Blur

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At a Glance

Formed: 1989 (25 years ago)


Biography

Even the best bands, the biggest bands, the most important ones, are cosmic accidents, and a worldbeating career can hinge on a brief encounter. Blur’s story begins at Colchester’s Stanway Comprehensive School in the early ’80s, and a feisty collision between recent East London transplant Damon Albarn and local lad Graham Coxon.
“First impressions of Damon?” Graham would recall. “Black mac. Very white shirt. Small Cary Grant tie knot. White socks. Very nice, rude boy shoes. I was wearing Tuf brogues and he said they were fakes.”

An alliance was born, intense and challenging. At lunchtimes ... Read more

Even the best bands, the biggest bands, the most important ones, are cosmic accidents, and a worldbeating career can hinge on a brief encounter. Blur’s story begins at Colchester’s Stanway Comprehensive School in the early ’80s, and a feisty collision between recent East London transplant Damon Albarn and local lad Graham Coxon.
“First impressions of Damon?” Graham would recall. “Black mac. Very white shirt. Small Cary Grant tie knot. White socks. Very nice, rude boy shoes. I was wearing Tuf brogues and he said they were fakes.”

An alliance was born, intense and challenging. At lunchtimes the two would obsess over The Jam, 2-Tone and Quadrophenia – prophetic in more ways than one. Later when art student Coxon joined Albarn’s pre-Blur band Circus, he brought instant guitar ideas and a bass-playing pal from Goldmith’s Alex James, who adjudged the music “shit” but could smell fun a mile off. The drummer, Mohawk-coiffed computer programmer Dave Rowntree, stood slightly left of Tony Benn and beat the tubs like a savage.

Together they became Seymour and then Blur: architects of a resurgence in British music as their first quartet of albums – Leisure (1991), Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995) – reconnected home grown pop with its classic paradigms – Ray Davies, Bowie, The Jam, John Barry, Syd Barrett, The Specials – and Damon Albarn matured into a poignant, telling painter of cultural landscapes.

Their first Number 1 album, Parklife, stayed in the charts for a mammoth 90 weeks and the following year, the band won four Brit Awards, a groundbreaking crossover moment for alternative music. On June 17, Blur played to 30,000 fans at East London’s Mile End Stadium and were joined onstage by Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels, who reprised his monologue from the album’s swaggering, ubiquitous title track; in August of that year they sold 274,000 copies of the Number 1 single Country House in the first week of its release.

Britpop had reached its peak, but Blur was moving on, into the sonically scuffed territory of the Blur (1997) album and another monolithic single, Song 2. Albarn and Coxon were back on the same page, as the destabilizing lunacy of Britpop’s 24-7 maelstrom subsided, and Blur’s continued exploration of the recording studio culminated in 13 (1999), their most experimental incarnation since the deconstructions of Seymour. Tender and No Distance Left to Run saw a rueful Albarn sifting the rubble of his eight-year relationship with Elastica singer Justine Frischmann while the record’s pop hit Coffee & TV, was sung by Coxon.

Combustible, like all creative combinations, Blur could sometimes take their differences out on each other but on stage their cocktail of personalities made for spectacular pop events, whether they ended with the band maced by security or the enraptured singalong that accompanied 1994’s Glastonbury set-closer, This Is A Low. And although that volatile chemistry has ensured a hiatus since 2002 – when the band completed the alternately touching and funky Think Tank album (2003) minus Graham Coxon - it also produced that record’s most ravishing song. “You can be with me if you want to be,” goes album closer Battery In Your Leg, as Graham’s guitars shimmer exquisitely. “This is a ballad for the good times…”

Almost exactly 20 years since the formation of Seymour, Blur have reconvened. Let the good times roll.

“It’s fantastic to get my old friend back.” Damon Albarn, 2008.

What they’re doing when they’re not being Blur…

Alex James’ musical projects outside of Blur have included Me Me Me (with Stephen Duffy) and Fat Les, makers of 1998’s Number 2 hit Vindaloo. He has written music with Marianne Faithfull, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the legend that is Betty Boo. A prolific writer for newspapers and magazines, he lives on a farm in Oxfordshire, and is the author of Britpop memoir A Bit of A Blur.

Dave Rowntree runs his own computer animation company, Nanomation, and has directed episodes of Channel 4 TV comedy series Empire Square. A Labour party member and activist, he is the party’s prospective candidate for the Cities Of London & Westminster constituency at the next General Election.

Graham Coxon is the founder of Transcopic Records and the author of six solo studio albums – The Sky Is Too High (1998), The Golden D (2000), Crow Sit On Blood Tree (2001), The Kiss Of Morning (2002), Happiness In Magazines (2004) and Love Travels At Illegal Speeds (2006) – finding time to co-write a 2007 single with Paul Weller, This Old Town, and collaborate on 22 Dreams album track Black River. His artworks, adorning the covers of records by Blur and Kate Rusby, have been exhibited at the ICA and elsewhere.

