Damon Albarn (born 23.3.1968)
Damon Albarn is a singer and musician. He is best known for his work with Blur and Gorillaz.
Damon Albarn: 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.
Damon Albarn: 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.
Damon Albarn: 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.