Robbie Williams 'gutted' by R1 snub

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

image captionWilliams recently completed a European summer stadium tour

Pop star Robbie Williams says he is "gutted" that BBC Radio 1 no longer plays his records.

"I'm very ambitious," he told BBC Radio 4's Mastertapes programme. "So when Radio 1 goes and is taken away from you, a huge bit of your arsenal goes."

"It's your main oxygen to get your stuff out there."

Radio 1 failed to put Williams' number one single Candy on their playlist last year, but his recent collaboration with Dizzee Rascal did make it on the air.

The star's new swing album, Swings Both Ways, is unlikely to be a fixture on the station.

Radio 1's breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw previously said Williams, 39, was "not relevant" to his target audience of 15-29 year olds.

"I liked Take That when I was little, but I'm not little anymore," he told Five news.

"I don't know if he's now for a Radio 1 audience."

The station's music policy chief Nigel Harding has also said rock groups Green Day and Muse may have outgrown the station.

"The last Green Day project simply wasn't good enough," he told trade magazine Music Week.

Muse, meanwhile "are approaching a crossroads" - their last single was the first one not playlisted by Radio 1 in a decade.

"The door remains open to them but we'll have to think carefully about their next album."


image captionWilliams was speaking to Radio 4's John Wilson

Speaking to John Wilson, Williams admitted he was jealous of the younger pop stars who are guaranteed airplay, including One Direction's Harry Styles.

"He's talented, he's good looking. He could have it away," said Williams.

"And I'll be sat here saying 'damn him'.

But, he continued, "everybody who's anybody has been competitive and over-sensitive and a bit silly".

"Look at Paul McCartney, look at Elton John. They're jealous of Justin Timberlake. I'm sure they were jealous of me when I was in my imperial phase."

The Mastertapes series looks at a classic album in depth - in this instance Life Thru A Lens, Williams' debut record.

Released in 1997, the album featured the hit singles Angels and Let Me Entertain You.

In the wide-ranging interview, he discussed how the album was recorded in the depths of the alcohol-fuelled depression that followed his exit from Take That.

Co-writer Guy Chambers recalled how Williams was often "too drunk to make it" to recording sessions.

"We were often trying to get him to do the vocal for Angels," he said. "That went on for weeks."

Williams also revealed that he could no longer take to the stage without a lyric sheet, after forgetting the words to Angels on a live edition of The X Factor in 2009.

"It caused a chink in the armour," he admitted.

The third series of Mastertapes will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November.

Other guests include David Crosby, discussing his solo debut If I Could Only Remember My Name, and Soul II Soul, on 1989's influential Club Classics Vol 1.

Edwyn Collins and Natalie Merchant also take part.

Recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale studios, each artist also plays live tracks from the album under discussion.

Mastertapes: Robbie Williams A-Side will be broadcast on Monday, 11 November at 23:00, the B-Side programme will follow on 12 November at 15:30.

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