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13 February 1974, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, England. Williams was the cheeky chappie in hugely successful boy band Take That, and at the time appeared to be the only one who could be badly behaved (or normal). When Take That broke up the predictions were that Mark Owen (the nice one) and Gary Barlow (the voice and marketability) would succeed. Little hope was given to Williams, who immediately set about stirring up the media with anti-Barlow tales. While Barlow was being groomed as the UK's new George Michael, Williams caused mayhem. He partied, he overindulged (drink and drugs) and he seemed to pay little attention to the music. Fittingly, August 1996's debut single was a cover version of Michael's "Freedom". Following a spell in a clinic for detoxification, a seemingly wiser Williams stepped out into the glare of the sunshine, blinked, and set about recording an excellent album that eclipsed Barlow's debut both musically and critically. Life Thru A Lens, was a joy throughout and contained the symbolic "Old Before I Die", which followed "Freedom" to number 2 in the UK charts. The comparative failure of follow-up singles "Lazy Days" and "South Of The Border' cast doubt on Williams" staying power, before the Christmas single "Angels" almost single-handedly revived his ailing career. His album, which had slumped, entered the UK Top 10 for the first time and eventually climbed to number one 28 weeks after it was first released. Never before had so many pundits and critics been proved so wrong.

His renaissance continued with "Millennium" entering the UK singles chart at number 1 in September 1998, and I've Been Expecting You topping the album chart two months later. Williams was also announced to be the biggest selling album artist of 1998. Featuring backing vocals by Neil Tennant ( Pet Shop Boys ) and Neil Hannon ( Divine Comedy ), "No Regrets", one of Williams' finest songs to date, surprisingly stalled at number 4 in December. The wonderfully self-deprecating "Strong" debuted at the same position in March. In 1999, Williams set about trying to woo America, touring in support of The Ego Has Landed, a selection of the best tracks from both albums. In November, he returned to the top of the UK charts with the double a-side, "She's The One"/"It's Only Us". The former song was written and previously recorded by Karl Wallinger of World Party, ironic considering Williams' songwriting partner Guy Chambers was a former member of that band.

The first airing of new material came in August 2000 with the release of Williams' third UK chart-topper, "Rock DJ", which was promoted by a controversial but award-winning video featuring the singer tearing lumps of flesh from his body. Sing When You're Winning proved beyond all doubt that Williams had won over the UK tabloids, music press and record buying public. Rarely has a dark horse enjoyed such a sweet victory. Of more dubious musical value was the Frank Sinatra -worshipping Swing When You're Winning, which included a beyond-the-grave duet with ole blue eyes himself on "It Was A Very Good Year" and an entertaining collaboration with actress Nicole Kidman on "Somethin' Stupid".

His latest album - Escapology - is a study of freeing himself from constraints. The album tracks demonstrate just how much Robbie has matured both as a songwriter and vocalist, while the colourful cover artwork illustrates that he’s still the unpredictable and exciting risk-taking Robbie he always was.

(Thanx to WWW.MTV.COM)