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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Blur

Blur
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

You probably know that Blur frontman Damon Albarn also fronts the cartoon group Gorillaz. But did you know that he first started writing his very British-sounding songs to fight homesickness while on tour in the U.S.? It’s one of the 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Blur.


Seymour JD Salinger

They originally named themselves after a J.D. Salinger story

 
 

Before they were Blur, the group was called Seymour, after a 1963 novella by 'The Catcher in the Rye' author J.D. Salinger. Their record company, Food (which knew something about awful names), made them change it.

 
Change

They toured the U.S. for the first time after realizing they were in debt

 
 

Blur had no desire to tour the U.S. ... until 1992, when they realized they were broke and needed to make some quick cash to repay their debts, which were closing in on $100,000.

 
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Damon Albarn started writing ‘British’ songs to combat homesickness

 
 

Things got so bad during their initial two-month tour of the U.S. in 1992 that Albarn started missing England. So he wrote a bunch of songs to remind him of home. They became the basis of their Britpop sound.

 
Stuart Nicol, Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Stuart Nicol, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Early on, the U.K. music press called them racists

 
 

The original press photo for 1993's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' featured the band dressed like skinheads with the words "British Image 1" painted behind them. Writers claimed the imagery was racist.

 
Getty Images
Getty Images

They released their first No. 1 single as a blow against Britpop rivals Oasis

 
 

In 1995, during the height of the Great Britpop War, Blur released 'Country House' on the same day Oasis released 'Roll With It.' Blur sold almost 60,000 more copies of their record, which went to No. 1.

 
Karl Walter, Getty Images
Karl Walter, Getty Images

Their guitarist hated Britpop and listened to U.S. indie bands in retaliation

 
 

Guitarist Graham Coxon hated that Blur were so closely tied to the relatively tame Britpop movement. So he listened almost exclusively to abrasive U.S. alternative bands like Pavement.

 
Blur Song 2

Their most popular song in the U.S. was making fun of U.S. music

 
 

'Song 2' (the "woo-hoo!" song) was written as a satire on the grunge scene that took over modern rock in the U.S. Ironically, the track became one of their highest-charting singles and their most well-known song.

 
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

A cardboard cutout of their guitarist was once used during a TV performance

 
 

During a 1996 appearance for an Italian TV show, guitarist Graham Coxon (and bassist Alex James) refused to show up for the lip-synched performance. So a cardboard cutout was used in his place.

 
NASA, Getty Images
NASA, Getty Images

They recorded a song for a space-exploration probe that got lost on Mars

 
 

In 2002, Blur recorded a song that would be played by a probe launched by the European Space Agency after it touched down on Mars. But the lander was lost on the planet and never recovered.

 
Christopher Lee, Getty Images
Christopher Lee, Getty Images

One of their biggest reunion shows was at the 2012 Summer Olympics

 
 

Since their split in 2003, the members of Blur have reunited for some shows from time to time. One of the largest was at last year's Summer Olympics in London, where they headlined a closing-ceremony concert.

 

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