Britpop legends Blur formed in London in 1988, originally under the moniker of Seymour. The group are comprised of singer Damon Albarn, lead guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree.
Childhood friends Albarn and Coxon met James while studying at Goldsmiths University in London in 1988. Albarn, who was already a memebr of Circus along with Rowntree, asked Coxon and James to join and changed their name to Blur. They quickly gained attention from Food Records and signed a record deal in 1990.
Blur went on to become one of the key names in the Britpop movement of the 1990s and their rivalry with Oasis crossed over from the music press into the mainstream: a chart battle between the two bands in 1995, in which Blur’s single ‘Country House’ went head-to-head with Oasis’s ‘Roll With It’, garnered national news coverage and was dubbed ‘The Battle Of Britpop’. Blur eventually came out on top although their subsequent album ‘The Great Escape’ had lower sales than Oasis’s ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)?’.
The band’s debut album, ‘Lesiure’ was released in 1991 and entered the UK Albums Chart at Number Seven, with Albarn’s songwriting earning comparisons with The Kinks. Their follow-up ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, released the following year, was less commercially successful and led to the band briefly falling out of favour with the music press.
By 1994, however, their fortunes had been revived with the huge success of ‘Parklife’, due partly to the popularity of the title track and ‘Girls And Boys’. Enjoying newfound fame due to their rivalry with Oasis, 1995’s ‘The Great Escape’ became their second UK Number One Album and was described as “spectacularly accomplished” and “inspirational” by NME.
In the following years, reports of disagreements and tension between members of Blur began to grow – in particular, guitarist Graham Coxon was said to be increasingly disillusioned with his bandmates. 1997’s ‘Blur’ saw them reject their Britpop influences for a more lo-fi, US rock-influenced sound, while 1999’s ’13’ was produced by dance musician William Orbit and was widely considered to be their most experimental effort yet.
The band’s last album, ‘Think Tank’, was released in 2003. Recording sessions were disrupted by arguments between Coxon and the rest of the band, and he left halfway through making the album. Upon release, ‘Think Tank’ was regarded as one of Blur’s most interesting and challenging albums, influenced by electronica, jazz, dub, hip hop and African music, and also inspired lyrically by Albarn’s opposition to the Iraq war. The LP became Blur’s fifth consecutive UK Number One.
Although Blur have not released a studio album since ‘Think Tank’, Blur reformed for a reunion concert in 2009 at London’s Hyde Park and headlined Glastonbury the same year. In July 2012, meanwhile, the band released two new singles, ‘Under The Westway’ and ‘The Puritan’, and also headlined a series of European gigs.
It was reported that Blur had begun work on a new studio album in 2012, but producer William Orbit subsequently revealed that Albarn had put an end to the recording sessions. Blur headlined the Olympic closing ceremony in Hyde Park in August 2012 and a live recording of the event, titled Parklive, was released the following week.