amon Albarn was
born to a hippy family in Leytonstone, East London. His
mother, Hazel Albarn worked as a stage designer for Joan
Littlewood's theatre company at the Theatre Royal
Stratford East in London and was working on Mrs Wilson's
Diary just before Damon was born. Damon's father, an
artist Keith Albarn was mainly involved in TV arts
programming and was interested in designing and making
modern furniture. He eventually became the manager of art
jazz-rock group Soft Machine. Hazel Albarn came from
Lincolnshire and Keith Albarn from Nottinghamshire. When
they had met each other, they decided to move to London
to experience its wide cultural-scene. When Damon was
growing up, his parents listened mostly to old blues,
Indian ragas and African music. Damon didn't apparently
like much of them. His sister, Jessica (an artist, too)
was born in 1971.
Damon was a relatively normal
child. He was keen on football and his room was filled
with the fossils. Since the age of six he has been
wearing the glass beads, which he got from his mother.
"They give me luck" he has later said. He was
attending the George Tomlinson Primary School and at the
later age moved to the Stanway Comprehensive School.
Ten years after Damon's birth
Albarns moved to Colchester, Essex, where Keith Albarn
had got a new job. Around the time of moving Damon was
spending three months in Turkey with family friends. When
he came back he began studying violin and piano and got
interested in drama. Because of his unconventional
background he was considered weird and vain and often got
called "posh stroke gay" at Stanway
Comprehensive. "I was weirdo", he recalls. At
the time he was really keen on drama and took part in
many school plays and quickly became one of the school's
"stars". Damon was also interested in composing
music and one of his compositions won a heat in the
nationwide Young Composer of the Year competition. He has
later claimed that classical composer Kurt Weill's music
had a more effect on his musical development than any pop
At the age of 12 Damon met a year
younger Graham Coxon. "Your brogues are crap, mate.
Look, mine are the proper sort" were Damon's exact
first words to Graham. They both liked The Jam, The Human
League, XTC and Madness and soon became the best
One of the first bands Damon was
involved along with Graham was The Aftermath, which
didn't get anywhere. The Aftermath's follower was Real
Lives, where Damon was on the vocals and played the
piano. The band made a few appearances in local pubs and
clubs without any real success.
In the mid-eighties Damon lost his
interest to music temporary, concentrated wholly in
drama, and moved to Debden to study at the East 15 Drama
School. After a year he thought he was "the worst
actor in the world" and decided to go back home. At
the time he was very depressed and having a bad time. He
took a part-time music course at the Goldsmiths College
in South London, where he met Graham again and worked as
a barman in London's Portobello Hotel. Later, he worked
at the Le Croissaint at Euston Station in London and soon
after as a tea boy at the Beat Factory studio, owned by
Graeme Holdaway. At nights, he worked
on his music at the studio.
With the help of the Beat Factory
he got involved in an odd synth-band called Two's A Crowd
with Sam Vamplew. After writing a few songs, Damon
withdrew the band and joined Circus in 1988. Circus was
formed initially by Damon's college friend Tom Aitkenhead
and Eddie Deedigan, who both quit the band later. Soon
guitarist Graham Coxon, drummer Dave Rowntree and finally bassist
Alex James were picked up to Circus. Due to Damon's
accelerated musical development, Circus experienced many
radical musical changes. The band evolved into Seymour,
which later changed its name to Blur.
Until around 1998 Damon had a
relationship with Elastica's Justine Frischmann. He is
now involved with an artist Suzi Winstanley. On October
2, 1999, they got a baby, named Missy.
Source: 3862 Days by
For the full list and details of Damon's musical
appearances outside Blur, see
Damon Albarn Discography.
Song List also lists appearances outside Blur.
Damon Albarn and
cartoonist Jamie Hewlett are the creators of the cartoon band
Gorillaz; Damon writes the songs and provides vocals on the majority
of them while Jamie directs the videos and draws the band. Gorillaz
has been a big success around the world selling around 17 million copies
of their studio albums. As of January 2017, Damon is putting
finishing touches on the new Gorillaz album,
scheduled for later this year.
Damon collaborated with
Michael Nyman and recorded a soundtrack for
Ravenous in 1998.
A year later, he worked with
Einar Örn Benediktsson on the soundtrack for 101 Reykjavik.
He also wrote and recorded tracks for Ordinary Decent Criminal
penned "Closet Romantic" for
Trainspotting. More recently,
Damon's Electric Wave Bureau group has scored the soundtrack for the
British films Broken, Swim the Channel and the upcoming Paddington
Mali Music (2002):
The album based on recordings Damon made whilst visiting Mali on a
trip for Oxfam. Released through his co-founded world music label Honest Jon's.
Africa Express (2006-): A unique collaboration project between African and Western musicians.
by Damon, the project intends to show Western musicians how rich the
African music scene is. So far, there have been around twenty Africa
Express shows in Europe and Africa. Western
artists who have been involved in the project include Norman
Cook, The Magic Numbers, Franz Ferdinand and Hard-Fi. In 2013, the first ever Africa
Express album Maison Des Jeunes was recorded in Mali.
Democrazy (2003): A low-profile limited
edition solo record released through
Honest Jon's. The album was compiled of raw demos Damon recorded on a
four-track in hotel rooms during Blur's Think Tank US tour.
(2014): Damon's first proper solo
album, produced by Richard Russell, was released in April
2014. The album has been described as his most personal work yet
and features guest appearances from Brian Eno, Natasha Khan
and the Leytonstone City Mission
Good, The Bad & The Queen (2007): Damon is the
frontman behind The Good, The Bad & The Queen, the London-themed album project
with drummer Tony
Allen, bassist Paul Simonon and guitarist Simon Tong.
The project originated from the Nigeria sessions with Tony Allen and
Rocket Juice & The Moon (2011-): A low-profile
afrobeat/funk supergroup consisting of Damon,
Flea and Tony Allen. Although officially announced in 2011, the
group has been together since 2008's Africa Express gigs. Rocket Juice & The Moon's self-titled studio album
was out in 2012.
Monkey: Journey To The West
(2007-2013): A Chinese modern opera featuring an eclectic score by
Damon and visuals by Jamie Hewlett. The opera debuted at the
Manchester International Festival 2007 and the album based on the
score was released the next year. In the summer of 2013, the opera was revived
for a three-week residency in New York.
Dr Dee (2011-2012):
Officially described as "An English Opera",
Dr Dee is a stage show about the life of John Dee. Composed and
performed by Damon Albarn and directed by
Rufus Norris, it premiered at the Manchester International
The soundtrack for the opera was released in the following year.
Damon's fresh musical wonder.land was premiered at Manchester
International Festival in July 2015. The musical is a very modern take
Alice in Wonderland and is directed by Rufus Norris. The
soundtrack of the musical was out in April 2016.
- In the 1990s, he worked with
Matt Sharp on a Gary Numan tribute album and The Rentals'
Seven More Minutes.
- Acted in the movie
Face (1997) and lend
his voice to a character in the
Icelandic animation Anna and the Moods
- Fatboy Slim's album
Palookaville features Damon's vocals on "Put It Back Together".
Also, the last two Massive Attack albums (100th Window and
Heligoland) include his contributions.
- Damon has done production
work for other artists. In 2008, he produced a
few tracks for Amadou & Mariam's Welcome To Mali album. More recently, he has co-produced Bobby Womack's
comeback album The Bravest Man In The Universe with Richard