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Biography Chapters   1 | 2 | 3  - Schizophonic Biography - Facts

Geri's official Biography

In May 1998, a 25-year-old woman walked out of her job, and it made world news. "I was standing on this mountaintop and I jumped, not knowing where I was going to fall," says Geri Halliwell of her abrupt departure from the Spice Girls. "Everyone was saying I was bonkers, but I had to go, get my feet back on the ground."

Geri had planned on leaving the Spice Girls in September 1998 and had already told the other girls of her decision, as she felt she had already achieved all she could as a member of the group. But then, in May, Geri wanted to do an interview with ITV about her breast cancer scare. When the Spice Girls' schedule would not permit it, it made her question her priorities. Within hours the decision had been made.

From nowhere to the pop phenomenon of the Nineties in the space of one record, the Spice Girls had been on an extraordinary girl-powered journey. They had hits around the world. They sold enormous numbers of records. They made a movie. They met Prince Charles and President Mandela. They met all of their pop heroes, then became more famous than most of them. And it all happened so fast that there was scarcely time in their schedule to sleep, let alone take in what had happened to them.

For Geri Halliwell, it was time to go, to find out who she was when she wasn't Ginger Spice. "There was nothing contrived about the Spice Girls and Ginger is a part of me, but I'd been wearing platforms since I was 18 and it was natural to grow out of it. I wasn't wearing those kind of clothes off-stage. My makeup was getting less and less. When I left, I needed to strip the lot away and say, 'Actually I'm an egg at the moment. I'm in incubation!'"

Of course, the offers came flooding in: film roles, TV shows. One magazine alone offered half a million for her story, but Geri took her time. She stayed at George Michael's house for a while. She sold the trademark outfits she'd worn as Ginger Spice, closing a chapter in her own life and raising 150,000 (over $240,000) for Sargent Cancer Care for Children. She went to Uganda for Comic Relief and nearly drowned twice while filming on some rapids there. She was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the UN. She sang 'Happy Birthday' to the future king of England ("If you ever have constipation, just sing to Prince Charles - I went to the loo eleven times, I was so nervous.")

And eventually, she made an album. A rather good album, in fact, which is called Schizophonic, which reflects her own contradictions. "I wanted it to be a very honest album, a blueprint of me. The manifesto, the brief I gave to the other writers I work with was that if I was to die at the end of this album, I wanted to know I'd taken each song to the max. There were no half-measures, it was a real reflection of my personality. It's an emotional roller-coaster, a hormonal mood-swing. I poured everything into it, it was almost like therapy for me."

The product of a Spanish mother and a Swedish-English father who was 50 by the time she was born in 1972, the Watford, England girl describes herself as "a mongrel." She grew up listening to Madonna, Michael Jackson and Abba, but was also influenced by the music and films her father loved: Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Bassey. All this came together to produce a record that is, she says, "A cross between Julie Andrews and Johnny Rotten."

Camp, quirky, fun, heartfelt and shamelessly, gloriously pop-tastic, the album features a big ballad with a full orchestra, a Hindu choir on another song and a nine-piece brass section playing New Orleans-style jazz in the middle of the first single "Look At Me." It was produced by Bristol duo the Absolute Boys, "soulboys and soulmates" who had previously worked with the Spice Girls and always been close to Geri creatively.

"Everything I've done, I've always done passionately, with all my heart and my soul," she says, "I didn't want to leave the Spice Girls and immediately have a record out on the back of that. That's why I've waited. I wanted to find out who I am, weigh up what I wanted to project and get a structure, a game-plan to it all.

"I've been licking my wounds. I've been in mourning, re-evaluating myself. I'd been wearing black which was a reaction to the Ginger thing. But with "Look At Me," I want to come back with a bang. I'm nervous, but I'm also a great believer in facing down fear. I don't want to be a granny later and think 'If only I'd tried.' I'm 26 years old, I'm too young to retire!"

When she left the Spice Girls, Geri released a statement, which ended with a promise to her fans: "I'll be back." A year later, she's kept her word with a record that's a lot like herself: strong, warm and big-hearted with a touch of mischief. Some of you may be surprised that she has a voice. Some of you may be surprised she can write songs. But no one who knew anything at all about the eldest Spice girl will be surprised that she has plenty to say and that she's saying it loudly, passionately, with energy and gusto. "I want everything I do to be special, to be fun and wow! I could never be run-of-the-mill."

Geri Halliwell is back. But then, you always knew she would be.