it on!!
Olly plays British Summer Time on Saturday 9 July in Hyde Park supporting Take That, together with Ella Eyre, Jamie Lawson, Nathan Sykes, plus more to be announced.
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