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Blur Biography

Home > Music > B > Blur > Biography

Birth Place: London, England
Years Active: 1989–2003, 2009–present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Britpop, Indie Rock

Blur are an English alternative rock band. Formed in London in 1989 as Seymour, the group consists of singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree.

Their debut album “Leisure” was released in August 1991 in the United Kingdom via Food Records, and peaked at #7 on the U.K. Albums Chart. It was released in the U.S. a month later with a different track listing. The album was certified gold in the U.K. The album was released during the waning days of the Madchester period in the UK and as a result Blur and Leisure were seen as catching the end of a trend.

With the release of their second album “Modern Life Is Rubbish” in 1993, Blur would drastically reinvent themselves. The band incorporated influences from traditional British guitar pop groups such as The Kinks and Small Faces, and the resulting sound was melodic and lushly produced, featuring brass, woodwind and backing vocalists. “Modern Life Is Rubbish” was a moderate chart success in the UK. The album peaked at #15, while the singles taken from the album, "For Tomorrow," "Chemical World" and "Sunday Sunday," charted in the Top 30.

1994’s “Parklife” returned Blur to prominence in the U.K., helped by its four hit singles, "Girls & Boys," "End of a Century," "Parklife" and "To the End." Certified quadruple platinum in the U.K., in the year following its release the U.K. #1 album came to define the emerging Britpop scene.

“The Great Escape” followed in 1995, again topping the U.K. Albums chart. It was their first album to crack the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums chart, reaching #150. The album was certified triple platinum in U.K. The album continued the band's run of inventive hit singles, with "Country House" (their first #1 single), "The Universal," "Stereotypes" and "Charmless Man."

Released in 1997, their self-titled album, “Blur” reached the top of the U.K. Albums chart. “Blur” was also a hit in the U.S., with the single "Song 2" becoming a hit there and the album being certified gold. It also spawned several hit singles in the U.K., most notably "Beetlebum" and "Song 2."

1999’s “13” saw the band moving further away from their Britpop past into more cerebral and denser musical territory. The album reached #1 on the U.K. Albums chart and #80 on the U.S. Billboard 200. “13” spawned three hit singles in, "Tender," "Coffee & TV" and "No Distance Left to Run." The album was certified platinum in the U.K.

In May 2002, Coxon left Blur during the recording of their next album.

Containing electronic sounds and more minimal guitar work, the album was marked by Albarn's growing interest in hip hop and African music.

2003’s “Think Tank” represented a major musical change for the group with experimental and World Music elements, marked by Albarn's growing interest in hip hop and African music, being added to the usual Britpop palette. “Think Tank” became their fifth consecutive U.K. #1 album and managed Blur's highest U.S. position at #56.

After a 2003 tour without Coxon, Blur did no studio work or touring as a band, as members engaged in other projects. In 2009 Blur reunited, with Coxon back in the fold, for a series of successful concerts.

In January 2010, “No Distance Left to Run,” a documentary about the band, was released in cinemas and a month later on DVD. In December 2010, “No Distance Left to Run” was nominated as Best Long Form Music Video for the 53rd Grammy Awards. It was the first time Blur was nominated for a Grammy Award.