Damon Albarn partners artist Jamie Hewlett in virtual band Gorillaz, creators of the multi platinum selling Gorillaz (2001) and Grammy-winning Demon Days (2005) albums. Other musical adventures have included Mali Music, Democrazy, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, soundtracks to the films Ravenous and 101 Reykyavik and a multimedia opera in Mandarin, Monkey: Journey To The West. He is heavily involved with the cross-pollinating musical revue Africa Express, and has contributed songs production and performances to records by Tony Allen, Ray Davies, Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim and Amadou & Mariam.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Even the best bands, the biggest bands, the most important ones, are cosmic accidents, and a worldbeating career can hinge on a brief encounter. Blur’s story begins at Colchester’s Stanway Comprehensive School in the early ’80s, and a feisty collision between recent East London transplant Damon Albarn and local lad Graham Coxon.
“First impressions of Damon?” Graham would recall. “Black mac. Very white shirt. Small Cary Grant tie knot. White socks. Very nice, rude boy shoes. I was wearing Tuf brogues and he said they were fakes.”

An alliance was born, intense and challenging. At lunchtimes the two would obsess over The Jam, 2-Tone and Quadrophenia – prophetic in more ways than one. Later when art student Coxon joined Albarn’s pre-Blur band Circus, he brought instant guitar ideas and a bass-playing pal from Goldmith’s Alex James, who adjudged the music “shit” but could smell fun a mile off. The drummer, Mohawk-coiffed computer programmer Dave Rowntree, stood slightly left of Tony Benn and beat the tubs like a savage.

Together they became Seymour and then Blur: architects of a resurgence in British music as their first quartet of albums – Leisure (1991), Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995) – reconnected home grown pop with its classic paradigms – Ray Davies, Bowie, The Jam, John Barry, Syd Barrett, The Specials – and Damon Albarn matured into a poignant, telling painter of cultural landscapes.

Their first Number 1 album, Parklife, stayed in the charts for a mammoth 90 weeks and the following year, the band won four Brit Awards, a groundbreaking crossover moment for alternative music. On June 17, Blur played to 30,000 fans at East London’s Mile End Stadium and were joined onstage by Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels, who reprised his monologue from the album’s swaggering, ubiquitous title track; in August of that year they sold 274,000 copies of the Number 1 single Country House in the first week of its release.

Britpop had reached its peak, but Blur was moving on, into the sonically scuffed territory of the Blur (1997) album and another monolithic single, Song 2. Albarn and Coxon were back on the same page, as the destabilizing lunacy of Britpop’s 24-7 maelstrom subsided, and Blur’s continued exploration of the recording studio culminated in 13 (1999), their most experimental incarnation since the deconstructions of Seymour. Tender and No Distance Left to Run saw a rueful Albarn sifting the rubble of his eight-year relationship with Elastica singer Justine Frischmann while the record’s pop hit Coffee & TV, was sung by Coxon.

Combustible, like all creative combinations, Blur could sometimes take their differences out on each other but on stage their cocktail of personalities made for spectacular pop events, whether they ended with the band maced by security or the enraptured singalong that accompanied 1994’s Glastonbury set-closer, This Is A Low. And although that volatile chemistry has ensured a hiatus since 2002 – when the band completed the alternately touching and funky Think Tank album (2003) minus Graham Coxon - it also produced that record’s most ravishing song. “You can be with me if you want to be,” goes album closer Battery In Your Leg, as Graham’s guitars shimmer exquisitely. “This is a ballad for the good times…”

Almost exactly 20 years since the formation of Seymour, Blur have reconvened. Let the good times roll.

“It’s fantastic to get my old friend back.” Damon Albarn, 2008.

What they’re doing when they’re not being Blur…

Alex James’ musical projects outside of Blur have included Me Me Me (with Stephen Duffy) and Fat Les, makers of 1998’s Number 2 hit Vindaloo. He has written music with Marianne Faithfull, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the legend that is Betty Boo. A prolific writer for newspapers and magazines, he lives on a farm in Oxfordshire, and is the author of Britpop memoir A Bit of A Blur.

Dave Rowntree runs his own computer animation company, Nanomation, and has directed episodes of Channel 4 TV comedy series Empire Square. A Labour party member and activist, he is the party’s prospective candidate for the Cities Of London & Westminster constituency at the next General Election.

Graham Coxon is the founder of Transcopic Records and the author of six solo studio albums – The Sky Is Too High (1998), The Golden D (2000), Crow Sit On Blood Tree (2001), The Kiss Of Morning (2002), Happiness In Magazines (2004) and Love Travels At Illegal Speeds (2006) – finding time to co-write a 2007 single with Paul Weller, This Old Town, and collaborate on 22 Dreams album track Black River. His artworks, adorning the covers of records by Blur and Kate Rusby, have been exhibited at the ICA and elsewhere.

