Robert Peter Williams (born February 13, 1974 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) is a British pop singer. Originally a member of boy band Take That, he split from the group in 1995 and launched a solo career, following a highly publicized battle with drug and alcohol addiction during which he put on nearly 40 pounds (18 kg) and was often seen in public poorly dressed, dirty and unshaven.
In 1996 he released his first solo single "Freedom", a cover of the 1990 George Michael hit. Though this was a sucess it was not until the release of the single "Angels" that his solo career took off in Europe. Although it reached number one in many countries, it only managed to get to number four in the official UK singles chart in December 1997 – he would have to wait until September 19, 1998 for his first number one with "Millennium". He quickly became a major celebrity in the UK with numerous top ten singles.
He broke the United States in 2000 with his hit song "Rock DJ". The video featured Williams in a roller-disco as he stripped nude and then proceeded to strip off his own flesh, muscle tissue and organs until he was a dancing skeleton. It is said that the frontal nudity was edited out in the US while the gore was left in, whereas the opposite was true for the UK). The video's ending was cut by many TV stations around the world and the whole video was forbidden in some countries (VH1 Europe even made their own video out of recording studio footage). Williams has built quite a reputation for appearing nude (or nearly nude) in photographs, videos and live performances.
His United States and global success was cemented after a duet cover version of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra song "Somethin' Stupid" with Australian actress Nicole Kidman, who was fresh off of her Oscar-nomnated performance in Moulin Rouge. In 2002 he released an album called Swing When You're Winning in which his image was tamed down and he sang jazz, blues and pop standards from the fifties.
His next album Escapology was released in late 2002. The first single from it, "Feel", had big success arround Europe. The video for the next single, "Come Undone", featured Williams having sex at a party (actually with his pants on), and also images of insects and reptiles. Therefore a censored version was released that MTV Networks Europe chose to edit a little more and to play it only to the half.
He toured Australia and New Zealand in December of 2003 with Duran Duran and performed the title song for the movie Johnny English. An official biography, "Feel", has become an instant bestseller in the UK since its publication in September 2004. Williams currently lives in Los Angeles.
His Greatest Hits album was released on 18th October, 2004. The first new single to be taken from the album was called "Radio", which went straight to number one, selling just over 40,000 copies in the first week. The other new track on the album is called "Misunderstood" and is due for release in December 2004.
- Life Thru a Lens (1997); #1 UK
- I've Been Expecting You (1998 (UK) / 2002 (US)); #1 UK
- The Ego Has Landed (1999); #63 US (North America only release)
- Sing When You're Winning (2000); #1 UK, #110 US
- Swing When You're Winning (2001); #1 UK
- Escapology (2003); #1 UK, #43 US
- Robbie Williams – Live At Knebworth (2003); #2 UK
- Greatest Hits (2004); #1 UK
UK hit singles
- Aug 1996 "Freedom" #2
- Apr 1997 "Old Before I Die" #2
- Jul 1997 "Lazy Days" #8
- Sep 1997 "South of the Border" #14
- Dec 1997 "Angels" #4
- Mar 1998 "Let Me Entertain You" #3
- Sep 1998 "Millennium" #1
- Dec 1998 "No Regrets/Antmusic" #4
- Mar 1999 "Strong" #4
- Nov 1999 "She's The One/It's Only Us" #1
- Aug 2000 "Rock DJ" #1
- Oct 2000 "Kids" (with Kylie Minogue) #2
- Dec 2000 "Supreme" #4
- Apr 2001 "Let Love Be Your Energy" #10
- Jul 2001 "Eternity/Road to Mandalay" #1
- Dec 2001 "Somethin' Stupid" (with Nicole Kidman) #1
- Apr 2002 "My Culture" (1 Giant Leap feat. Maxi Jazz & Robbie Williams) #9
- Dec 2002 "Feel" #4
- Apr 2003 "Come Undone" #4
- Aug 2003 "Something Beautiful" #3
- Nov 2003 "Sexed Up" #10
- Oct 2004 "Radio" #1
The highest position in the US charts was #41 for "Angels".