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They are now the newest and hottest of groups. But The Spice Girls have
come a long way — in fact they couldn’t sing and couldn’t dance when Ian
Lee first met them. Caitlin James hears the real story…

The legend of the Spice Girls has them all meeting up at auditions, all
desperate for a break and out of work, with two of them commuting from
the North down to London. Stories of how they decided to team up, live
together and form an all-girl-power group abound. The generally repeated
story of their beginnings says that for two years the five girls were
writing songs and laying down the foundations for the Spice Girls, and
after managing themselves, they met their current manager and the
bidding war began.The rest is history. Well, not quite.

Ian Lee, 50, is the main person who helped the Spice Girls realize their
immense ambitions and bring them to their present success. He runs the
charity-funded Trinity Studios in Woking, Surrey, where he helped groom
the band — which was originally called Touch Ian spent time with the
girls every day for a year, sat at a piano with them and helped them to
train their voices. But according to Ian Lee, the girls never clapped
eyes on each other until June 7, 1994. He says: «I couldn’t believe it
when all these stories came out about how the girls did everything

They were a put-together band. They’d never met until they were picked
from 400 others and Emma Bunton and Geri Halliwell weren’t even
considered for the original line-up. The whole idea of a girl band to
rival boy groups such as Take That and East 17 was dreamed up by Chris
Herbert who, together with his father Bob, owned a management company —
which was originally called Heart and later, Safe. The Herberts have
since been contracted by the girls’ new advisers, 19 Management, and
they are legally bound not to speak of their involvement with the Spice
Girls. What actually happened was that Herbert, 26, went to dance
schools and drama colleges in London and the South-East with a rather
cheap black and white flyer, asking for girls who could both sing and
dance, and who were streetwise, ambitious and dedicated.

job, but had begged with Chris Herbert on the telephone to give her a
try. When she walked in, everybody could see she was a bit older than
the rest of the girls so Chris asked her how old she was. Her reply was
a classic Geri. She said, «I’m as old or young as you want me to be. I
can be a 10-year old with big tits if you want.» She got the job.

On June 7, the girls came to the studio to work together. Chris had put
them all up in a local B&B, and for a week they got to sing and dance
together. After a week they were told they had a couple of weeks to
think things over, and decide if it was something they really wanted to
do. They all agreed and Chris moved them into a house in Maidenhead and
asked Ian to allow them to use his studios on a daily basis at a cost of
F100 a week. The girls were given expenses, but no regular wage. In a
bare, bleak dance studio with paint peeling from the yellow
tongue-and-groove surrounds, thegirls got to know each other.Soon after
Michelle left the band and Chris held a panic audition and Emma was
picked. She was suited to the rest of the girls.

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