Arguably one of the most successful British music artists in history, Robbie Williams began his career with the boy band Take That, which enjoyed unparalleled popularity in the early 1990s, before establishing himself as a solo artist with numerous No. 1 albums and singles and over 57 million albums sold over the course of nearly two decades. Williams left Take That at the height of its popularity in 1995, citing his inability to conform to the rigid demands of its management, though his penchant for self-abusive, hard partying helped to facilitate the separation. His first solo record, Life Through a Lens (1997), immediately established him as a star in his own right, and he would remain at the top of the charts for the majority of the next decade while setting records for album and ticket sales around the globe - save for America, which remained persistently out of his reach. If his failure to crack the stateside market bothered Williams, he kept it well hidden, preferring instead to maintain a near-flawless chart record in his native U.K. while finding even greater fame by reuniting with Take That in 2010. The end of the decade found Williams in essentially the same place as where he stood at the beginning: at the top of the U.K. pop world.