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50 Things You Didn't Know About Blur

  • Pivotal Britpop classic 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' turns 23 this year, an excellent excuse to geek out over Blur trivia. Did you know… 1. When told to change their name from Seymour, the band chose Blur from a list which also included Sensitize, Whirlpool and The Shining Path. The former two names were later used for other bands – Whirlpool featured a young Gem Archer, now of Beady Eye.

    Photo: Press/Zanna

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 2. Graham first noticed Damon when he was playing Officer Krupke in a school production of West Side Story.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 3. Among the rejected alternative titles for the 'Parklife' album were 'Magic Arrows', 'Sport' and 'Soft Porn'.

    Photo: Press/Danny North

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 4. Rejected titles for '13', meanwhile, included 'When You're Walking Backwards To Hell No-One Can See You, Only God'.

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    Added: 29 May 2012

  • 5. 'Parklife' was inspired by Damon reading Martin Amis' dystopian vision of England in London Fields, and was originally planned to have a cover shot of a fruit and veg cart.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Jul 2011

  • 6. The band claim that they wrote their third single 'Bang' in just 15 minutes.

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    Added: 02 Nov 2011

  • 7. 'Song 2', the second song on both 'Blur' and their greatest hits compilation, is two minutes and two seconds long and was played on two drumkits, with Dave Rowntree and Graham Coxon hammering out the beat simultaneously.

    Photo: Press/Kevin Westenberg

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 8. 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' was originally a piece of graffiti the band spotted on a wall on Bayswater Road near Marble Arch. The album's working title was 'Britain Versus America'.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 9. Annoyed that the brilliant 'Popscene' hadn't been a chart hit, Blur refused label requests to include it on the UK version of 'Modern Life Is Rubbish', with Coxon claiming "If you didn't fucking want it in the first place you're not going to get it now."

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 10. Damon's first band was a synth pop duo called Two's A Crowd, which he joined after working as a tea boy in the Beat Factory recording studio.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 06 Sep 2012

  • 11. Damon's first ever gig was by The Osmonds. He was six.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 12. The success of 'Parklife' gave Damon Albarn panic attacks.

    Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

    Added: 03 Jul 2012

  • 13. 'The Universal' was originally a ska song.

    Photo: Press/Tony Woolliscroft

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 14. When Graham didn't show up for a lip-synced Italian TV performance in 1996, he was replaced by a cardboard cut-out.

    Photo: Press/Nels Israelson

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 15. The cover art of '13' is a 1996 oil painting by Graham called Apprentice.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 16. When first asked to work with Blur on 'Think Tank', Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, told them that all he wanted to add was feedback.

    Photo: Press/Paul Postle

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 17. Aside from Fatboy Slim, Blur also worked with The Dust Brothers and The Neptunes on 'Think Tank', but none of their work made it to the finished record.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 18. All of the vocals for 'Think Tank' were recorded outside.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 19. The Banksy cover art for 'Think Tank' sold for £75,000 at auction in 2007.

    Photo: Press/Rankin

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 20. Damon has no middle name.

    Photo: Press/Tony Woolliscroft

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 21. Alex claimed he only joined Blur because Damon had access to free studio time. "I thought he was a bit of a wanker," he said, "but he had the keys to a recording studio."

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 22. Playing the Duchess Of York venue in Leeds before their breakthrough with 'There's No Other Way', Damon told the crowd, "We're from London," only for one crowd member to shout "Well fuck off back there, you cock."

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 23. On 'Leisure', the word 'you' appears 82 times, and words rhyming with 'day' end lines 35 times.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 24. 'Birthday' was written the day after a monumentally drunk night out that saw Graham and Alex rolling around on the floor shouting, "We are art!" and Damon spend the night in a police cell with a Gurkha.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 25. 'Bad Day' is about Damon suffering from a streptococcal viral infection.

    Photo: Richard Johnson/NME

    Added: 13 Aug 2012

  • 26. The percussive beat to 'Miss America' from the 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' album was the sound of Graham, pissed as a bastard, nagging on a chair leg.

