Damon Albarn and Ghostigital protesting together: “Stop the dams” (for Aluminium Plant) Concert Laugardalshöll (Reykjavik, 2006)
Sorry for the bad quality. Also on stage, the son of Einar Orn Benediktsson.
Damon Albarn in Wikipedia
Born: March 23rd,1968
Origin: Leytonstone, London, England
Acts: Blur – Gorillaz – The Good, the Bad and the Queen
Damon Albarn is an English singer-songwriter who gained fame as the lead singer of rock band Blur. Though Blur has not disbanded, of late Albarn has been more active as a member of Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen project.
Albarn’s early life was spent living in Leytonstone with his parents Hazel and Keith and his sister Jessica. He has described a very liberal and hippy-like upbringing. His family then lived in Turkey for a few months. Whilst living in Leytonstone Albarn attended George Tomlinson primary school. When he turned ten, his family moved to Aldham, Essex, England due to the needs of his father’s teaching career. Albarn then attended Stanway Comprehensive School. He met future Blur guitarist Graham Coxon at school and found they both liked similar bands, such as the Jam, the Kinks, and the Human League.
After finishing secondary school, Albarn moved to London to attend the East 15 Acting School, losing contact with Coxon. He concluded after one year’s stay that he was a terrible actor (although he did star in the 1997 film Face) and instead took up writing and performing music. Some of the songs he wrote in his early recording days later became Blur songs, such as “Birthday” on their debut album, Leisure. At the age of fifteen, he won an award for “Young Composer of the Year”.
In 1988, Albarn enrolled at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, London, England; he took a part-time course which he claims he did “just to get on campus”. There, he met up with Coxon once more. After recording a number of demo tapes together, the two formed “Circus,” at which point Coxon introduced Albarn to Alex James. With the addition of Dave Rowntree, the band began playing as “Seymour”. Before long the band was signed to Food Records and changed its name to Blur.
Albarn and Blur gained commercial and critical success on the back of 1994s Parklife, and Albarn became one of the leading lights in the Britpop movement. However, their success also lay partly in a well documented feud with fellow Britpop band Oasis. Though at the 1995 BRIT Awards Albarn had announced he thought Blur’s “Best Band” award should be shared with Oasis, by 1996 relations had soured. The differing styles of the bands, Oasis being gritty, working-class, and Northern, and Blur being art rock, middle-class, and Southern, coupled with their prominence within the Britpop movement, led the British media to seize upon the supposed rivalry between the bands, and Albarn, along with Alex James, exchanged insults with Oasis’ Noel and Liam Gallagher through the press. Noel Gallagher courted controversy, telling The Observer that he hoped Albarn and Alex James would “catch AIDS and die”.
The rivalry culminated in the so-called “Battle of Britpop” which saw Blur move the release date of their single “Country House” to coincide with the release of Oasis “Roll With It”. This sparked a media frenzy, with Albarn being interviewed on the BBC news.
Gallagher maintains that the rivalry was conceived by the magazine NME and members of Blur’s entourage as a ploy to raise their respective profiles on the back of Oasis’ success and that since this point he has had no respect for either party. However, Albarn has suggested the roots of the feud were much more personal. Albarn is now reluctant to talk about the feud, feeling the whole affair – his own actions included – were embarrassing.
Albarn in 1997’s video for “Song 2”
As of 2006 Blur has released seven full-length albums, five of which went to #1 in the United Kingdom and all of which reached the top 15. Albarn has written the lyrics to nearly every song released by the band since their formation. He had publicly stated he was waiting for the return of Graham Coxon, who left the band prior to the release of Think Tank, to produce more Blur material; however, Coxon has refused to return, and Albarn stated in September 2005 that he will play guitar on the next Blur record. Albarn Quoted, “If Coxon won’t return then I’ll be playing guitar but it’ll just be fast, punk songs. Why don’t I get another guitarist? Because there’s none better than Coxon.”
Albarn formed virtual cartoon rock band Gorillaz with Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett in 1998. With a decidedly ambiguous line-up, the group has released two full-length studio albums to date. Their music has featured contributions from Dan the Automator, Danger Mouse, Simon Tong (who also played guitar for Blur in live performances), Miho Hatori, Sweetie Irie, De La Soul, Bootie Brown, MF Doom, Redman, Tina Weymouth, Roots Manuva, Neneh Cherry, Rosie Wilson, Martina Topley-Bird, Dennis Hopper, Ike Turner, Shaun Ryder and Del tha Funkee Homosapien among others.
Gorillaz and Demon Days have done well in both the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as their respective hit singles “Clint Eastwood”, “Feel Good Inc.” ,”19-2000″, “DARE”, “Dirty Harry” and “Kids With Guns / El Mañana”.
Albarn released Mali Music in 2002. As the name suggests, the album’s recording sessions were done in Mali, a trip he made to support Oxfam in 2000. He has also visited Nigeria to record music with African drummer Tony Allen. Albarn says he would like to produce a Blur album in Baghdad as he “likes the Iraqi style of music”.
