Damon Albarn (born 23.3.1968)
Damon Albarn is a singer and musician. He is best known for his work with Blur and Gorillaz.
Childhood: Damon Albarn was born in the Whitechapel area of London, to Keith and Hazel Albarn. His mother was a theatrical set designer and his father once managed Soft Machine and also presented Late Night Line Up on the BBC, as well as being the head of North Essex College of Art.
Albarn grew up in Leytonstone, in a middle-class, bohemian environment. He went to school at George Tomlinson Primary School. Whilst at school, he learnt to play guitar, piano and violin.
At the age of 12, he befriended Graham Coxon, when they both studied at Stanway Comprehensive School. Three years later, Albarn won his regional heat of the Young Composer of the Year competition. He briefly studied drama at the East 15 Acting School but left after just a year. He found work as a mime artist and as a tea boy at the Beat Factory studio.
Damon Albarn then attended Goldsmiths College, where he studied music. Before forming Blur, he was in other bands, including Two's A Crowd, The Aftermath and Real Lives.
Music: Damon Albarn formed Blur in 1989 with Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree. They became hugely popular in the 1990s. Their album Parklife became their breakthrough album, with the lead single (also named 'Parklife') featuring the actor Phil Daniels.
When Blur released their single 'Country House' on the same date as Oasis' 'Roll With It', the music press made much of the rivalry between the two bands, with Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher engaging in a public slanging match with the members of Blur. Eventually, 'Country House' won the battle to the UK singles chart number one spot.
Graham Coxon left Blur in 2002 and embarked on a solo career. The band disbanded not long after that, but reformed in 2009, playing Glastonbury Festival, amongst other dates.
In 1999, Albarn collaborated with Michael Nyman to produce a score for the film Ravenous, which starred Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle.
Damon Albarn released a solo album in 2002, entitled Mali Music. The album was conceived when he traveled to Mali in 2000 to support the work of Oxfam. In 2009, Damon Albarn was credited with producing parts of Amadou & Mariam's Welcome To Mali album.
In 2003, he released Democrazy, which was a collection of demos that he recorded in hotel rooms on the US promo tour for Blur's Think Tank album.
Damon Albarn's song 'Closet Romantic' also appeared on the soundtrack for the film adaptation for Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, which starred Ewan McGregor.
In 2004, Albarn also made a guest appearance on Fatboy Slim's Palookaville album.
After leaving Blur, Damon Albarn formed the band Gorillaz along with Jamie Hewlett (the artist who created Tank Girl). The concept of the band is that the music is fronted by four two-dimensional animated characters, named 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel. They style of the music ranges from rock, to hip-hop and electronica. They have released two studio albums, entitled Gorillaz and Demon Days.
The Good, The Bad and The Queen is a project announced in May 2006 and features Damon Albarn, Danger Mouse (as producer), Paul Simonon of The Clash, Simon Tong of The Verve and Tony Allen (a member of Fela Kuti's Africa 70). In April 2008, The Good, The Bad & The Queen headlines Victoria Park's Love Music Hate Racism concert and were joined onstage by Jerry Dammers of The Specials.
Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn worked together once more, adapting the Chinese story Journey to the West and 'Monkey: Journey to the West', along with the opera director Chen Shi-zheng. The show received its world premier at the Manchester International Festival in 2007.
Personal Life: Damon Albarn had a very public, lengthy relationship with Justine Frischmann of Elastica during the 1990s.
Albarn is now in a relationship with the artist Suzi Winstanley. They have a daughter together, Missy Violet, born in 1999.
Coxon spoke to Uncut magazine about the sense of guilt he had about his exile from the group in 2002, and how it motivated him to work on their forthcoming LP 'The Magic Whip'.
Coxon left the group during the first sessions for the band’s seventh album Think Tank, because he was still in rehab at the time receiving treatment for his addiction to alcohol, but didn’t tell anyone. When he didn’t turn up to the sessions as expected, the group was frustrated at the lack of communication and barred him from the process.
Coxon (far left) with his Blur bandmates in 2012
The band’s first album in 12 years is set for release next month.
Blur played their upcoming The Magic Whip album in its entirety last night, during a special fanclub-only gig at London club Mode. 300 of the band’s most dieheard fans were in attendance for the intimate show, as the band showcased their first LP in 12 years track by track.
Cover art for Blur's The Magic Whip
Opening the gig singer Damon Albarn addressed the crowd saying, "So obviously, we're going to play our new record The Magic Whip in sequence from beginning to end. Are you ready?” The band then launched into opening track 'Lonesome Street’.
Damon Albarn - Photographs from the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize which Edinburgh based Hip-Hop band 'Young Fathers' took away the nights main award at The Roundhouse in London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 29th October 2014
The nominations are out, but which of the twelve nominees stands the best chance of winning?
The 24th edition of the annual Barclaycard Mercury Prize is due to be held on Wednesday 29th October at London’s Roundhouse.
Last week we brought you our analysis of who we thought would make the dozen-strong shortlist from which the judges will pick the eventual winner. We got five out of the twelve correct, not bad as many pundits have expressed surprise at the relative obscurity of this year’s list in comparison to previous awards.
Only two of the nominated albums have reached the Number 1 spot in the UK Albums Chart, and only one nominee can realistically call himself a household name. There has also been a surprising snub for Sam Smith, who has made a huge impression on the British public’s imagination, with his debut album In The Lonely Hour sitting at the top the charts four months after its release.
Continue reading: Our Guide To This Year's Mercury Music Prize Nominations
East India Youth will go up against Damon Albarn and Royal Blood at the Mercury Music Prize ceremony.
The debut solo album from Damon Albarn has been nominated for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize 2014. The list of nominees - better than last year but still mostly uninspiring - also includes Kate Tempest, Royal Blood and Nick Mulvey. Hilariously, the Independent reports on Ed Sheeran and Lily Allen "missing out".
Damon Albarn is nominated for 'Everyday Robots'
This year's list of nominees also includes Anna Calvi, One Breath, Bombay Bicycle Club, So Long, See You Tomorrow, FKA Twigs, LP1, GoGo Penguin, v2.0, Jungle, Jungle, Polar Bear, In Each and Every One, Young Fathers, Dead.
Continue reading: East India Youth is Smart Bet For 'Mercury Music Awards' 2014
Albarn is thankful for the opportunity to showcase his new, non-festival friendly album
Damon Albarn isn’t exactly a stranger to playing in front of huge crowds at some of the world’s biggest music festivals, so hearing him thank Latitude for giving him a headline slot doesn’t quite add up. But the former Blue front man is thankful, and attributes his gratitude to Latitude – say it quickly, now quicker – for letting him headline the festival, despite his new solo effort being ‘slower’ than his previous sonic adventures.
Damon Albarn at the Brixton Academy, London
“They offered me the slot that I’ve got, based on me just playing my record, and I thought that was very brave of them, because it’s quite slow. For a festival, it’s quite a risky thing to play,” he admitted. “I’m not just playing that record, but that’d why I chose it,” he said, having agreed that Latitude was ‘the type’ of festival to try new things. “It’s sort of a local gig. Imagine if we’d have had something like this when I was a kid I’d have definitely been here, definitely.”
Continue reading: Latitude Gratitude: Damon Albarn is Thankful of "Brave" Festival