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Damon Albarn Biography

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Damon Albarn In-depth Biography

The frontman for Brit-pop icons Blur, singer Damon Albarn was born March 23, 1968, in London. The product of a bohemian family, as a youth he studied piano, guitar, and violin and at 12 befriended one Graham Coxon, a fellow student at the Stanway Comprehensive School. Albarn later studied drama before joining the little-known synth pop outfit Two's a Crowd; at 15, he also won the regional heat in the Young Composer of the Year contest. While a student at Goldsmith University, he again crossed paths with guitarist Coxon, and together they formed the band the Circus; with the additions of bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree, the group rechristened itself Seymour before finally settling on Blur upon signing to Food Records. Their debut single, "She's So High," cracked the U.K. Top 50, while the follow-up, "There's No Other Way," went Top Ten; however, the baggy beats and shoegazer-inspired textures of Blur's 1991 debut album Leisure earned the band unkind critical comparisons to the dying Madchester scene, and with the follow-up, 1993's Modern Life Is Rubbish, they consciously set out to evoke a more traditional pop sound. With 1994's Parklife, Albarn's songs revealed an altogether new sophistication, his wry social commentaries and clever melodies evoking the great British pop tradition of bands like the Kinks and the Jam; the album made Blur the most popular and most influential band in England and captured a rabid cult following abroad as well. Although chief rivals Oasis quickly usurped Blur's dominance, their 1995 The Great Escape debuted at number one. Still, when the record slipped down the charts, the band was written off by the music press and spent much of 1996 in seclusion, although during that time Albarn made his solo debut with "Closet Romantic," his contribution to the Trainspotting soundtrack. Blur's 1997 self-titled LP restored the band's luster as the single "Song 2" became an American hit; that same year, Albarn made his film debut in Antonia Bird's Face. Blur's 13 followed in 1999. In 2000, Albarn debuted Gorillaz, his successful "virtual hip-hop group," which released three albums between 2001 and 2005. Other Albarn-driven collaborative projects came from Mali Music and the Good, the Bad & the Queen, which released albums in 2002 and 2007, respectively. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

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