A collaboration between pop mogul Pete Waterman and promotions veteran Steve Jenkins that produced one of the UK pop sensations of the late 90s. The five members of Steps were recruited through an advertisement placed in The Stage in 1997 by manager Tim Byrne. Lisa Scott-Lee was a graduate of London's Italia Conti stage school and had toured as a professional singer/dancer, while Faye Tozer had gained experience working in a cabaret band at the Hilton in London. The other female member Claire Richards had previously appeared with girl band TSD. Lee Latchford-Evans, after turning down the opportunity to become a professional football player, had toured in various theatre productions, while Ian 'H' Watkins previously worked as a children's holiday-camp entertainer. The group's dancing backgrounds were reflected in their tightly choreographed performances, augmenting the appeal of Waterman's effortless pop productions. Inspired by the concurrent line-dancing fad, '5,6,7,8' was released in November 1997, spending 17 weeks in the UK Top 40 and reaching a peak position of 14, making it the biggest-selling single of the 90s to fail to enter the Top 10. For the follow-up single, Waterman revived an old Bananarama single, 'Last Thing On My Mind', which climbed to number 6 in May 1998 and was memorably described by Waterman as 'Abba on speed'.
The group's debut album entered the UK album chart at number 2 in September, buoyed by the success of 'One For Sorrow', a number 2 single in the same month. 'Heartbeat/Tragedy', originally recorded for a Bee Gees tribute album, debuted at number 2 in November. The song climbed back to UK number 1 in January 1999, eventually spending an impressive 15 weeks in the Top 10. 'Better Best Forgotten' debuted at number 2 in March, having failed to dislodge Boyzone from the top slot. 'Love's Got A Hold On My Heart' provided the group with their third UK number 2 single in July 1999, but the failure of the insipid 'After The Love Has Gone' to climb higher than number 5 indicated that some of their appeal might be waning. This did not stop the follow-up album, Steptacular, topping the UK chart in October. Keeping up their prolific work rate, the group released their third album in just two years the following year. Buzz included their second UK chart-topper, 'Stomp', and a collaboration with Cyndi Lauper on 'If You Believe'. Further chart hits followed before, in December 2001, the group announced they would be pursuing separate careers. Watkins and Richards were the first out of the blocks, announcing they would be continuing to record as H & Claire. The duo enjoyed UK Top 10 hits the following year with 'DJ' and 'Half A Heart'.
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