In 1997, the face of cheesy pop music was taken to a whole new level with the arrival of cheesy dance group, Steps. Band members Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans, Ian “H” Watkins, Lisa Scott and Faye Tozer burst onto the scene with 5,6,7,8 and became an instant international success.
Although Steps shared vocals on almost all of their tracks, Claire Richards stands out as the one with the biggest and best voice of all the members.
Before joining Steps, Claire was a member of a girl band trio named TSD. However, after their first two singles flopped, they were dropped by their label and Claire went back to the “real world” where she took a job as a secretary. Her big break came after seeing an ad in The Stage newspaper – the entertainment industry’s best known job source – and was selected after flying through the singing and dancing auditions.
With her Steps bandmates, Claire had amazing chart success, with all but their first two singles making it to the top five of the UK charts. Their flawless singing and unique dance routines, which they often taught fans on television appearances, became the latest thing, and it wasn’t long before everyone knew the moves and performed them on dance floors all over the world!
Through the nineties, Steps released a string of cheerful hits including, Last Thing On My Mind, a cover of the Bee Gees Tragedy, Love’s Got A Hold On My Heart, Deeper Shade of Blue and Stomp. Over four years, Steps sold over twelve million singles and albums and won a Brit Award in 2000 for being the biggest selling act of the year. The band finally split on Boxing Day 2001 but no reason for the break up was given.
After the demise of Steps, Claire Richards went on to be a guest presenter on Saturday morning television show SM:TV, as well as MTV Select and Electric Circus.
In 2002, Claire announced that she and former band mate Ian “H” Watkins would be continuing in to release singles as a duo. They were signed to WEA Records and released their first track together in May of the same year. The song, DJ, reached number three in the UK charts and was quickly followed by Half A Heart and Beauty and the Beast which reached number eight and number ten respectively. Their debut album, however, could not match the success of the singles and charted at number fifty eight.
After failing to make their mark as a duo, Claire and H took a break from singing, and Claire married dancer Mark Webb in 2003. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in 2005 but Claire re-married in 2008. With her husband Reece Hill, Claire has two children, Charlie and Daisy.
Over the last couple of years, Claire has been in the media mainly because of her huge weight gain since quitting the music business. She gained an astonishing five stone, making her almost unrecognizable. To combat this problem, she released a fitness DVD in 2008 called Five Step Fat Attack which used Steps music to workout to.
According to the Claire Richards official website, there are no plans for her to release any more music in the near future – so it looks like for the time being, she is going to be content being a wife and mother.