Damon Albarn OBE (/ /; born 23 March 1968) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer and record producer. He is the lead singer of the British rock band Blur and co-founder, vocalist, instrumentalist, and principal songwriter of the virtual band Gorillaz. Albarn is also part of two supergroups, one usually known as The Good, the Bad & the Queen, although it is stated that they are officially unnamed, and another named Rocket Juice & the Moon.
Raised in Leytonstone, East London and around Colchester, Essex, Albarn attended the Stanway School, where he met Graham Coxon and eventually formed Blur, whose debut album Leisure was released in 1991 to mixed reviews. After spending long periods of time touring the US, Albarn's songwriting became increasingly influenced by British bands from the 1960s. The result of these influences came in the form of Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995). All three albums received critical acclaim while Blur gained mass popularity in the UK, aided by a Britpop rivalry with Oasis. Subsequent albums such as Blur (1997), 13 (1999), Think Tank (2003) and The Magic Whip (2015) contained influences from lo-fi, electronic and hip hop music.
Along with Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett, Albarn formed the "virtual band" Gorillaz in 1998. Drawing influences from alternative rock, trip hop, hip hop, electronica, dub, reggae and pop music, the band released their self-titled debut album in 2001 to worldwide success. Although Albarn is the only permanent musical contributor, the albums feature collaborations from a wide range of artists. Gorillaz are cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Virtual Band". Other projects include working with African musicians in aid of the charity Oxfam, writing and performing lead vocals on The Good, the Bad & the Queen as part of an unnamed supergroup and composing film soundtracks. He has also ventured into the world of opera with Dr Dee and Monkey: Journey to the West. His debut solo studio album Everyday Robots—co-produced by XL Recordings CEO Richard Russell—was released on 28 April 2014 and featured collaborations with Brian Eno, Natasha Khan and the Leytonstone City Pentecostal Mission Church Choir as well as sampling several rants by Lord Buckley.
In 2008, The Daily Telegraph ranked Albarn number 18 in their list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture". In a 2010 UK poll for Q magazine Albarn was voted the fourth-greatest frontman of all time. 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.