Five (stylised as 5ive) are an English boy band consisting of members Sean Conlon, Abz Love, Ritchie Neville, and Scott Robinson. They were formed in 1997 by the same team that managed the Spice Girls before they launched their career. The band were mostly known as a five-piece, consisting of Robinson, Neville, Love, Conlon and Jason "J" Brown. Five enjoyed remarkable success worldwide, particularly in the United Kingdom, most of Europe, and Asia. They split up on 27 September 2001 after selling 20 million records worldwide.
Robinson, Love, Neville, and Brown briefly reformed the group without Conlon in September 2006, with a new management team headed by music manager Richard Beck. Eight months later, having secured a lucrative tour but failing to gain enough record company interest, Five made an announcement via their official website that they would again disband.
In 2012, the band announced that they were planning another reunion, this time with Conlon on board. Brown initially agreed to take part in the reunion, but later changed his mind, claiming that he no longer wanted to be in the public eye. The group have continued with only four members, but decided to keep the name, Five. Alongside Blue, 911, Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, Honeyz and Liberty X, Five are featured in the ITV2 documentary series The Big Reunion, which began airing on 31 January 2013. This was followed by a comeback performance at the Hammersmith Apollo on 26 February 2013 and an arena tour around the UK and Ireland in May, which was their first ever tour without Brown. In November and December 2013, Five headlined their own tour, the 5ive Greatest Hits Tour, their first solo tour as a four-piece.
In 1997, an advertisement was placed in the UK performing arts newspaper The Stage, asking for young male singers/dancers to audition for a boy band-style group with "attitude and edge". Bob and Chris Herbert, the two men who had earlier created the Spice Girls, thought the time was right for a male group. Over 3,000 hopefuls auditioned, including Russell Brand, and they were finally narrowed down to only 14, five of whom had arranged themselves into a group while waiting for their audition.
The auditions resulted in a provisional casting of eight members: Richard "Abs" Breen (now Abz Love), Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson, Sean Conlon, Jason "J" Brown, and stand-by members Peter Montpellier, Paul Taylor and Ric Hershon. Because his first name was Richard, Breen changed his nickname to 'Abs' (from his middle name, "Abidin") to avoid confusion with Neville (born Richard Neville Dobson). Montpellier and Taylor were later cut when the final five were chosen in September 1997 and Hershon couldn't attend the final selection.
The band subsequently were signed by Simon Cowell and BMG/RCA for a six-album deal. Five practiced and demoed their work at Trinity Studios in Knaphill - the same place the Spice Girls did a few years previously.
In November 1997, Five released their debut single "Slam Dunk (Da Funk)", which debuted at number 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was also released in the U.S. in 1998 but had little chart success, although it was chosen as the NBA's new theme song. In 1998, Five earned their first major international hit, "When the Lights Go Out", which cracked the U.S. top 10 and earned Gold status there soon after. Five then went on an eight-day tour to promote their upcoming album, appearing in a concert special for the Disney Channel with Irish girl group B*Witched, in Times Square in New York City and on MTV's TRL. The debut album 5ive peaked at number 27 in the U.S. Billboard 200 and topped the charts in other countries worldwide, including the UK. "It's The Things You Do" was released in late 1998 in the U.S., only to receive a lukewarm reception. The group embarked upon a U.S. tour with 'N Sync, but soon after pulled out due to exhaustion, flying back to England to rest and start work on a new album. Still from the first album, "Got the Feelin'", "Everybody Get Up", and "Until the Time Is Through" were all released as singles in the UK throughout 1998.
Five reached the top 5 in several countries around the world, and the latter two singles each rose to the number two spot in the UK. A significant element in Five's popularity was their resemblance to American boy bands such as New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync in their uptempo musical style and 'street' image, in contrast to Take That, 98 Degrees, and Boyzone, who at the time were primarily known for their ballads. Five also wrote or co-wrote almost all of their own albums, something boy bands had never done much until then. According to Cowell, Five almost broke the US. Unfortunately they made some bad decisions. When Cowell heard "...Baby One More Time", he wanted Five to have it, but writer Max Martin had given it to Britney Spears. Five were later offered "Bye Bye Bye", but upon hearing the song, they turned it down and dissed it. "Then they went out to Sweden a few weeks later to record a song which they famously turned down, called "Bye Bye Bye." And it really was bye bye bye after that. That would have been the record that broke them. I would have broken that band," Cowell said.