Damon Albarn partners artist Jamie Hewlett in virtual band Gorillaz, creators of the multi platinum selling Gorillaz (2001) and Grammy-winning Demon Days (2005) albums. Other musical adventures have included Mali Music, Democrazy, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, soundtracks to the films Ravenous and 101 Reykyavik and a multimedia opera in Mandarin, Monkey: Journey To The West. He is heavily involved with the cross-pollinating musical revue Africa Express, and has contributed songs production and performances to records by Tony Allen, Ray Davies, Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim and Amadou & Mariam.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Even the best bands, the biggest bands, the most important ones, are cosmic accidents, and a worldbeating career can hinge on a brief encounter. Blur’s story begins at Colchester’s Stanway Comprehensive School in the early ’80s, and a feisty collision between recent East London transplant Damon Albarn and local lad Graham Coxon.
“First impressions of Damon?” Graham would recall. “Black mac. Very white shirt. Small Cary Grant tie knot. White socks. Very nice, rude boy shoes. I was wearing Tuf brogues and he said they were fakes.”

An alliance was born, intense and challenging. At lunchtimes the two would obsess over The Jam, 2-Tone and Quadrophenia – prophetic in more ways than one. Later when art student Coxon joined Albarn’s pre-Blur band Circus, he brought instant guitar ideas and a bass-playing pal from Goldmith’s Alex James, who adjudged the music “shit” but could smell fun a mile off. The drummer, Mohawk-coiffed computer programmer Dave Rowntree, stood slightly left of Tony Benn and beat the tubs like a savage.

Together they became Seymour and then Blur: architects of a resurgence in British music as their first quartet of albums – Leisure (1991), Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995) – reconnected home grown pop with its classic paradigms – Ray Davies, Bowie, The Jam, John Barry, Syd Barrett, The Specials – and Damon Albarn matured into a poignant, telling painter of cultural landscapes.

Their first Number 1 album, Parklife, stayed in the charts for a mammoth 90 weeks and the following year, the band won four Brit Awards, a groundbreaking crossover moment for alternative music. On June 17, Blur played to 30,000 fans at East London’s Mile End Stadium and were joined onstage by Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels, who reprised his monologue from the album’s swaggering, ubiquitous title track; in August of that year they sold 274,000 copies of the Number 1 single Country House in the first week of its release.

Britpop had reached its peak, but Blur was moving on, into the sonically scuffed territory of the Blur (1997) album and another monolithic single, Song 2. Albarn and Coxon were back on the same page, as the destabilizing lunacy of Britpop’s 24-7 maelstrom subsided, and Blur’s continued exploration of the recording studio culminated in 13 (1999), their most experimental incarnation since the deconstructions of Seymour. Tender and No Distance Left to Run saw a rueful Albarn sifting the rubble of his eight-year relationship with Elastica singer Justine Frischmann while the record’s pop hit Coffee & TV, was sung by Coxon.

Combustible, like all creative combinations, Blur could sometimes take their differences out on each other but on stage their cocktail of personalities made for spectacular pop events, whether they ended with the band maced by security or the enraptured singalong that accompanied 1994’s Glastonbury set-closer, This Is A Low. And although that volatile chemistry has ensured a hiatus since 2002 – when the band completed the alternately touching and funky Think Tank album (2003) minus Graham Coxon - it also produced that record’s most ravishing song. “You can be with me if you want to be,” goes album closer Battery In Your Leg, as Graham’s guitars shimmer exquisitely. “This is a ballad for the good times…”

Almost exactly 20 years since the formation of Seymour, Blur have reconvened. Let the good times roll.

“It’s fantastic to get my old friend back.” Damon Albarn, 2008.

What they’re doing when they’re not being Blur…

Alex James’ musical projects outside of Blur have included Me Me Me (with Stephen Duffy) and Fat Les, makers of 1998’s Number 2 hit Vindaloo. He has written music with Marianne Faithfull, Sophie Ellis Bextor and the legend that is Betty Boo. A prolific writer for newspapers and magazines, he lives on a farm in Oxfordshire, and is the author of Britpop memoir A Bit of A Blur.

Dave Rowntree runs his own computer animation company, Nanomation, and has directed episodes of Channel 4 TV comedy series Empire Square. A Labour party member and activist, he is the party’s prospective candidate for the Cities Of London & Westminster constituency at the next General Election.

Graham Coxon is the founder of Transcopic Records and the author of six solo studio albums – The Sky Is Too High (1998), The Golden D (2000), Crow Sit On Blood Tree (2001), The Kiss Of Morning (2002), Happiness In Magazines (2004) and Love Travels At Illegal Speeds (2006) – finding time to co-write a 2007 single with Paul Weller, This Old Town, and collaborate on 22 Dreams album track Black River. His artworks, adorning the covers of records by Blur and Kate Rusby, have been exhibited at the ICA and elsewhere.

Damon Albarn partners artist Jamie Hewlett in virtual band Gorillaz, creators of the multi platinum selling Gorillaz (2001) and Grammy-winning Demon Days (2005) albums. Other musical adventures have included Mali Music, Democrazy, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, soundtracks to the films Ravenous and 101 Reykyavik and a multimedia opera in Mandarin, Monkey: Journey To The West. He is heavily involved with the cross-pollinating musical revue Africa Express, and has contributed songs production and performances to records by Tony Allen, Ray Davies, Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim and Amadou & Mariam.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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