The Spice Girls are an English pop girl group formed in 1994. The group originally consisted of Melanie Brown (“Scary Spice”), Melanie Chisholm (“Sporty Spice”), Emma Bunton (“Baby Spice”), Geri Halliwell (“Ginger Spice”), and Victoria Beckham, née Adams (“Posh Spice”). They were signed to Virgin Records and released their debut single “Wannabe” in 1996, which hit number one in 37 countries and established them as a global phenomenon.
Let’s see some facts about them!
1. In the mid-1990s, family management team Bob Herbert and Chris Herbert of Heart Management decided to create a girl group to compete with popular boy bands, such as Take That and East 17, which dominated the pop music scene at the time.
2. In February 1994, together with financier Chic Murphy, they placed an advertisement in the trade magazine The Stage asking for singers to audition for an all-female pop band at Danceworks studios.
3. Approximately 400 women attended the audition, during which they were placed in groups of ten and danced a routine to “Stay” by Eternal, followed by solo auditions in which they were asked to perform songs of their own choosing.
4. After several weeks of deliberation, Victoria Adams, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Michelle Stephenson were among twelve women chosen to a second round of auditions in April; Geri Halliwell also attended the second audition, despite missing the first one due to work.
5. A week after the second audition, the women were asked to attend a recall at Nomis Studios in Shepherds Bush, performing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” on their own and in a group.
6. During the session, Adams, Brown, Chisholm, Halliwell and Stephenson were selected to the band, initially named Touch.
7. The group moved to a house in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and spent most of 1994 training. During the first two months, they worked on demos at South Hill Park Recording Studios in Bracknell with producer/studio owner Michael Sparkes and songwriter/arranger Tim Hawes.
8. According to Stephenson, the material the group was given was “very, very young pop”, one of the songs they recorded, “Sugar and Spice”, would be the source of their final band name.
9. They also worked on various dance routines at the Trinity Studios in Knaphill, near Woking, Surrey. During the training period, Stephenson was fired from the group and replaced with Emma Bunton, who came up with the band name Spice.
10. The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and was frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them.
11. In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, they began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994 at the Nomis Studios, where they received an “overwhelmingly positive” reaction.
12. Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for them. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Nomis showcase, all five members delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, among others, Adams’s father.
13. In March 1995, the group parted from Heart Management due to their frustration with the company’s unwillingness to listen to their visions and ideas. To ensure they kept control of their own work, they allegedly stole the master recordings of their discography from the management offices.
14. That same day, the group tracked down Sheffield-based producer Eliot Kennedy, who had been present at the showcase, and persuaded him to work with them. They were introduced to record producers Absolute, who in turn brought them to the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment, who signed them to his company in March 1995.
15. During the summer of that year, the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller, signing a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. Their name was changed to Spice Girls, as a rapper was already using the name “Spice”.
16. From this point on until the summer of 1996, the group continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of the United States, where they signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific.
17. Their debut album Spice sold more than 31 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling album by a female group in history. Their follow-up album Spiceworld sold over 20 million copies worldwide
18. The Spice Girls have sold over 80 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling female group of all time, one of the best-selling pop groups of all time, and the biggest British pop phenomenon since Beatlemania.
19. Among the highest profile acts in 1990s British popular culture, Time called them “arguably the most recognisable face” of Cool Britannia, the mid-1990s celebration of youth culture in the UK.
20. Measures of their success include international record sales, a 2007–2008 reunion tour, merchandising, record-breaking achievements, iconic symbolism such as Halliwell’s Union Jack dress representing “girl power”, and a film, Spice World.
21. The group became one of the most successful marketing engines ever, earning up to $75 million per year, with their global grosses estimated at $500–800 million between 1996 and 1998.
22. Under the guidance of their mentor and manager Simon Fuller, the Spice Girls embraced merchandising and became a regular feature of the British and global press.
23. In 1996, Top of the Pops magazine gave each member of the group aliases, which were adopted by the group and media.
24. According to Rolling Stone journalist and biographer David Sinclair, “Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty were the most widely recognised group of individuals since John, Paul, George, and Ringo”.