1999-2000: Invincible and touring:
In August 1999, the first single of their second album, Invincible, the catchy dance tune "If Ya Gettin' Down", was released and became a major hit worldwide but yet again failed to go to number 1 in their home country, kept out of the top spot by Ricky Martin. Finally in October 1999, after three consecutive number-two peaks, "Keep on Movin'" became their first UK number 1, as well as their biggest selling single to date. The second album hit the top five shortly thereafter. "Don't Wanna Let You Go" was released in early March 2000, peaking at number 9. On 3 March 2000, Five opened at the BRIT Awards with rock legends Queen, performing an updated version of that band's hit, "We Will Rock You". That night Five won their first BRIT Award, as "Best Pop Act", and their cover of the Queen song went on to become their second number 1 in the UK in July 2000. The first half of 2000 found Five on a successful world tour, performing concerts in the UK, Europe, Russia, Australasia and--as a foursome--South America, after Neville contracted chickenpox and had to be flown back to England.
After finishing the tour, Five continued to perform at many concerts in the UK, including Party in the Park with Queen. A re-issue of Invincible included remixed versions of a couple of songs and five live tracks from their tour, as well as a bonus track, "Don't Fight It Baby". Due for release in July 2000 in the US, the song was pulled from release after the group was dropped by their stateside label, Arista Records. Five also had problems with their Asian record company, and subsequently cancelled their Asian tour.
2000-01: Kingsize, Conlon's departure, and split:
Suffering from this major blow, the lads headed back to the studio and started writing songs for their next album. They continued to win awards in the UK and Europe, and in December 2000 launched their second big tour, in their home country. In January 2001, Five went to perform at one of the biggest festivals in the world, "Rock in Rio" in Rio de Janeiro and Caracas, to an audience of almost 500,000 people.
In May 2001, after many months of creative writing and "developing their own personal sound", Kingsize was completed. When it was time to begin filming the video for their first single off the album, however, Sean was unable to appear as he was suffering from a mental breakdown from stress caused by being part of the group. This was not publicly revealed at the time and instead it was claimed he was ill from glandular fever. The "Let's Dance" video was released with a life-size cardboard cut-out standing in for the singer, and rumours that he had in fact left the band had to be quashed. Ritchie said in an interview several years later that the band's management kept Conlon's departure from the band a secret, so they were not aware that he had left when they filmed the "Let's Dance" video. Scott also temporarily left the band for a few weeks to be with his childhood sweetheart fiancée Kerry Oaker, who was having trouble with her pregnancy. Their son, Brennan Rhys, was born on 11 July 2001, five weeks premature. The remaining three members, J, Abs and Ritchie, pressed on with heavy promotion of the group's third album and the "Let's Dance" single. Whilst performing at a concert in Belgium in July, Ritchie tore the tendons in his left foot, putting a halt to all promotion and prompting the group to have a few meetings to re-think their options and future. "Let's Dance" was released in mid August 2001, however, and became their third UK number one, holding the top spot for two weeks. Kingsize debuted two weeks later at number three, and went on to achieve Gold status.
After a month of serious meetings with record management, Five came to the decision that they were "calling it a day", and the group disbanded on 27 September 2001, via an announcement on MTV Select. The following day, Scott married Kerry at a ceremony with all of his former bandmates in attendance.
In November 2001, "Closer to Me", featuring rare footage of the band, and "Rock the Party", with an animated video, were released as a double-A-side single. A Greatest Hits album followed.
In the band's short life-span, they experienced success around the world, racking up three number-one singles in the UK and selling an estimate of 15-20 million records worldwide, including 7 million albums worldwide and 2 million in the United States, and picking up numerous awards along the way.
