Taking the planet by storm with their catchy songs, distinctive look and powerful personalities, the Spice Girls were true 1990s pop culture icons who are unlikely to be forgotten any time soon. And if you wannabe more knowledgeable about one of the most successful music acts of all time, below are ten facts about Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Posh that are one hundred percent guaranteed to spice up your life.
25. Geri Halliwell missed the group’s first audition after getting sunburnt
Although she made it into the band in the end, Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell actually missed the band’s very first audition.
Halliwell had been visiting her grandmother in Spain before the first round of auditions for the group.
She got badly sunburnt while there and was too embarrassed to turn up to the auditions red-faced.
Thankfully the future Ginger Spice was given a second chance by Bob Herbert, the group’s manager at the time.
Apparently Halliwell wouldn’t even reveal how old she was when they asked her during the audition
She reportedly said “I’m as old as you want me to be.” An unorthodox approach, but it clearly worked!
24. They originally went by the name Touch
Back in March 1994, around 400 women auditioned to be a part of the group.
Bob and Chris Herbert of Heart management distributed flyers and placed ads all over the UK in a bid to find their perfect line-up.
— MTV (@MTV) June 15, 2021
At the time, it was planned that the five successful candidates would record songs under the name ‘Touch.’
The band was then rebranded as ‘Spice’ before being lengthened to ‘Spice Girls’ on Geri Halliwell’s suggestion.
The name was inspired by the song Sugar and Spice – one of the first tracks the group ever recorded.
Thankfully the band’s management listened to Halliwell and permitted the group to become the Spice Girls.
23. Emma Bunton joined after another member was sacked
Baby Spice Emma Bunton was the last to join the group, and was only given the opportunity after another member got the sack.
Victoria Beckham would later claim that singer and TV presenter Michelle Stephenson, the original fifth Spice, was fired because she “just couldn’t be a**ed” to put in the same amount of work as the rest of the girls.
However, this ultimately wasn’t the whole story. Stephenson herself would later claim it was nothing to do with her work ethic.
She said that it was her own decision to leave the group after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Original Spice Girls manager Bob Herbert, meanwhile, gave his own reason: “she just wasn’t fitting in… she would never have gelled with it and I had to tell her to go”.
Whatever the truth, Stephenson has since said she has no regrets about how her Spice Girls experience turned out.
22. Their debut album was the biggest selling ever by a female group
The Spice Girls’ debut album Spice sold a staggering 23 million copies, making it the biggest selling album ever by an all-female group.
This massive global success began with the girls’ 1996 debut single Wannabe – which was reportedly written in just ten minutes.
The song went on to become a worldwide smash hit, hitting the number one spot in an impressive 37 countries.
Interestingly, Wannabe almost wasn’t the Spice Girls’ debut single and the girls had to do some convincing to release the song.
Their record company apparently wanted Love Thing to be released as their debut song instead.
But thankfully the group managed to talk their managers round and ultimately Wannabe was released as their debut.
21. Their video for Wannabe was banned in some countries
Despite it being an uproariously uplifting slice of pop music fun, the video for Wannabe was actually banned in some parts of Asia.
This was due to Mel B’s lime green top, which some believed left very little to the imagination and should be removed from their country’s TV screens.
Although the video is now seen as iconic, at the time Virgin’s executives also weren’t too happy with it.
Execs didn’t like the fact that elderly people appeared in the video; the part where the group jumps onto a table; or Halliwell’s outfit. Virgin immediately opened discussions about a re-shoot of the video or creating an alternate one for the US, but the group refused. The video was sent for trial airing in its original form
Virgin were keen for a total do-over and wanted to re-shoot the whole video or at least create a revised version for US audiences.
But the group refused and insisted on releasing the original version which, as Halliwell put it, “captured the madness of the Spice Girls.”
20. They released their own critically panned movie
The unprecedented success of the Spice Girls led to them starring in their own movie alongside the likes of Richard E. Grant, Alan Cumming and Meat Loaf.
The 1997 film brought in a healthy $100 million at the worldwide box office, setting a record opening week for a British film in the UK at the time.
But Spice World was not a hit with critics with Roger Ebert describing it as “an entertainment free dead zone.”
He also went on to say: “The Spice Girls are easier to tell apart than the Mutant Ninja Turtles, but that is small consolation.”
