They were at the height of their fame and riding high on their success in Britain’s biggest boyband.
But when Robbie Williams was kicked out (or left, depending on who you ask) Take That, his friendship with Gary Barlow turned into one of the most bitter feuds the pop world had seen.
Gary was always classed as the brains behind Take That’s chart-topping hits as the band’s song writer.
Meanwhile, Robbie, who was just 16 when he joined Take That, cultivated his image as the ‘cheeky chappie’ of the group who was always joking around.
But then things imploded when he failed to turn up at rehearsals back in 1995 and instead spent a raucous weekend at Glastonbury with his new pals, the Gallagher brothers.
The rest of the band were incensed and when he finally returned to work with Gary, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen, they told him exactly what they thought.
They told him he should leave the band sooner rather than later if he wasn’t prepared to commit to what they were trying to achieve.
In shock, Robbie was driven back to Stoke-on-Trent in tears. It later emerged that by that point the singer was already in the grips of alcoholism.
He later admitted: “I was a pathetic, pitiful creature. The first thing I would do in the morning would be to empty the bottle of wine that I had fallen asleep over two hours earlier. I’d have taken a line of coke because I couldn’t get up without it.”
And without the structure of work to keep him on the straight and narrow, Robbie started to party even harder.
He was gaining weight and was furious about how he had been treated by his former bandmates.
Robbie, then 21, branded Gary a ‘clueless w**ker’ and said the group, “had all the creativity of mentally unstable morons.”
“I hated our music and in the end I also hated myself,” he raged.
But for Gary, things couldn’t have looked more different. He had worked out and got into shape and when Take That split a few years later he launched his solo career.
He accused Robbie of being jealous of his £6.5million fortune earned from his songwriting royalties.
“I do wonder if that's the source of his feelings because I probably made six times more than they did,” he sniped before his debut single Forever Love rode in at number one.
But everything changed in a heartbeat with Robbie’s breakthrough song Angels. The 1997 hit was a runaway success and catapulted Robbie to a whole new league of success.
He won three BRIT Awards and sold six million records while Gary was forced to cancel a show at Glasgow's Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre because of ticketing issues.
And when Gary’s second album, Stronger, limped into the charts number 35 he got dropped by his record label and relegated to the proverbial scrap heap.
Madame Tussauds even melted his waxwork down.
He couldn’t understand how Robbie had got to where he had, lamenting the fact his nemesis had shown zero interest in writing, preferring to ‘pick his nose’ in the corner.
And he knew Robbie would be loving it. “I can imagine the chat they'll be having in Robbie-land tonight,” he said at the time.
“The cheers, wolf whistles and belly laughs. There's no question now, mate, you're the winner, hands down."
For Robbie, his success was like a red rag to a bull. And when friends warned him not to throw it all away amid his spiralling battle with drink and drugs, he sniped: "Throw it all away? And see that fat **** Barlow dance on my grave? No way."
Despite his fame, he continued to slag off Gary and Take That at every opportunity, admitting: "My problem has always been with Gary. It was always with Gary.
"I wanted to crush him. I wanted to crush the memory of the band – and I didn’t let go.
"You know, even when he was down, I didn’t let go."
And Gary was crushed. Retreating to his Cheshire mansion, he disappeared from the public eye to write songs for others tried to ‘eat away the popstar’.
Trapped in a vicious cycle of binge-eating and bulimia, his weight balloon to 17st – but he didn’t care.
"In some ways it sort of needed to happen. I had that ridiculous nineties period where the ego was just getting bigger and you just think, 'There's only one way back from this and it was down’,” he said.
"When you've been big, the only other thing you can be is really not big… is to sort of lose everything.
“Simply because it was a really humiliating thing that happened. I'd been in this band, it all ends, you get dropped, one of your band members goes on to be stratospheric, you're just the loser.
“There's like a big 'L' wherever you look, all over your body, you're just a loser. I just didn't want to be me. I just hated myself at that point."
Then, once again the tables tipped in 2006 when Take That reunited to critical acclaim as Robbie’s career was on the slide.
It would be four years before he would rejoin the group for their Progress album and tour and lay their ghosts to rest for good.
They have since performed together on the X Factor in 2018 and the band have become even closer during lockdown, performing a special gig for fans a few weeks ago – minus Jason Orange, who quit in 2014.
Now, Robbie has revealed he is writing new songs with Gary and plans to tour with Take That in the future.
Speaking on Mark Wright’s Heart Evening Show, Williams promised to “ride again” with his former partners.
He said: “I’ve been writing some songs with Gary Barlow in the last few weeks too.
“Yeah, so, you know, we will ride again, me and my brothers. I don’t know when that’s going to be but we will ride again.”
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