The Spice Girls were a global sensation when they took over the music industry with their debut single Wannabe in 1996, which was quickly followed by their album Spice, which went on to become the best-selling album by a female group in history.
With lyrics of female empowerment and a dance-pop styling, the band maintained popularity as they secured a movie deal and secured the highest-grossing concert tours by an all-female group, spanning from 2000 to 2020.
Selling 90million records worldwide, reaching the status of best selling girl group of all time and being the largest British pop success since the Beatles, you may think you already know everything there is about the five-girl line-up of Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham.
But there was originally another member – Michelle Stephenson – who was part of the group when they were known as Touch.
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At just 17, Michelle joined the group when the lineup was very different, consisting of Melanie Brown and three other women who would all later be replaced by the lineup we know today.
The 1994 group went by the name Touch and, in the audition process, Michelle scored top marks, meaning it was surprising that she later was removed from the girl group.
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In the documentary Raw Spice, son of original manager Bob Herbert, Chris, said that Michelle didn’t fit into the group, causing her to be asked to leave.
He said: "She just wasn't fitting in… she would never have gelled with it and I had to tell her to go."
Throughout Raw Spice it became clear that there was a problem between what Michelle wanted for the girls and what the managers were aiming for.
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She said: "I was not happy in the band.
"It was not the kind of music I wanted to be doing. It was very, very pop.”
Michelle gave her own reasons, claiming she was the one to leave as she had to go and take care of her mother who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
And things don’t seem to be great between Michelle and the current Spice Girls line-up, with Victoria Beckham previously saying that Michelle “just couldn’t be a**ed” to try and keep up with the work the rest of the girls were putting in.
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Michelle’s spot was later filled by Emma Bunton as the girls finally locked down the lineup and blew the world away with their performances.
On her role in the group, Michelle said she was the smart one: "I was the one at university, the intelligent one as it were. They all thought I was Smart Spice.”
Since leaving the group, Michelle has gone on to work as a TV presenter, a session singer and backing vocalist.
In 2003 she also released her own EP consisting of six songs titled SHESongs.
Of her past in the Spice Girls she said: "Of course I regret I'm not a multi-millionaire like them. But at the time I left the group I knew I was doing the right thing – and I still think it was the right thing.”
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