“What can you say about five women whose principal distinguishing characteristic is that they have different names?”
“They occupy Spice World as if they were watching it: They’re so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”
19. They’re the most successful British band since the Beatles
The Spice Girls are the best-selling girl group of all time with 90 million records sold.
They were also the youngest ever recipients of the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
Their phenomenal worldwide success has led to them being regarded as the most successful British band since the Beatles.
Rolling Stone journalist David Sinclair once wrote that “Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh, and Sporty were the most widely recognised group of individuals since John, Paul, George and Ringo.”
There are many similarities between the two groups: both had intense but relatively short-lived careers, for instance.
Both also had sizeable impacts on British culture as a whole, influencing not only contemporary music but also fashion.
18. Failing to sign them is Simon Cowell’s biggest regret
Pop music mogul Simon Cowell has revealed that failing to sign the Spice Girls is his biggest regret.
The record executive and TV presenter explained to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show in 2013 how he ended up missing out on signing them.
“Spice Girls is probably my biggest mistake,” Cowell said, to which Leno responded “You passed on the Spice Girls?”
Cowell then revealed that he “offered them a deal but they didn’t want to sign for me, so that kind of hurt at the time.”
Victoria Beckham remembers things differently, however, and claims that it was actually the other way round.
She been quoted as saying that Cowell is “the only man in the music industry who turned down the Spice Girls.”
17. At their peak the band were bringing in as much as $800 million a year
In addition to their impressive record sales, Spice Girls’ manager Simon Fuller managed to mould the group into a slick business empire.
In 1997 the band produced huge quantities of Spice Girls merchandise and bagged several lucrative sponsorship deals.
The group had deals with a number of big companies including Pepsi, Cadbury and Polaroid.
With the official Spice Girls branding emblazoned on many product tie-ins, the group went on to become the most merchandised music group ever.
By 1998 it was estimated that the girls and their associated marketing enterprises were bringing in between $500 and $800 million every single year.
The group eventually received some backlash for their relentless merchandising following suggestions that Fuller was going too far – but it wasn’t enough to seriously dent their popularity.
16. Posh’s outfits were the most expensive
The Spice Girls were known for their iconic outfits – from Mel C’s tracksuits to Mel B’s leopard-print ensembles.
Victoria would often wear the most pared-down clothing – usually a classic LBD – but her outfits were actually the most expensive.
During a talk at the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Posh spoke to Claudia Winkleman about the cost of her wardrobe.
“I was always the one that loved fashion and it was quite a result for me, because the girls always used to get their clothes for free because they were c**p,” she said.
She continued: “And so there was a lot of budget for me to have my little Gucci dress.”
Speaking to the Telegraph in 2021, the director of video at Virgin at the time revealed that in the Wannabe video Emma was wearing a dress from Topshop while Geri wore a leotard she’d bought at a market for £20.
15. Tony Blair turned down an offer to be in the Wannabe video
The Wannabe video sees the girls rollicking through a fancy do at an upmarket hotel in London.
The video is already iconic enough as it is – but the group had a plan at the time to make it even more memorable.
— Music Week (@MusicWeek) June 14, 2021
Geri approached the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Blair, while at the Brit Awards in 1996.
Keen to feature a future prime minister in the video, she asked him if he’d like to take part.
She reportedly said: “Mr Blair, I’m Geri and I’m in an all-girl band. We’re going to be huge. We’re about to make our first video. Would you be interested in appearing in it?”
Blair politely declined, apparently claiming that he was “pretty busy at the moment” – which is probably fair enough!
14. Victoria Beckham’s microphone would often be turned off during live performances
Victoria Beckham was the only Spice Girl not to have her own line in their debut single Wannabe.
This was largely because Posh Spice was almost definitely the worst singer in the group.
In 2016, Posh also revealed that she often could not be heard during the girls’ live performances.
She said: “they used to turn my microphone off and just let the others sing. Luckily because I used to wear heels I just used to jig about a bit and I got away with it.”
“But it never came easily,” she added. “I was always much more reserved than the other girls.”
But Posh’s quiet demeanour only made her more memorable and it’s safe to say that the Spice Girls wouldn’t have been the same without her.
13. Top of the Pops magazine came up with their nicknames
Even if you can’t name all five Spice Girls, you can probably remember their nicknames.
The names Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh and Sporty helped make the group extra memorable and quirky.