2006-07: Unsuccessful first reunion:
On 17 September 2006, an announcement was made via Five's official Myspace page that a press conference was to be held at The Scala in central London on 27 September. After a venue change due to a shooting at The Scala, the conference was moved to the Bar Academy Islington. It was rumoured that four of the five members would be reuniting (Conlon now being committed to his Sony deal), and this was confirmed at the press conference. Five recorded new material for what was to be their fourth studio album, working with Guy Chambers, Swedish producer/songwriter Anders Bagge, and French DJs Trak Invaders. They also planned to tour in 2007. By January 2007, Five had completed half of their album and were looking to be signed to a record label with new manager, Richard Beck, who also secured an MTV documentary series titled Five - The Revive. The album was expected to be released within the next few months. On 8 March 2007, at midnight, Five premiered one-minute clips of three brand new songs that were to have been on the new album. The songs, titled "70 Days", "Settle Down" and "It's All Good" can be heard on the band's official website and also on their Myspace page.
On 19 May 2007, only eight months after reforming and having failed to secure a lucrative enough record deal, 5ive announced via their website that they would no longer be pursuing a comeback. Between 2010 and 2012, Scott and Abz did gigs up and down the UK, performing music from Five's catalogue.
2012-present: The Big Reunion and second reunion:
After appearing on The Voice UK on 24 March 2012 and failing to make it past the audition stage, Sean reunited with his former bandmates to discuss the possibility of a second reunion.
On 19 April 2012, J wrote a post on a Five fansite Warrington Warrior, saying that he had decided not to be a part of the reunion, claiming that he no longer wants to be in the public eye, and that he would like the fansite to be shut down, as he felt it was an intrusion to his private life. Sean, Ritchie, Abz and Scott confirmed the next day on Twitter that the post was indeed from J, and that they had received a letter with similar content from him. They apologised and gave a statement that Brown's personal opinion in no way represents Five as a band. The forum thread containing J's message has since been deleted, as per Scott's and their manager's request. The other members then stated that they would continue as a four-piece, with plans for a new tour and new material.
On 18 October 2012, Scott tweeted that Five would be taking part in an ITV2 documentary series called The Big Reunion, which would air some time in 2013, The show also featured the reunion of Atomic Kitten, 911, B*Witched, Liberty X and Honeyz.The Big Reunion features the six bands reuniting for the first time in a decade and undergoing two weeks of intense rehearsals before stepping out on stage for a comeback performance at the Hammersmith Apollo. The first episode of the show, which aired on 31 January 2013, featured Scott, Abz, Ritchie and Sean talking about their time together and the difficulties that came with being in a band. Scott commented: "I was annoyed with J when he said he didn't want to be a part of this. I was really angry because I've personally myself been trying to get this band back together for years and years and someone's let it down. He will be missed."
In January 2013, it was reported that the group were looking to find a new member to replace J, and they were also having disagreement over the group's name. The fourth episode of The Big Reunion featured Five auditioning three hopefuls to become the new fifth member of the band, though plans for a fifth member have now been dropped and Five decided to continue as a four-piece. At the Hammersmith Apollo concert on 26 February 2013, they were joined by last-minute additions Blue.
On 30 April 2013, it was confirmed that Five are to headline their own "Greatest Hits Tour" in November and December 2013. It was also announced that they would be doing some shows in Australia. They performed at V Festival in Weston Park and Chelmsford in August 2013.
The Big Reunion: On Tour, an additional mini-series featuring the bands as they embarked on their arena tour, aired on ITV2 on 5 September 2013. Brown also returned to hit back at accusations made by his bandmates. He acknowledged his behaviour could have been seen as loud and overbearing, but he denied bullying Sean Conlon. During a meet with Abz Love, Brown explained he has moved on and that he does not feel comfortable returning to Five.
On 16 September 2013, the band picked up the award for Best Music Act (On a Reality TV Show) at the National Reality TV Awards.
In June 2014, Five will support McBusted on four dates of their McBusted Tour.
Abz Love, (1997-2001, 2006-2007, 2012-present)
Ritchie Neville, (1997-2001, 2006-2007, 2012-present)
Scott Robinson, (1997-2001, 2006-2007, 2012-present)
Sean Conlon, (1997-2001, 2012-present)
J Brown, (1997-2001, 2006-2007)
Note: those in bold are current members.