Backstage bickering tore Steps apart
From today’s News Of The World
Today, I lift the lid on the bitter backstage bickering and jealousy which led to Steps’ shock split. Distraught Faye Tozer — still reeling from the band’s break-up just days ago — has confided to me: “I’m numb and I feel betrayed.” She’s not the only one. Now that it’s all over for Steps I can exclusively reveal that Lee Latchford Evans has blasted “sulky” Claire Richards and H (aka Ian Watkins) for letting the rest of the band know they were quitting by handing out legal letters of resignation.
Furious Steps’ mastermind Pete Waterman says he’s been “kicked in the crotch” by the band. Stunned Lisa Scott-Lee claims Claire and H didn’t even bother to say “goodbye”. Faye revealed: “I just can’t believe it has happened. One minute we were about to go on stage and the next Claire and H had quit the band.” The break-up happened at the Manchester Evening News Arena on the Friday before Christmas.
Steps — who scored 13 consecutive top five hit singles including Stomp and Tragedy — were about to perform the last night of a sell-out 30-date tour, when Claire delivered her legal letters of resignation. I’m told H appeared to be bemused, while Faye, Lisa and Lee were all clearly stunned. “To say we were shocked is an understatement,” Lee later told pals. “There we were, about to go on stage, then Claire says she’s going to leave the band. Then within minutes, H tells us he’s going too, and gives us his letters. It was all very sudden.” Lisa, who is currently helping to launch a band called 3SL, featuring her three brothers, told a close friend: “After the show Claire and H just left. They didn’t say goodbye or anything. They just got changed and left. We haven’t heard from them since.”
While some members of the band denied speaking to the press at the time this article was published, the details here turned out to be true and were confirmed by the group in the 2011 documentary Steps Reunion. The actual date the letters were handed out was Friday 21 December 2001 – the penultimate night of the tour – not the final night as stated in the article.
Music industry insiders say one major reason for Claire’s departure is that she is set to sign a solo deal with Sony Records. A senior music executive told me: “Claire and Faye will have successful solo careers. Claire has already been approached and is set to sign in the new year. Faye is still working on material, so it won’t be long before you hear her stuff.”
A source who has been close to the band for the past five years told me this week: “It was just a matter of time. Claire was always moaning about wanting more vocals.” Another main reason for the split was H’s close relationship with the band’s manager, Tim Byrne. “H was always given preferential treatment, which didn’t go down well with the others.” News of the Steps split didn’t go down well with Pete Waterman either. The brains behind the band’s success and a judge on ITV’s Pop Idol told me: “It was like a kick in the crotch. These kids were disrespectful and went behind everyone’s back, which is outrageous.” Back in March, I predicted the band would break up by the end of the year—but all the plans of a friendly parting went out of the window as tensions rose.
In their official statement, the band said: “We have always said that when the time came we would leave as good friends.” But, as Lee reveals: “There was a lot of friction towards the end. It was always Claire and H on one side and us three on the other. “H would always throw a tantrum if he wasn’t getting things his way and Claire would just sulk. When things were bad they were really bad.”
While some members of the band denied speaking to the press at the time this article was published, the details here turned out to be fairly accurate and were largely reflected in the group’s interviews in the 2011 documentary Steps Reunion.