But, funnily enough, none of the Spice Girls nor anyone on their management team came up with the nicknames.
The names were invented during an editorial meeting at Top of the Pops music magazine.
“We decided they were the kind of band we could have a lot of fun with,” Peter Loraine, the magazine’s editor, said.
“We thought we could make up some stupid names.” Apparently the plan was to call one girl ‘Old Spice’ – but thankfully Geri had just dyed her hair bright red, and so the team went for Ginger Spice instead.
12. They used to use underwear to tie up their hair
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1997, the girls revealed that they often didn’t use scrunchies to tie up their hair.
Instead, they used something a little unorthodox – underwear. This was apparently a trend inspired by Mel B.
Concert Inspo: Spice Girls “Say You’ll Be There” music video. pic.twitter.com/ZtvbsTX9ML
— MARINA (@MarinaDiamandis) May 25, 2021
The girls revealed in the interview that using a G-string was best as there was less material to get in the way.
Most of the girls insisted on using clean underwear when it came to tying back their hair.
But apparently Mel B didn’t mind if she used underwear that had already been worn.
“[My knickers] smell of roses,” she claimed. “And I think it’s nicer to wear something that’s been lived in rather than fresh, crisp and clean.”
11. Fans of the band have included Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles
The Spice Girls had millions of fans all around the world – and this included some fans in high places too.
They met Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997 and he proclaimed that the girls were his “heroes.”
Mandela also added that meeting them was one of the greatest moments of his life.
“He’s our hero as well, he really is,” Geri added. “I think we’re on the same level,” she continued, explaining that Mandela’s politics tallied with the Spice Girls’ passion for ‘girl power.’
The girls also met Prince Charles during the same visit. The Prince called spending time with the group “the second greatest moment in my life.”
He went on to say that “the greatest was the first time that I met them.”
10. The original plan was for them all to dress the same
The fact that each Spice girl has their own distinct image and persona was part of their huge appeal.
But the girls were initially all meant to dress in the same way, much like The Beatles did.
“We bought tight white vintage Adidas T-shirts for everyone in the band to wear,” Geri said in an article written for Marie Claire in 2016.
“Because when you’re in a band, you should all look the same, right?” she added.
“We wore them at our first-ever performance for our family and friends in a community center in Finchley, a neighborhood in North London.”
“It quickly became obvious that Victoria and Emma weren’t exactly comfortable in the T-shirts we’d picked out. It was also obvious that the only way forward was to celebrate our individuality and let everyone be herself. So we did.”
9. Geri’s Union Jack dress broke a world record
If you’ve ever gone as Geri Halliwell for a fancy dress party, chances are you wore a knockoff of her iconic Union Jack dress.
She was initially meant to wear a plain black Gucci dress for the BRIT Awards but wanted to wear something which celebrated being British.
And so she asked her sister Karen to stitch on a Union Jack tea towel to the front of the dress.
A year after Halliwell performed in the dress at the BRIT Awards, she auctioned it off at Sotheby’s in Londo for a staggering £41,320.
At the time it broke the Guinness World Record for the most expensive piece of popstar clothing dealt at auction.
The buyer was Peter Morton who purchased the dress on behalf of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in LA.
8. Mel C was bullied by another Spice Girl – but she won’t say who
The girls may have given off the impression that they were the best of friends, but apparently this wasn’t the case.
Mel C revealed in 2016 that she was bullied by another bandmate during her time in the band.
Speaking to Attitude, she explained how one of her songs – Version of Me – touched on her experience of being bullied.
“Unfortunately, being bullied can really damage people and even when you are stronger and over it, it can still be in the background – undermining you,” she said.
She confirmed that she was bullied by another Spice Girl, but added: “I’m not going to name names.”
“It’s been addressed, they were aware of what they’d done. They apologized… Now I’m older, I’m a lot more confident and I will not be s*** upon.”
7. For the first two years they all lived together in a house share
For a couple of years at the beginning of their career, the girls all shared a small terraced house in Maidenhead.
While their lives all eventually became much more glamorous, initially, they lived just like a bunch of normal girls in a house share.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2019, Emma Bunton aka Baby Spice revealed how things played out in the Spice house.
She said that Mel C and Geri were in charge of taking out the bins, while she was on cooking duty.
“I used to make beans on toast for everyone, while Mel B used to cook corned beef and rice.”