25. With the “girl power” phenomenon, the Spice Girls were popular cultural icons of the 1990s. They are cited as part of the ‘second wave’ 1990s British Invasion of the US.
26. In 2016, Mel B, Emma Bunton and Geri Halliwell reunited and launched a new website called “Spice Girls – GEM”.
27. Mel B, Victoria, Geri, and Mel C became members of the Spice Girls after they responded to a casting call for a girl group in a magazine in March 1993.
28. It read, “R.U. 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance. R.U. streetwise, outgoing, ambitious and dedicated?”
29. Mel B’s audition song was Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All”.
30. Victoria’s was “Mein Herr” from Cabaret, because she had a musical theatre background.
31. Mel C sang “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters.
32. And Geri missed the audition because she was visiting her grandmother in Spain. She rung the casting agent a couple of months later to see if they were still looking for someone and arranged a late audition.
33. But Michelle left because of a family illness and the fact that she wanted to go to college. She was replaced by Emma Bunton, who Victoria already knew.
34. Emma had attended stage school since the age of 11.
35. The group’s managers at the time provided them with songs and similar outfits, and tried to tie the group down to a contract they felt was unacceptable.
36. They ended up paying off those managers because they didn’t feel they were the right fit. They had to take out a loan to do so.
37. Their names (Posh, Baby, Sporty, Ginger, and Scary) were thought up by a features writer at Top of the Pops magazine. Once the names were printed, they stuck.
“Wannabe”, the group’s debut single, was written in 20 minutes.
38. The band asked Tony Blair to be in the music video for “Wannabe”. Sadly, he refused.
39. The first thing Emma bought with the money she made from the band was a house with a garden for her mum, because she’d grown up in a flat.
40. The first things Mel C bought were a house for her mum and a car for her brother.
41. Similarly, Victoria bought a house for her sister and her boyfriend.
42. Meanwhile, Geri got a second-hand red convertible car.
43. Both Geri and Mel C have spoken about suffering from eating disorders at the height of their fame.
44. And Mel C has spoken about suffering from depression during her time in the band.
45. At one point, Victoria’s mum called Simon Fuller and told him the group needed a break.
46. The group ended up sacking Simon Fuller after the 1997 MTV Music Awards, opting to regain artistic control of their own group.
47. The day they left Simon Fuller’s label, the group shoved all of their stuff in bin bags, stuffed them into Geri’s car boot, and did a runner.
48. Nelson Mandela is a man most definitely worthy of the word hero, and it appears he believed the Spice Girls to be heroes of music, as he once said: “These are my heroes. This is one of the greatest moments in my life”.
49. Beyonce once covered a Victoria Beckham Song. No, we’re serious. She really did. She recorded Posh Spice’s Resentment for her 2006 album B’Day.
50. Geri told the other women that she was leaving the band as they got off a private jet from Oslo. Her departing words were, “I’m gonna say bye now, girls.”
51. Because the other women didn’t believe she’d actually left, they pretended she was sick for their first TV appearance without her.
52. Geri later said she had wanted to do an appearance for a breast cancer charity she felt close to, and the other girls wouldn’t let her, contributing to her decision to quit the band. She said it was the final straw.
53. The rest of the band took a week off after Geri left.
54. Although the band stayed together, Mel C recorded the third album separately to the rest of the group because she was recording her solo material.
55. Mel B and Victoria both found out they were pregnant on their final tour of America. Years after the band split, Victoria, Emma, Mel C, and Geri got talking about embarking on a reunion tour at Geri’s daughter Bluebell’s christening.
56. Once they got Mel B on board, the only had a month to rehearse.
57. Mel B and Victoria’s first children are 13 days apart. Scary gave birth to daughter Phoenix Chi less than two weeks before Posh welcomed son Brooklyn in 1999.
58. Victoria is the only member of the band who didn’t have a No. 1 hit in the UK as a solo artist. She did try a solo career and was working on a hip-hop album, of all things, after the group split. But then she was too busy being Mrs. David Beckham and designing clothes to bother with that anymore.