Sarah Harding, who died on Sunday (Sept. 5) after a battle with breast cancer, aged just 39, left behind a massive impression on the U.K. charts as part of the pop outfit Girls Aloud.
The five-piece, consisting of Harding, Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Cheryl Cole, was a pop juggernaut through the noughts, collecting four Official Chart U.K. No. 1s singles and 21 Top 10s.
Twenty of those Top 10s were consecutive — a feat no female group has come close to matching, and the singers’ roaring success was confirmed by Guinness World Records, which in 2011 declared Girls Aloud as the “Most Successful Reality TV Group”.
Girls Aloud’s career got off to the loudest possible start with a No. 1 for their debut single “Sound of the Underground.” The single enjoyed a four-week stint at the summit and was followed with a cover of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” (2004), a collaboration cover of Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” (with Sugababes, 2007) and the BRIT Award-winning “The Promise” (2008). Both covers were charitable efforts.
The group assembled on the TV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, and went on to score six top 10 albums, including two leaders. Each of their five studio albums was certified platinum (300,000 units) in the U.K.
Following the last of those studio efforts, the No. 1 Out of Control from 2008, the band went on hiatus, and in March 2013, Girls Aloud announced their split.
Harding was diagnosed with breast cancer last August and was told earlier this year that she likely wouldn’t be alive by Christmas. Despite the grim news, she published her memoir Hear Me Out in March of this year, and, later, released a previously unheard single “Wear It Like A Crown,” with proceeds going to The Christie NHS Foundation, where she was receiving treatment.
“I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease,” Harding’s mom Marie wrote on social media, “she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.”