Apparently, despite her slightly snooty persona, Posh Spice was the one responsible for cleaning the bathroom.
6. Emma passed out from sunstroke while shooting the music video for Say You’ll Be There
The girls pushed themselves to the limit for their work – and that included jeopardising their health.
Emma Bunton actually passed out from sunstroke while the girls were busy shooting the music video for Say You’ll Be There.
The group shot the video in the boiling heat of the Mojave Desert in North America.
It’s no surprise that Baby Spice couldn’t stand the heat and collapsed after performing multiple martial arts moves for the video.
Interestingly, she was the only Spice Girl who actually knew how to do the karate moves in the video.
As her mother, Pauline, was a karate instructor, it fell to Baby Spice to teach the other girls all the necessary moves.
5. Victoria auditioned to play Lara Croft
Interestingly, Posh auditioned for the role of Lara Croft in the 2001 adventure film Tomb Raider.
Unfortunately, she lost out to Angelina Jolie – who went on to be praised for her performance as Croft.
This wasn’t the first time Victoria – or any of the other Spice Girls – had dabbled in acting, however.
The group famously starred in their own movie, Spice World, which went on to be panned by critics.
All of the girls won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress and were also nominated in the categories Worst New Star and Worst Original Song.
Still – even if Posh didn’t make it as an actress, it’s safe to say she managed to have a successful career in other ways.
4. Both Mel B and Victoria found out they were pregnant while on tour
The Spice Girls were a solid unit, so it’s almost no surprise that two of them got pregnant at the same time.
Both Mel B (Scary Spice) and Victoria (Posh Spice) found out that they were pregnant during the band’s final American tour.
Posh’s baby was with her now-husband footballer David Beckham, while Mel B’s was fathered by her then-husband Jimmy Gulzar.
Adorably, the bandmates’ babies were born just 13 days apart back in spring 1999 – with Mel B’s daughter Phoenix born just before Victoria’s son Brooklyn.
The other Spice Girls all went on to have children later in life too. Emma Bunton had her first child in 2007 and her second in 2011.
Mel C had her first child, a daughter, in 2009, while Geri Halliwell gave birth to a daughter in 2006 and a son in 2017.
3. They have an airplane named after them
The Spice Girls were one of the biggest bands in the world, so it’s almost no surprise to learn that they have a jumbo jet named after them.
The band visited Los Angeles International Airport in December 2007 to unveil the Boeing 747 named ‘Spice One.’
The girls ran a competition to see what the plane should be called and shortlisted three names: Spice Girl, Girl Power and Spice One.
They then ran an online poll to decide the winner – and Spice One came out on top.
The winning name was thought up by Spice Girl super fan Diogo Yomane of Brazil.
The plane was made by Virgin Atlantic, which was fitting given that the Spice Girls signed with Virgin Records.
2. The video for Viva Forever had to be animated because the girls were too busy
The video for Viva Forever sees five animated avatars of the Spice Girls as fairies singing the song.
The video was directed by Academy Award winner Steve Box of Aardman Animation – the same studio behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run.
Box created five 12-inch-high puppets of each Spice Girl – including one for Geri Halliwell even though she had left the group by this point.
The girls opted for an animated video for the song as they couldn’t fit in time to shoot a video with their packed schedules.
The unusual video allowed Box to experiment and create something truly meaningful and unique.
“I came up with this idea for the girls to be tin toy fairies that were like lost toys, which was a little bit of a comment on that modern pop,” he said. “You buy it, you put your money in, you get your music and then shortly afterwards it will disappear…”
1. Mel C missed her recall audition because she had tonsillitis
As aforementioned, Geri Halliwell missed the first audition because she was sunburnt after visiting her grandmother in Spain.
But she wasn’t the only Spice Girl to miss an audition – Mel C also failed to turn up to her recall.
“I got a recall to see if I was able to sing,” she said. “But a week later I became really ill with tonsillitis.”
“I couldn’t even speak, let alone sing… I had my mum call the management and basically beg them to give me a little bit of time to get better.”
“But they were like, ‘Sorry, we’ve got the girls.’” It seemed as though Mel C’s chances of joining were basically over.
But all hope wasn’t lost. “Then I got a call a couple of weeks later to say one of the girls hadn’t worked out and they’d like me to come back down and sing,” she said. Her performance obviously impressed the managers enough to let her join the group.