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Mark Owen - Take That's pretty boy

With a sparkle in his eyes and a cute, cheeky grin, Mark Owen became known as the pretty boy of Take That.

His diminutive stature and butter-wouldn't-melt baby face only added to his appeal as young fans pinned his Smash Hits posters to their walls - and their mums wanted to mother him.

The Oldham-born singer turned to music after injury put paid to his early promise as a professional footballer, following trials with Rochdale, Huddersfield Town and Manchester United.

As a teenager he found work at Stockport's Strawberry Studios, which for many years had been owned and run by the chart band 10CC.

There he met young songwriter Gary Barlow who was recording at the studio and the pair started working together.

As Cutest Rush, they eventually approached manager Nigel Martin Smith who added dancers Jason Orange and Howard Donald to the line-up. Robbie Williams completed the group after passing an audition.

After a slow build, and relentless club tours, they hit the big time in 1993 with their first number one, Pray.

Huge success followed as the five-piece dominated the charts with string of big-selling hits - a clean-cut alternative to the other emerging musical force, bad boys Oasis.

They survived the departure of Robbie Williams in 1995 - who left after hanging out with the Gallagher brothers in a lost weekend at Glastonbury.

But by the following year they decided to call it a day, winding up their run of eight number ones in the 1990s with How Deep Is Your Love.

Like Barlow, Owen launched a solo career which showed initial promise with two top three hits, Child and Clementine.

But his next single barely scraped the top 30, disappearing without trace after just one week. He was soon dropped by his label.

He largely disappeared from the limelight - apart from a stint presenting a TV series about Euro 2000 - living in the Lake District and being involved in two lengthy relationships, until he had a second surge of fame after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

During the 2002 series he was seen taking part in dance routines wearing satin shorts, leg warmers and a cut-off sweater for a 1980s-inspired party.

It led to more chart success with his single Four Minute Warning, but it was the reunion of Take That in 2005 which was his real return to fame and fortune.

Their tour was a sell-out and the band struck gold almost immediately with comeback single Patience hitting number one, showing there was a thirst for new material rather than just a chance for old fans to wallow in nostalgia. Owen's voice came to the fore for follow-up Shine, which similarly topped the charts.

Each of the band's projects in recent years - a live DVD, arena tours, two studio albums - has been greeted with huge enthusiasm.

A high profile New Year's Eve show at the 02 Arena in 2007 was even broadcast live on ITV1.

Owen, 38, married in Scotland in November last year after dating his partner Emma Ferguson for five years.

The group went with him on a stag weekend to New York which saw them hanging out with Robbie Williams - who is expected to work with the band again in the future.

The wedding took place at Cawdor Church in Inverness, with his bandmate guests later enjoying a reception at Cawdor Castle.


Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph