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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Lindsay Calder

Music stars who found fame on TV before YouTube - including Britney Spears and Coldplay

Once the Beatles made their TV debut performing first single Love Me Do, they were heading in only one direction – to the top.

The record was not an instant hit on release so the band’s manager Brian Epstein persuaded Granada Television to let them play live on an evening regional show.

After their slot on People and Places 60 years ago, the Moptops drove from the Manchester studio to a gig at Liverpool ’s Cavern Club. The midweek TV performance helped Love Me Do reach number 17 in the UK charts. It later went to number one in America.

The Beatles are now the best-selling band in history, with a record 15 number-one albums in the UK and the most singles sold by any artist too – 21.9 million. So it’s unsurprising that bands in the 60s and 70s were keen to get on TV to kickstart their careers.

The Beatles in the early 1960s at a Granada TV studio in Manchester (Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Before instant access to new music from Spotify and YouTube, TV, local clubs and music festivals were where new talent was launched. To be picked up by record labels, you had to be seen as well as heard.

Agent Jane Miller says: “Appearing on TV, instead of only radio, a band reaches a huge audience. People see how they look, in terms of their image, and perform. It gives a feeling of how it will be if you wanted to see them live.”

The Beatles' Paul McCartney plays at the 2022 Glastonbury Festival (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Here are some of the older, and not quite so old, performers who got their break through the telly…

Justin Timberlake, 1992

He appeared as Justin Randall (his middle name) on US TV Talent show Star Search.

The future heart-throb, who was just 11-years-old and decked out in country and western gear, including an oversized stetson hat, sang Alan Jackson’s Love’s Got A Hold On You. He didn’t win but it did him no harm.

An 11-year-old Justin Timberlake sings on Star Search in 1992 (

In his autobiography, Justin says without that performance he would not have appeared on the TV show Mickey Mouse Club, which is where he was chosen for the boyband NSync.

The star, now 41, went on to win 10 Grammys from 39 nominations and became an accomplished actor.

Pop star and actor Justin Timberlake performs in LA this year (Getty Images for Children's Hosp)

Spice Girls, 1996

The Spice Girls appeared on ITV ’s GMTV, performing Wannabe on London’s cloudy South Bank.

Despite complaining it was “chilly”, Ginger, Sporty and Scary wore cropped tops as they sprang into action to sing on that June morning.

The Spice Girls sing Wannabe in their TV appearance, in 1996 (YouTube)

Jane says: “It showcased their fun image – you’ve got a girlband, all attractive girls. Kids loved the Spice Girls and so did adults.”

Their debut Spice became the biggest-selling album by a female group.

Spice Girls Mel B, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell and Melanie C on stage in Dublin in 2019 (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Oasis, 1994

Oasis were virtually unknown outside of Manchester when they recorded a live performance of their first single Supersonic at Teddington Studios for Channel 4 ’s The Word.

Jane says: “In the 1990s Friday night viewing had to be The Word. – however good or bad it was. Before that it was only really Top of the Pops.”

Oasis playing Supersonic during their 1994 TV debut (YouTube)

The Word host Terry Christian later said of the performance: “Since Oasis made their first TV everyone has tried to take the credit — when, of course, it was really all down to me, me, me.”

The band went on to huge success with hit albums Definitively Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

The first Oasis TV appearance on Channel 4's The Word (YouTube)

Ed Sheeran, 2011

The star, 31, who has now sold more than 150 million records worldwide, played over 300 gigs in 2009 before he found fame.

Ed Sheeran on Jools Holland's show in 2011 (YouTube)

In April 2011, aged 19, he performed on BBC2’s Later… With Jools Holland, where he performed his debut single The A Team. He tweeted his appearance was “a dream come true”.

Ed Sheeran at Radio 1's Big Weekend this year (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Rolling Stones, 1963

A year after the Beatles’ TV debut, the Rolling Stones appeared on ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars. They mimed to their single Come On – a cover version of a Chuck Berry hit – on what looked like a Wild West set.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were all wearing dogtooth-check jackets and knitted ties that their manager had chosen to smarten them up for TV.

An early Rolling Stones TV appearance (CBS via Getty Images)
The Stones on stage in Stockholm this year (Eklund Robert/Stella Pictures/ABACA/REX/Shutterstock)

The single made the charts a few weeks later and they then began to write their own singles which propelled the band to worldwide fame.

This year the Stones, now with only Mick and Keith remaining from the original line-up (Ronnie Wood joined them in 1975), celebrated their 60-year career with a European tour.

Queen, 1974

Top Of The Pops had to fill an empty slot when footage of David Bowie singing Rebel Rebel failed to turn up.

Someone suggested a young, relatively unknown band called Queen.

Queen on Top of the Pops in 1974 (YouTube)

They played Seven Seas Of Rhye.

Soon after it became a hit peaking at number 10.

Queen singer Freddie Mercury (YouTube)

Britney Spears, 1992

Like Usher and her future boyfriend Justin Timberlake, Britney appeared on Star Search.

At just 10, the tiny singer, wearing a white tutu-style dress and white tights, performed Love Can Build A Bridge. She didn’t win the junior vocalist category, but that was no set-back.

10-year-old Britney Spears on TV in 1992 (YouTube)

Britney, now 40, would become a pop icon, selling over 100 million records.

She also overcame personal problems and this year wed for a third time.

A Britney Spears show in London in 2018 (Getty Images for BCU)

Take That, 1990

Take That’s first live TV performance was on ITV’s The Hitman And Her, hosted by Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan from UK nightclubs.

Robbie Williams was 16 when the band sang My Kind Of Girl at Manchester’s Discotheque Royale, dressed in matching red bomber jackets.

Take That's first TV gig in 1990 (YouTube)

Jane says: “If a new artist is starting to break through in a certain area – like Take That in Manchester – then a TV appearance means reaching a much wider audience.”

Take That's The Hitman and Her performance (YouTube)

Usher, 1991

Usher Raymond appeared on US TV talent show Star Search when he was just 13.

Usher aged 13 on Star Search in 1991 (YouTube)

His youthful performance paid off big time as he was spotted by a record label representative, leading to a deal.

Usher, now 44, has won eight Grammys from 22 nominations.

Usher wins a Grammy Award in 2003 (Reuters)

Coldplay, 2000

Coldplay made their TV debut with performances of Yellow and Shiver on BBC2’s Later… With Jools Holland.

Coldplay's 2000 TV debut on Jools Holland's show (YouTube)

Frontman Chris Martin, now 45, said he messed up the introduction of Yellow because he was nervous in front of fellow guest Gary Brooker, founder of the band Procol Harum, who co-wrote the classic A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Coldplay have since sold 100 million albums.

A Coldplay gig in Glasgow this year (Getty Images)

Beyonce, 1993

Another Star Search contestant, Beyonce Knowles was introduced as a part of the “hip-hop rapping” group Girl’s Tyme.

Beyonce on TV with Girl's Tyme in 1993 (YouTube)

They didn’t make it to a second episode, but she and Kelly Rowland eventually became part of the new band Destiny’s Child.

Including her time in Destiny’s Child and music with husband Jay-Z, Bey, 41, has 28 Grammy wins from 79 nominations.

Superstar Beyonce on stage in California in 2009 (Getty Images)

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