Gary Barlow (born 20 January 1971) is an English singer-songwriter, pianist and record producer. He is the lead vocalist of British pop group Take That and is the head judge on The X Factor. Barlow is one of Britain's most successful songwriters. He has had two Number 1 singles and a Number 1 album as a solo artist, and has had sixteen top 5 hits, eleven Number 1 singles and seven Number 1 albums with Take That. He is a five-time recipient of the Ivor Novello Award and was voted the greatest British songwriter of all time in a national 2009 poll organised by OnePoll.
Gary said he enjoyed watching Top of the Pops on television, and when he was ten years old, he watched an episode of the programme in which Depeche Mode were performing their new single "Just Can't Get Enough". Barlow was mesmerised by the sound and decided he wanted a keyboard for Christmas. For the next few years, he spent most of his spare time teaching himself to play his favourite songs.
In 1986 Barlow entered a BBC Pebble Mill at One competition called A Song For Christmas with a song called "Let's Pray For Christmas". After getting through to the semi-finals, he was invited to London's West Heath Studios to record his song. This inspired Barlow to perform on the northern club circuit, singing cover versions and his own songs. Barlow's first performance was at the Connah's Quay Labour Cub in the late eighties and he was paid £18 per performance on Saturday evenings.