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The Early Years

Now that STEPS were being taken seriously, plans were laid for the group to release an album. Waterman said that he would "make sure the kids get a good deal - just like the good old days - by rediscovering classic pop music".

STEPS lie on the lawn in a publicity photo for One For Sorrow STEPS became hugely popular

When the album was ready for release, STEPS unleashed their third UK Single, 'One For Sorrow', on the 31st August 1998. 363,000 copies were sold, and STEPS were catapulted into A-list stardom. 'One For Sorrow' entered the UK charts at number two, narrowly being beaten by the Manic Street Preachers, and stayed in the top 10 for long enough to give their debut album a boost. 'Step One' was released on 11th September 1998 and smashed into the UK Album chart at number two. Although STEPS were again beaten to the number one spot by the Manic Street Preachers, 'Step One' received fantastic reviews by most music magazines. The album has sold more than 2.4 million copies in the UK!

By Christmas 1998, STEPS had built a huge following of fans, and released a Christmas single on the 6th November 1998. 'Heartbeat / Tragedy' featured a cover of the Bee Gees' 'Tragedy' and a brand new ballad written by Jackie James. The single entered the UKs Top 10 at number two, and after three weeks looked set to leave the Top 10 before the Christmas Chart was announced. However, a sudden increase in sales meant that STEPS managed to stay in the Top 10 for Christmas. The following week, STEPS had moved up the charts, and become the first number one of 1999! 'Heartbeat / Tragedy' sold 1.3 million copies.

STEPS perform as part of the ABBA tribute at the Brit Awards 1999 STEPS perform at the BRITS

STEPS were nominated at the 1999 BRIT Awards for the 'Best Newcomer' award. The group also performed as part of an ABBA Tribute - organised by Waterman - which formed the centrepiece of the awards ceremony. They were joined by Tina Cousins, Billie Piper, B*Witched and Cleopatra.

Sadly, the 'Best Newcomer' award was given to "Belle and Sebastian". Upon hearing the news, Pete Waterman launched a protest, claiming that he had been told three days before the ceremony that STEPS had won the award. Waterman believed an influx of votes for "Belle and Sebastian" on the last day of voting won them the award, and since the group had released their first single in 1995, they should not be classed as 'newcomers'.

Nevetheless, STEPS' successes showed no sign of stopping! The group released their fifth single from 'Step One' on the 8th March 1999. 'Better Best Forgotten' peaked at number two. This was shortly followed by a recording of the ABBA tribute which STEPS had performed at the BRIT awards. It was released on Epic Records on the 29th March 1999 and entered the UK charts at number four.

In July 1999, STEPS released the first single from their new album 'Steptacular'. 'Love's Got A Hold On My Heart' reached number two in the UK chart and continued STEPS' successful chart run. Now the time came for the group to sell their music overseas.

The front cover for a copy of Smash Hits magazine in 1999, featuring STEPS and Britney Spears STEPS toured with Britney

In late 1999, STEPS started their first tour of the United States, supporting singer Britney Spears on her debut tour. During their stay in America, STEPS released a remixed version of 'One For Sorrow', which appeared on the film soundtrack to 'Drive Me Crazy' starring Melissa Joan-Hart. In 2000 the group released their first American and Canadian album - a new edition of 'Step One' featuring some tracks from 'Steptacular'.

Following modest success in the United States, STEPS released their music across the world. STEPS notched up chart hits in Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand to name but a few.

Upon their return home, STEPS released another single, 'After The Love Has Gone'. With its orientally inspired strings, the song was given good reviews and even made the Radio 1 playlist. The single was released in early October and debuted at number five. The single was followed by the release of 'Steptacular' in October 1999. The album debuted at number one and stayed there for over four weeks, keeping popular boyband '5ive' from the top spot. The album has sold over 1.2 million copies in the UK alone.

In Winter 1999, the group took a short two week vacation to America, where they recorded performances for Disney and Nickelodeon. These performances aired in the U.S.A in February 2000. STEPS also embarked on the biggest arena tour that had ever taken place in the UK. Over 30 dates were played in 3 months, including a special Hallowe'en performance live on pay-per-view channel 'Sky Box Office'. Each concert was sold out. The tour firmly established STEPS as one of the biggest UK acts since the Spice Girls.

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