    Photo: Press/Paul Spencer

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 27. During the Rollercoaster tour of 1992, Graham drank a bottle of vodka a night.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 28. In their Seymour days, the band were maced by bouncers at London venue Dingwalls and ended the night necking vodka in A&E. The experience inspired 'Popscene' B-side 'Mace'.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 29. One-time Blur record boss Dave Balfe reportedly hated many of the band's more frivolous songs, saying of 'Sunday Sunday', "When was the last time you heard a hit single that sped up in the middle?"

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 30. On various Blur songs, Graham has played drums, Moog, saxophone and Black & Decker drill.

    Photo: Press/Linda Brownlee

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 31. Because of its ELO-style structure, Jeff Lynne was considered to produce 'For Tomorrow'.

    Photo: Press/Paul Spencer

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 32. To get somewhat technical, the interval used in the bassline of 'Parklife' is known amongst musos as 'the Devil's Interval'. It was made illegal by the church in the Middle Ages in some areas of Europe.

    Photo: Press/Danny North

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 33. Alex was uncertain about letting the Pet Shop Boys remix 'Girls & Boys', even though they wanted no fee. "It's like giving your dog to someone to take for a walk," he said, "and when they bring it back it's a different dog."

    Photo: Richard Johnson/NME

    Added: 13 Aug 2012

  • 34. The lyrics for 'Trouble In Message Centre' were pieced together from phrases Damon could see around his hotel room in New York's Wellington Hotel, mostly on the phone.

    Photo: Press/Pennie Smith

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 35. In honour of this, Damon insisted on including the hotel room receipt for his stay on the 'Parklife' album artwork. Unfortunately the bill itemised a phone call he'd made to video director Kevin Godley, including the number. Godley was inundated with calls and had to change his number.

    Photo: Richard Johnson/NME

    Added: 13 Aug 2012

  • 36. 'London Loves' features a sample of a San Francisco groupie.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 16 Aug 2011

  • 37. Damon recorded the vocal to 'To The End' while stoned.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 38. 'Magic America' is named after a porn channel on Italian TV.

    Photo: Press/Rachel Wright

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 39. Although he has no recollection of it himself, Damon phoned the studio from a hospital bed, having just come round from a hernia operation, to woozily explain how he wanted 'This Is A Low' to be mixed.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 40. Damon claims he's only made two bad records, 'Leisure' – which he described as "awful" – and 'The Great Escape' – which he thinks is "messy".

    Photo: PA

    Added: 02 Nov 2011

  • 41. On the demo version of 'To The End', Damon's then-girlfriend Justine Frischmann sang the French parts.

    Photo: Press/Linda Brownlee

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 42. When Alex heard the final mix of the song, he openly wept.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 43. Damon's parents, on their first move into London in the early 60s, rented a flat in Emperor's Gate, Kensington next door to John Lennon.

    Photo: Press

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 44. When Beavis & Butthead watched the nature-themed video for 'Chemical World', famed wit and raconteur Beavis claimed he wanted to urinate on Damon Albarn.

    Photo: Richard Johnson/NME

    Added: 13 Aug 2012

  • 45. Graham believes the band's covers of old music hall sing-alongs 'Daisy Bell' and 'Let's All Go Down The Strand' were the lowest point in Blur's career.

    Photo: Richard Johnson/NME

    Added: 13 Aug 2012

  • 46. The sleeve shot for the single 'Girls & Boys' was taken from a Durex packet.

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    Added: 10 Aug 2012

  • 47. Thom Yorke told a radio show in 2003 that he wished he'd written 'Girls & Boys', calling Blur "bastards" for getting to it first.

    Photo: Press/Linda Brownlee

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 48. In March 2005 a candlestick worth £500 which featured in the video for 'Country House' was sold by eBay auction. For £92.

    Photo: PA

    Added: 13 Mar 2013

  • 49. 'Song 2' has been covered by a wide array of cheese-mongers including Plain White Ts, Avril Lavigne, My Chemical Romance, AFI and Robbie Williams.

    Photo: Press/Danny North

    Added: 12 Mar 2013

  • 50. When the band were filmed on night-vision camera sleeping for the 'No Distance Left To Run' video, Alex remembers dreaming he was in a German karaoke bar, and turned into a leopard "for a minute".

    Photo: Press/Tony Woolliscroft

    Added: 12 Mar 2013