Blur are an English rock band, formed in London in 1988 as Seymour. The group consists of singer/keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist/singer Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree. Blur’s debut album Leisure (1991) incorporated the sounds of Madchester and shoegazing. Following a stylistic change influenced by English guitar pop groups such as the Kinks, the Beatles and XTC, Blur released Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995). As a result, the band helped to popularise the Britpop genre and achieved mass popularity in the UK, aided by a chart battle with rival band Oasis in 1995 dubbed “The Battle of Britpop”.
In recording their follow-up, Blur (1997), the band underwent another reinvention, showing influence from the lo-fi style of American indie rock groups. The album, including the “Song 2” single, brought Blur mainstream success in the United States. Their next album, 13 (1999) saw the band members experimenting with electronic and gospel music, and featured more personal lyrics from Albarn. In May 2002, Coxon left Blur during the recording of their seventh album Think Tank (2003). Containing electronic sounds and more minimal guitar work, the album was marked by Albarn’s growing interest in hip hop and African music. After a 2003 tour without Coxon, Blur did no studio work or touring as a band, as members engaged in other projects. In late 2008, Blur announced his return with Coxon back in the fold, for a series of concerts in the following year, and have continued to release several singles and retrospective releases, as well as tour internationally. In 2012, Blur received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
Childhood friends Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon met Alex James when they began studying at London’s Goldsmiths College in 1988. Albarn was in a group named Circus, who were joined by drummer Dave Rowntree that October. Circus requested the services of Coxon after the departure of their guitarist. That December, Circus fired two members and James joined as the group’s bassist. This new group named themselves Seymour in December 1988, inspired by J.D. Salinger’s Seymour: An Introduction. The group performed live for the first time in summer 1989. In November, Food Records’ A&R representative Andy Ross attended a Seymour performance that convinced him to court the group for his label. The only concern held by Ross and Food was that they disliked the band’s name. Food drew up a list of alternatives, from which the band decided on “Blur”. Food Records finally signed the newly christened band in March 1990.