Spice Girls: how did the Viva Forever girl group form and who were the original members?
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The Spice Girls are an English girl group consisting of Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell and formerly Victoria Beckham.
The group formed as Touch in 1994, and broke through into the music industry after the release of their debut single ‘Wannabe’ in July 1996 before changing their name.
So, here is everything you need to know about the formation of the Spice Girls and how they got their name…
How did the Spice Girls form?
In the early 1990s, the father-and-son duo of Heart Management, Bob and Chris Herbert, decided to create a girl group to compete with the boy bands who dominated UK pop music at the time.
Heart Management soon placed an advertisement in The Stage asking for singers to audition for an all-female pop band at London’s Danceworks studios on 4 March 1994.
Approximately 400 women attended the audition and were placed in groups of 10 and danced a routine to ‘Stay’ by Eternal, followed by solo auditions in which they performed songs of their choice.
Victoria Adams (now Beckham), Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Michelle Stephenson were among those to advance to a second round of auditions in April. However, Melanie C missed the second audition after coming down with tonsillitis.
Despite missing the first round of auditions, Geri Halliwell persuaded the Herberts to also let her attend the second round.
A week after the second audition, Victoria, Melanie B, Geri and Michelle were asked to attend a recall at Nomis Studios in Shepherd’s Bush. Melanie C was later invited as a last-minute replacement for another finalist.
The five women - Victoria Adams (now Beckham), Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Gerri Haliwell and Michelle Stephenson - were selected for the band, which was initially named Touch.
The group moved into a three-bedroom house in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and spent most of 1994 practising songs written for them by Bob Herbert’s long-time associates John Thirkell and Erwin Keiles.
A few months into the training, Michelle was fired for a perceived lack of commitment. She was replaced by Emma Bunton, who was a former pupil of the group’s vocal coach, Pepi Lemer.
During one of the group’s professional songwriting sessions, they wrote a song called "Sugar and Spice" with Tim Hawes, which inspired them to change their name to Spice.
Spice Girls’ switch from Heart Management to Virgin Records explained
By late 1994, the group felt insecure as they still did not have an official contract with Heart Management, and were frustrated with the management team’s direction.
After a showcase performance in front of industry writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994, where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction, Heart Management quickly set about creating a binding contract for them.
However, encouraged by the reaction they had received at the showcase, all five members refused to sign the contracts.
In January, the group began songwriting sessions with Richard Stannard, whom they had impressed at the showcase, and his partner Matt Rowe. During these sessions the hit songs ‘Wannabe’ and ‘2 Become 1’ were written.
In March 1995, the group left Heart Management, and tracked down the Sheffield-based songwriter Eliot Kennedy, who had been present at the showcase. They persuaded him to work with them and were also introduced to the Absolute production team.
With Eliot and Absolute’s help, the group spent the next several weeks writing and recording demos for the majority of the songs that would be released on their debut album.
Their demos caught the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment, who signed them to his management company in May 1995.
A few months later, after a bidding war, they signed a five-album deal with Virgin Records in July 1995.
Their name was then changed to the Spice Girls as a rapper was already using the name Spice. The new name was chosen as industry people often referred to them derisively as "the Spice girls".