Watching his former bandmate Robbie Williams conquer the world should have filled Gary Barlow with brotherly pride - instead, their intense rivalry meant he was consumed by feelings of shame and worthlessness that rocked his mental health for years to come.
Opening up about his three-decade career, the 52-year-old admits that Robbie’s exit from Take That, the band’s split, and his rocky attempt to go solo left him in a vulnerable place in the late-90s. “I remember thinking, ‘Who am I?
What do I really think? I’d lost all identity by that point,” he says. “I spent a year blaming myself, a year feeling sorry for myself.There was a shame thing going on with me, which was constantly being reminded by Robbie - who was King of the World at the time.” Meanwhile, Robbie’s music career was going from strength to strength with his albums dominating the charts - and the Angels singer couldn’t resist taking a pop at Gary any chance he got. “Sorry Gary, but I was always the talented member of the band,” he said when picking up a BRIT Award for Best Song. “Every time that happened, it would take me six months to get over another version of him saying something and everyone laughing,” Gary says. “So I had some eating disorders along the way.
I battered myself.” Rebuilding his mental health took years for Gary. “I had to start from scratch. It was a very slow climb back,” he emotionally tells BBC Two’s Reel Stories. “I think in the modern day, a therapist would have undone it in about 12 months but it took me five years to eventually come out of it with some kind of light.” But today, the Take That boys - including Mark Owen and Howard Donald - can look back at the band’s journey with pride and a handful of laughs.Read more on ok.co.uk