The STEPS Story
|'The STEPS Story' was published by Generation STEPS for a STEPS Interview CD. The text cannot be reproduced without our express permission.|
STEPS began in the spring of 1997. Five thousand applicants answered a small advert that appeared in "The Stage", to attend an open audition for a five-piece line-dancing pop group. The advert was looking for five young people who were exceptional in singing and dancing, and had bright personalities. Over a period of six months the entries were whittled down to just five; the five members who would become one of the biggest pop groups that the world has ever seen. Those fresh new faces were Lee Latchford Evans, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Ian 'H' Watkins.
All five members of the group had been out of work when they turned up for the auditions, which were being held in a small hut in Surrey. Before the auditions, Faye had been working at a holiday camp where her duties included bingo calling. H had been working at Butlins as a children’s entertainer, Lisa was touring the UK as a dancer, Lee was on the road to becoming a professional footballer and Claire was simply enjoying the free life.
STEPS' manager, Tim Byrne, already had a catchy song and a dance routine to match it. Now he had found five people who could help teach simple dance steps to the public, STEPS were born.
On the 7th November 1997 their first single '5, 6, 7, 8' was released. The single sent shockwaves through the country - although 5, 6, 7, 8 didn't enter the top 10, the single stayed in the UK top 40 for three month and went on to become the biggest selling single of the 90s not to enter the top 10. 5, 6, 7, 8 sold 290,000 copies in the United Kingdom and 500,000 worldwide. STEPS had achieved their first massive hit, and were soon signed to Jive Records, the home of the Backstreet Boys.
The management became increasingly excited about the project. In the pipeline were a string of linedancing songs - similar to 5, 6, 7, 8 - and each would have its own dance routine. However, the five young faces he needed for his group were not thrilled by the plans, and Faye was tempted to leave the group.
Luckily, the plans were changed when pop producer Pete Waterman (famous for the Stock-Aitken-Waterman collaborations) became involved in the project. He offered the group a track named 'Last Thing On My Mind' - a 'Bananarama' song which he had originally written. The track was released on the 17th April 1998 selling 330,000 copies and gave STEPS their first UK Top 10 hit, peaking at number six. People took notice. STEPS were not just a 'one hit wonder'.