Name: Gary Barlow
Best known for: Being in Take That, writing numerous smash hit singles and a stint filling in for Mr Nasty on the X Factor judging panel.
Bio: Singer-songwriter Barlow was born and raised in Cheshire, where he fell in love with music at an early age. He began entering songwriting competitions at the age of 15, before going on to perform on the club circuit and get himself a manager.
Casting agent Nigel Martin Smith was rather impressed with his musical skills and selected Barlow as the man to build a boyband around. He introduced him to Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams – the men who would ultimately make up Take That.
The band went on to enjoy worldwide success, racking up a number of top 40 hits before hitting the number one spot with Barlow’s self-penned Pray. The song earned him the first of six Ivor Novello awards and secured his reputation as the creative backbone of the group.
Take That’s split hit Barlow hard, and, despite a strong start, his attempts to launch a successful solo career faltered. His first album, Open Road, reached number one in the UK charts, but the follow up struggled to achieve the same heights.
But Barlow continued to enjoy success as a songwriter and producer before getting the gang back together (minus Williams) in 2005. Hits like Patience, Rule The World, Shine (which should definitely be the Let It Shine theme tune) and Greatest Day soon followed, with the majority peaking at number one in the charts.
His most recent solo work hit the top spot too, and he even teamed up with Andrew Lloyd-Webber to write the official track for the Diamond Jubilee. Sing was a rather moving piece of music, recorded with the Military Wives choir and Commonwealth Band.
It was just one of Barlow’s contributions to the celebrations. as The Queen asked him to organise her 86th birthday concert too. Her Majesty was most impressed with his extensive charity work, bestowing Barlow with an OBE for his services to music and charity during her 2012 Birthday Honours.
And of course, he spent three years on the X Factor judging panel between 2011 and 2013, taking Simon Cowell’s vacated seat.
Most recently he’s been focusing on work in the musical theatre world. He wrote the musical score for a stage version of Finding Neverland and has co-written a musical with his friend, Tim Firth. The Girls opens at the Phoenix Theatre, London in January 2017.