Take That star Gary Barlow marks a massive milestone on Thursday (20Jan11) - the singer/songwriter turns 40.
Born in 1971 in Cheshire, north-west England, Barlow's big break in the music industry came in 1990 when he was introduced to manager Nigel Martin-Smith and landed a part in the line-up of boy band Take That.
Along with bandmates Robbie Williams, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Jason Orange, he went on to dominate the charts in the U.K. during the early 1990s, before Williams left in 1995 and the group split the following year (96).
Barlow later topped the charts again as a solo artist and, after a break from the spotlight, he enjoyed fresh success when the band reunited as a four-piece - minus Williams - in 2006.
Williams has since rejoined the line-up.
To say Happy Birthday to Gary, WENN has compiled 10 fascinating facts about the star:
- His interest in music began early on in life - when Barlow was just 10 years old. He received a keyboard for Christmas and spent the next few years teaching himself to play his favourite songs.
- Barlow's track Pray was Take That's first number one single in 1993. They've since had 11 more songs top the chart in Britain.
- He sang backing vocals on Elton John's Lion King hit Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
- After Take That split in 1996, Barlow embarked on a short solo career and also wrote tracks for other artists, including Dame Shirley Bassey and Charlotte Church.
- The singer has Take That to thank for his family - he met wife Dawn on the group's 1995 Nobody Else Tour. The couple now has three children.
- He shares his birthday with director David Lynch, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and fellow British singer Will Young.
- Barlow was the Director of Music for British TV show Britannia High, which ran in 2008. However, it was dropped after just one season due to poor ratings.
- He organised a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa to benefit British organisation Comic Relief in 2009, roping in celebrity pals including Ronan Keating and Cheryl Cole.
- The singer was once named the greatest British songwriter of all time, beating Beatles legend John Lennon.
- Barlow is celebrating his birthday with a charity show - his first solo gig in 11 years. It takes place on Thursday night in London.