Raised in Leytonstone, London and around Colchester, Essex, Albarn started learning guitar, piano and violin in his youth. Albarn attended Stanway Comprehensive School where he met with future alternative rock-star, Graham Coxon. After studying Drama and playing in short lived synth pop outfit, Two's a Crowd, Albarn formed a band with Coxon which, after various incarnations, evolved into Blur with additional members, Alex James and Dave Rowntree.
After Blur's debut album, Leisure, and its associated tour received mixed reviews, Blur became influenced by British Classic Rock bands. Mid 1990s releases Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape, helped Blur to achieve mass popularity in the UK, spearheading the Britpop movement.
Albarn founded Gorillaz with Jamie Hewlett in 1998. Gorillaz is a "virtual band" consisting of four animated members: 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. The music is influenced by alternative rock, hip hop, electronica, dub and pop. Although Albarn is the only permanent musical contributor, the albums feature many collaborations from a wide range of artists. Gorillaz are cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band.
Other musical ventures include work with African musicians in aid of the charity, Oxfam, forming part of supergroups (The Good, the Bad and the Queen and Rocket Juice & the Moon) and work on film soundtracks. He is currently working on a solo studio album. Albarn has also ventured into the world of opera with Doctor Dee and Monkey: Journey to the West as well as acting in the Antonia Bird film, Face. Albarn's work has gained critical and commercial success, with many singles and albums which he has been involved with charting at number one, both in the UK and internationally.
Albarn was voted the fourth-greatest frontman of all time in a 2010 UK Poll for Q Music magazine.
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