He became famous with Take That in the 90s and became a superstar as a solo artist. But the career had dark sides. At 50, Robbie Williams wants to leave the negative things behind him.
When Robbie Williams is on stage, he has his fans under control. The British pop star noticed a while ago that not only he, but also his audience is getting older. “When we were a little younger, they kept their hands up,” he joked at a promotional event for his last album “XXV” in London. “Nowadays, if I say, ‘I want to see your hands,’ they might do that for the first verse.” Robbie Williams turns 50 today, and just like his fans, he’s taking it easy.
He gave around 40 concerts in 2023, but with generous breaks between performances. The days when he completed gigantic European tours and jetted from one stadium to the next are over. “Something like this is a huge challenge. I usually end up either in the intensive care unit or in the rehab clinic,” he said in an interview with the German Press Agency in London a few years ago. “I only say that half-jokingly. So it’s not something I want to do too often.”
Career of superlatives
Since he became famous in his teens as the youngest band member with Take That, the charismatic singer from the often rainy Stoke-on-Trent has had a superlative career. He won the hearts of fans with the boy band, but was still a little in the shadow of bandleader Gary Barlow. After leaving, he quickly became a superstar as a solo artist – with countless hit singles that have long since become pop classics, such as “Angels”, “Let Me Entertain You”, “Rock DJ” and “Feel”, with successful forays into the swing genre Performing in front of tens of thousands of people or on the show stage in Las Vegas.
Williams’ life was marked not only by spectacular highs, but also by some lows that left their mark. The entertainer with the still youthful, mischievous grin said he had experienced “too much too soon” in a Netflix series about his life. Self-doubt, panic attacks, alcohol and drug excesses, burnout – these were the dark sides of the immense success.
His verbal attacks against his Take That colleagues, particularly Gary Barlow, are now embarrassing for Williams. Williams is aware that he often got in his own way. “I’m not just tearing down bridges, I’m making some bridges disappear completely,” he admitted in an interview with the dpa in November 2023. “Then I get a team to help me rebuild the bridges, and then I burn the bridges again. It goes on like this.”
Williams on Chambers: “We are friends”
The singer was able to put things right again with both Take That and his long-standing, congenial songwriting partner and musical director Guy Chambers. “We talked about breaking up briefly, but I don’t remember how it went,” jokes Williams about his reconciliation with Chambers, from whom he split in 2002. The matter has now been dealt with. “We are friends, we write together.”
With regard to Take That, Robbie Williams expresses his gratitude. He describes the temporary return to the band as a “vital step” on the way to coming to terms with himself. “I was full of anger, bitterness, annoyance and frustration,” says the boy band’s former rebel. “And I got rid of all that, it was buried.” It was also good for him to be able to “hide” on stage next to his four colleagues. It’s quite possible that he’ll join Take That again at some point. “They are my brothers. I really love them.”
For a long time, Williams, who likes to appear scantily clad on Instagram, was considered a womanizer. Relationships with the singers Nicole Appleton (All Saints), Geri Halliwell and Melanie Chisholm (both Spice Girls) did not last long, also because the public attention was too great. Today his personal life is stable. The Brit has been in a relationship with his wife Ayda Field (44) since 2006 and married since 2010. He met the American at a time when he wasn’t feeling well mentally. She stood by him and is considered his rock. The couple have four children and live in Los Angeles relatively unmolested by the British tabloid press, which used to follow Williams’ every move.
Port Vale Club President
Shortly before his birthday, the passionate football fan was given a special honor. The English third division club Port Vale, Williams’s favorite club, appointed him club president. “I am very proud to be your president,” Williams said. “Don’t treat me any different. That’s all I ask of you.” Port Vale denied rumors of a possible takeover.
Looking ahead to his 50th birthday, Williams expressed hope “that I can finally leave many of the things that are not good for me behind me.” But it wasn’t that easy, he admitted jokingly. “For something to change, you have to change yourself. And I’m a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of my own mental health.”
Next summer, Robbie Williams will give another of his gigantic concerts in the British capital London in the famous Hyde Park – and will probably be watching with interest to see how long the audience’s hands stay up.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.