10 Things You Didn’t Know About Blur
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.