Damon Albarn OBE (born 23 March 1968) is an English-Icelandic musician, singer-songwriter and composer. He is the frontman of the rock band Blur and the co-creator and primary musical contributor of the virtual band Gorillaz.
Gorillaz are an English virtual band formed in 1998 by Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, from London. The band primarily consists of four fictional members: 2-D (vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and Russel Hobbs (drums). Their universe is presented in media such as music videos, interviews, comic strips and short cartoons. Gorillaz' music has featured collaborations with a wide range of featured artists, with Albarn as the only permanent musical contributor.
With Gorillaz, Albarn departed from the distinct Britpop sound of his band Blur, exploring a variety of musical styles including hip hop, electronic and world music. The band is essentially an outlet for Albarn to kick it with as many collaborators as possible. Each album features an array of eclectic features, ranging from Snoop Dogg to Lou Reed. In this sense, Albarn is a chameleon, choosing to hide behind a cartoon monkey and delving deeper and deeper into his own imagination.
Pinpointing exactly what it is that has kept his music fresh for 30 years feels reductive for an artist as elusive as Albarn. What is certain, though, is that his keen intuition for following ideas wherever they might lead him has granted him and his cartoon persona a career that transcends one sound or collaboration. Rather, his body of work reflects the seemingly endless pool of creative energy and artist friendships that its creator is so known for.
Gorillaz released their self-titled debut album in 2001 to worldwide success, spawning numerous successful follow-ups and continuing to release albums and tour into the 2020s.
The band have sold over 33 million records worldwide and are cited by Guinness World Records as the world's "Most Successful Virtual Band". They have won a Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, an NME Award and four MTV Europe Music Awards. They have also been nominated for 11 Brit Awards and won Best British Group at the 2018 Brit Awards.
In 2008, The Daily Telegraph named Albarn the 18th-most powerful person in British culture. In 2016, Albarn received the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to music.
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