Ten facts you didn’t know about Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams with his wife, Ayda Field, at the BRIT Awards
She’s the one: Robbie Williams has a tattoo dedicated to his wife, Ayda Field Credit: Getty

Think you know all there is to know about the winner of this year’s BRITs Icon Award? Think again…

Having won more BRITs than any other artist in history (17, if you’re counting) and bagged the prestigious BRITs Icon Award in November (joining Sir Elton John and David Bowie as the only ever recipients), Robbie Williams has promised to put on a stunning show when he takes to the stage at the 37th annual award ceremony on 22 February at The O2.

But while Robbie has been a part of British music culture for decades, there are a lot of things you probably never knew about him. Here are 10 to top up your pop trivia knowledge in time for the big event.

He has his own set of emojis

The RobbieMoji keyboard and app features hundreds of Robbie-themed exclusive emojis and stickers that you can use to communicate your every mood and expression.

Angels only made it to No 4 in the UK chart when it was released in December 1997

His song Millennium was his first solo No 1, hitting the top spot when released as a single from his 1998 album I’ve Been Expecting You.

He has his own clothing line

Robbie set up Farrell in 2011, specialising in modern style with quintessentially old-fashioned tailoring. The range is named after his grandfather, Jack Farrell, and is sold exclusively in Primark stores across the UK and Europe.

Robbie voiced the character of Dougal in The Magic Roundabout movie

He joined an all-star cast that included Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley, Sir Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue and Bill Nighy for the 2005 animated film. Dougal is a hairy dog, resembling a Skye terrier, with an inquisitive nature.

Robbie set up Soccer Aid with his friend Jonathan Wilkes

The biennial charity event – a football match between teams of celebrities and professional football players – has raised more than £20 million for Unicef, for which Robbie is a UK ambassador.

Work hard, play hard: Robbie Williams at one of his charity football matches Credit: Getty

He appeared in EastEnders – although you probably didn’t notice

When Boris Johnson, then the London mayor, had a cameo in the much loved soap in 2009, he got to have a chat with Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell. That was a big upgrade on Robbie Williams’ guest appearance in 1995, when the bad boy of Take That lurked in the background on a payphone for all of a couple of seconds.

He used to be a double glazing salesman

Robbie tried his hand at selling windows in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent after leaving school at 16 – the same year he auditioned for a new boyband called Take That.

Robbie can’t drive

He said he regrets never learning, but when living in London “the traffic is terrible so you get cabs to go everywhere” – which would still mean you get stuck in traffic, surely?  

He had to pay £1.5 million to break his contract and leave Take That

“I think I made a million or something in Take That and then it cost me a million and a half to get out of the deal,” he said. “So, as a 20-year-old, I ended up coming out of Take That owing £500,000.” But it was an investment worth making, as his £80 million solo contract with EMI in 2002 is still one of the biggest recording deals of all time. “I am rich beyond my wildest dreams,” he said at the time. Rich beyond all of our dreams, Robbie.

He has an “A” tattooed on his ring finger

Robbie got the tat after losing his wedding ring within the first year of marriage to wife Ayda Field. He said: “[I] can’t lose a tattoo, barring some very unfortunate incident.”

Bonus fact: Robbie has topped the Official Albums Chart 12 times

His new album, The Heavy Entertainment Show, reached No 1 in November 2016, meaning Robbie has matched Elvis Presley’s record for the most chart-topping albums for a male solo artist in the UK. The Beatles currently hold the record for the most No 1 albums ever – 15.

The priceless side of music

In this series, brought to you by Mastercard®, you will discover what makes British music priceless – and how that brilliance is celebrated at the incredible BRIT Awards.

2017 is the 19th year of Mastercard’s headline sponsorship of The BRIT Awards.  To celebrate, Mastercard brought Robbie Williams face to face with one of his greatest fans, to discover how music has changed their life.

Whether it’s walking the red carpet with their idols, accessing sold-out tickets or going to an intimate gig, Mastercard helps cardholders live the priceless side of music. Mastercard also continues its sponsorship of the much sought-after British Album of the Year award.