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Alex James
Bass

 

Alex James
Think Tank promo shot (2003)

Born: November 21st 1968, at Boscombe Hospital in Bournemouth, England

Family: Parents, sister Deborah

Height: 6' 2" (approx. 188 cm)


Alex is born and raised in Bournemouth, where he lived with his father, mother and little sister. He was actually given the name Steven Alexander James, but he's now known as just Alex James. At junior school, Alex's mum begged him to take violin lessons, but the instrument was too difficult for him. After the death of grandfather, the family moved to a guest house which was at a retiring centre. There he got so bored that he dedicated a lot of time to school and therefore got 13 "O" levels. He was also good at sports, especially in football.

Music, though, was one of Alex's main interests. At the age of 13, his dad bought a piano that got his attention straight away. A few years later, Alex's first band called The Age Of Consent was formed in his mate Jay Burt-Smale's bedroom. Because the synthesizers were too expensive at the time, Alex decided to play the bass instead and got a Fender Precision bass copy on his 16th birthday. The another band, Mr. Pangs Bang Bangs, was named after his landlord.

Soon Alex left Bournemouth to study French at Goldsmiths College. He got to know Graham Coxon, who lived above his apartment, and together they delved into art and artistic movements, including their own group Nichtkunst. Graham brought Alex to hear Circus, a band that included him, Damon Albarn and Dave Rowntree. Damon's first impression of Alex was very clear: "He completely pisses me off". Alex replied by saying "that's shit" about the Circus' music.

Despite the beginning, Alex teamed up with the lads and later on, when Circus had lost two members (Eddie Deedigan and Dave Brolan), Graham asked Alex to join as a bass player. However, in the beginning Alex wasn't such a good bass player. "We were always waiting for Alex to learn stuff," Dave Rowntree has said. Soon they changed their name to Seymour and Alex left Goldsmiths with unfinished studies to work on the band.

Alex split-up with his long-term girlfriend Justine Andrew in 2002. Currently, he is married to Claire Neat and together they have five children:

  • Geronimo (born February 16th, 2004)
  • Twin boys Artemis and Galileo (April 2006)
  • Sable (August 2008)
  • Beatrix (December 2009)

Like Dave, Alex is interested in flying and acquired a pilot's licence in the early 2000s (soon afterwards he sold his plane to Dave and became an eco-friendly farmer). Alex is also very keen on space and has been a Visiting Scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.


Besides Blur
 

Supergroups

Me Me Me (1996): Alex put together a Britpop supergroup with Stephen Duffy, Justin Welch and Charlie Bloor who released one single, "Hanging Around".

The Stone Cold Strollers (1997-1998): Alex, Guy Pratt and Ed Shearmur co-wrote "Hang It On Your Heart" for Marianne Faithfull as The Stone Cold Strollers. The group also made two songs for the Mojo soundtrack.

Fat Les (1998-2002): A comedian group consisting of Alex, actor Keith Allen and artist Damien Hirst, among others. They recorded "Vindaloo", the unofficial song of the British World Cup team in 1998. The single reached #2 in the UK chart and sold almost one million copies. In 2000, Fat Les re-formed and recorded a cover of "Jerusalem" for the England's Euro 2000 football team. The next song was released for the World Cup 2002 team, but only got a little attention.

WigWam (2005-2006): Alex collaborated with Alison Clarkson (a.k.a. Betty Boo) on their short-lived band whose only single "WigWam" failed to set the chart alight. There was also a finished WigWam album that was never released.


Broadcasting and journalism

Since the early 2000s, Alex has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows as a co-presenter or guest (list of all appearances). He has also written many columns to the UK newspapers and magazines such as The Independent, The Spectator and Q. Alex has also written two books; his own autobiography Bit Of A Blur (2007) and the follow-up memoir All Cheeses Great & Small (2012).


Cheesemaking

Alex has designed a range of award winning artisan cheeses on his Cotswolds farm: Little Wallop was introduced in 2007, Farleigh Wallop and the world's first ever square blue cheese Blue Monday followed the next year. His first mainstream cheese range called Alex James Presents was launched in 2011 in partnership with Asda. The latest artisan cheese addition, Goddess, was launched at Jamie Oliver and Alex James' annual food and music festival The Big Feastival in 2012.


Miscellaneous

  • In 2000, Alex collaborated with the film composer Simon Boswell and Ian McCulloch for the score to the Brit football flick There's Only One Jimmy Grimble.
     
  • Alex worked with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on a couple of tracks on her first two albums, Read My Lips and Shoot From The Hip.
     
  • He is playing bass on Stephen Duffy's album I Love My Friends. More recently, Alex has contributed bass to Bad Lieutenant's debut album Never Cry Another Tear.
     

For the full list and details of Alex's musical appearances outside Blur, see
Alex James Discography. Song List also lists appearances outside Blur.


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