He also released Democrazy in 2003, a collection of demos he recorded while staying in hotel rooms on the U.S. portion of Blur’s tour for Think Tank.
Albarn has also appeared on other unrelated works. His song “Closet Romantic” appeared on the soundtrack for Trainspotting alongside an early Blur recording, “Sing”. Fatboy Slim’s 2004 release Palookaville featured Albarn’s vocals on the song “Put It Back Together”. Albarn provided the voiceover intro and backing vocals in the song “Time Keeps On Slipping” for the rap concept album Deltron 3030, and featured on the track “Lovage (Love That Lovage, Baby)” for the Lovage album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By. Both albums were produced by Dan the Automator, who also produced Gorillaz’ debut album. Albarn also composed the score with collaboration by Michael Nyman for the 1999 movie “Ravenous” with Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. It is described as “an eerie mix of symphonic orchestrations and clunky ragtime” which went arguably well with the movie’s cannibalistic themes. In 2000, he composed the main part of the soundtrack for the crime comedy Ordinary Decent Criminal.
The Good, the Bad and the Queen
In May 2006, NME reported that Albarn was working with Danger Mouse on his first solo album, tentatively titled The Good, the Bad and the Queen. However, in July 2006, NME reported that those plans had been switched to the formation of a new band titled The Good, the Bad and the Queen. This proved to be inaccurate, as Albarn and other members of the group have indicated that The Good, the Bad and the Queen is the name of the album and not the band itself (which will remain unnamed). The group’s line-up is composed of Albarn, former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve/Blur/Gorillaz guitarist Simon Tong, and drummer Tony Allen of Fela Kuti’s band, Africa 70.
The first single by the line-up, “Herculean”, was released in late October 2006, and peaked at #22 in the UK Singles Chart. A second single, “Kingdom of Doom”, and the band’s debut album were then released in January 2007. That single fared slightly better than “Herculean”, peaking at #20, while the album peaked at #2 in the UK Albums Chart and went gold during its first week of release in the UK. “Green Fields” was released as the third single from the album in April 2007, just missing out on the Top 50.
Monkey: Journey To The West
In October 2006, it was announced that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett will work together on their first major work since Gorillaz, a project for the Manchester International Festival in Manchester, UK. Monkey: Journey To The West will be a re-working of the ancient Chinese legend Journey to the West. Albarn will write the score while Hewlett will design the set and costumes. The show will also feature 45 Chinese circus acrobats, Shaolin monks and Chinese vocalists, and will be performed at the Palace Theatre.
It’s Albarn and Hewlett’s second collaboration with the newly-created Manchester International Festival. In November 2005, they staged the first-ever live performances of Demon Days Live involving many of the artists who had played on the successful Demon Days album, as a launch event for the festival.
Albarn had a long-standing relationship with Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann. His involvement with her profoundly influenced his songwriting in Blur in the late 1990s. “Beetlebum,” opening track and chart-topping hit single from Blur, is said to be about Frischmann’s heroin addiction. 13, Blur’s sixth album, presents strong overtones brought about by their break-up. He now lives in Bayswater, London with artist Suzi Winstanley, and their daughter Missy was born in 1999.
Albarn is outspokenly anti-war and has criticized the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2002 he took out full page advertisements in the NME challenging the need for war, along with Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, which they paid for personally. Albarn contributed backing vocals to a song on Massive Attack’s 100th Window, released the following year.
In 2005, Albarn, among others, criticized the London Live 8 concert for not featuring enough black artists; this resulted in the addition of Ms. Dynamite, Snoop Dogg, and Youssou N’Dour to the programme. Albarn said he didn’t want to perform in the concert because he thought it was too “exclusive” and may have been motivated by self-gain.
In the nineties he spent a good deal of time in Reykjavík and for a time he became something of a permanent fixture in the “Kaffibarinn“, a bar/café of which he was part owner. All its regular patrons were full of stories of his drinking abilities, considered somewhat impressive by the local Icelanders. He currently owns a house in Grafarvogur, a suburb of Reykjavík. He composed the soundtrack to the 2000 Icelandic film 101 Reykjavík.
Albarn has on numerous occasions used the alias “Dan Abnormal” (an anagram of his name), most famously in the title of a song on Blur’s 1995 album The Great Escape. It can also be found on Elastica’s eponymous album in the credits section, ‘cheers to Dan Abnormal for extra keyboard on tracks 4, 8 and 11.’
Albarn was recently nominated as one of PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarians.
November 2006’s special edition of Q Magazine to represent its anniversary are publishing 20 different version of the magazine containing a cover of a different musical legend. Damon appears on the cover of one of the 20 editions.
Their album, The Good, the Bad and the Queen was the first album released by EMI as a digital music download without Digital Rights Management.
Blur, Gorillaz and The Good The Bad and The Queen
Ravenous (movie soundtrack) 1999 Written and performed by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman.
Ordinary Decent Criminal (movie soundtrack) 2000 Written and performed by Damon Albarn and others.
101 Reykjavík (movie soundtrack) – 4 March 2002
Mali Music – 15 April 2002
Democrazy (10″ vinyl release) – 8 December 2003