50 Things You Didn’t Know About Blur

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Press/Zanna
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.

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

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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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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.

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

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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.

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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'.

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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."

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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.

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

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

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Press/Tony Woolliscroft
13. 'The Universal' was originally a ska song.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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20. Damon has no middle name.

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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."

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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."

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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.

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

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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.

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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?"

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

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

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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".

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Press/Tony Woolliscroft
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".
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