The controversy Robbie Williams doesn’t want to talk about.

If you grew up in the '90s, then Robbie Williams was once a very big deal in your life.

Whether you rated his music or not, the man was inescapable, whether he was selling out stadium tours, releasing another hit single, or leaving us shocked with his cheeky TV interviews. 

Robbie Williams fever was everywhere — and especially in Australia where the singer still has legions of fans. 

A new Netflix documentary has the hitmaker reviewing hours of personal footage from his early years, including from the making of his most successful albums along with reflecting on his dating life

The four-part self-titled documentary Robbie Williams follows the 'Let Me Entertain You' singer from his early start as one-fifth of Take That to finding even greater success in his decades-spanning solo career.

Watch the trailer for Robbie Williams. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix.

The documentary offers the singer a chance to share some stories for the first time, as well as set the record straight on some of his career's controversies. 

But when it comes to his hit song 'Angels', there was a story that the singer conveniently left out. 


'Angels' isn't just any old song, it's the song that saved Robbie Williams' career. 

“My career was falling off a cliff," he said in the documentary. After leaving Take That, Williams failed to release any music that charted at number one, which at the time was the music industry's main measure of success. 

“A memo goes ‘round the record company [saying] I am about to be dropped, and it looks as though that’s it for the Williams boy... but in my back pocket, I had something special.”

The 'something special' was 'Angels', which was a song on his 1997 debut solo album, Life thru a Lens.

"'Angels' comes out and thank God for that because everything changed," he said. “Something was connecting and you could just feel this momentum, the rocket taking off.”

Listen to the iconic 'Angels' here. Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube. 

In the documentary, the singer admitted he doesn’t know “what it is that’s so special about this song but whatever it is, it had it”.

'Angels' would go on to become Robbie's best-selling song, one of the best-selling UK singles of the ‘90s and remains a beloved song. The track was voted the best song in the past 25 years at the 2005 Brit Awards. 


So yes, the song was, and still is, huge. 

But what Williams neglects to mention is how the song was made. 

The documentary focuses a lot on Robbie's efforts to be respected as a songwriter, spending a chunk of one episode on his feud with collaborator Guy Chambers over creative control of his music, yet he does not credit Irish musician Ray Heffernan for helping pen the song that kick-started his career. 

Heffernan wrote the original version of 'Angels', and then he played it for Robbie on a drunken evening out in Dublin in 1996.

"He ended up staying in my place, as we had said we would try to write some songs together. I had one that I had written in Paris called 'An Angel Instead,' which he liked, and we worked on it together," Smooth Radio reported Heffernan saying.

The duo worked on 'Angels' and later recorded a demo of the song together. 

"He called [talent manager] Louis Walsh, who organised a studio for us, and we recorded a version of it here in Dublin. He went back to England after that, and we lost touch. I was therefore very surprised to hear that 'Angels' was on his new album," he said.

"I got in touch, and essentially signed a waiver of my rights to the song for just £7,500 and the rest is musical history."

In 2017, Williams spoke about his decision to pay Heffernan.


“We could have gone to court, and it all would have been down to whether what way the judge wakes up that day out of bed … So I gave him some money, and he went away.”

Despite the payout, Robbie has always told a different story about how 'Angels' came to be, claiming he wrote it in just 25 minutes with collaborator Guy.

While Heffernan said the song was inspired by his partner's miscarriage, Robbie claims the song is about literal angels.

“When I was a kid I used to talk to dead people,” he told The Sun in 2019. “People think it's about my mum or think it's about somebody I loved but it's actually about angels."

In interviews, Williams has all but erased Hafferman from the song's writing process. "I was at my sister’s house in the garden with a pen and a paper," he spoke about the 'Angels' origin on Gary Barlow’s podcast in 2021. 

"I thought, right then, I’d better come up with something..[so I wrote] ‘I sit and wait'," 

Ray does not begrudge Robbie for what he did, well at least not anymore. 

"For a long time, I was angry about this, but as you get older you see things differently," he wrote in the Irish Independent. 

"It makes a good story." 

Based on the singer's new documentary, it's clear Robbie Williams does not share this same sentiment. 

Feature image: Getty.