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Gorillaz and a three-man Think Tank


January 2001 - Damon Albarn says he intends to go back to the songwriting aesthetic achieved on Parklife. "It's too complicated being anything other than mainstream with Blur. That's where it belongs," he claims.

February 2001 - The new Blur Fan Club CD, B-Sides Gig EP is released. It countains four tracks performed live at the Camden Electric Ballroom in 1999.

GorillazMarch 2001 - Blur plan to collaborate with Fatboy Slim. The band are also to work with Marianne Faithfull later this year. Although they have written about ten songs for the new album, Damon Albarn says there is no intention to release an album in 2001, only one-off singles. Damon says the bands like A1 and Westlife should be banned, while his animated pop band Gorillaz' first single "Clint Eastwood" is released. With the help of the garage remix made by Ed Case, and a catchy chorus, the single reaches Number 4 in the UK charts and stays in Top 10 for incredible eight weeks. At the end of the month, the self-titled Gorillaz debut album is released.


April 2001 - The former Pavement singer Steven Malkmus critisises Blur by saying they are frustrated Radiohead wannabes and are suffering from an identity crisis. He also claims Blur ripped off the Pavement sound on Blur and 13.

May 2001 - Graham Coxon records his third solo album while Damon's soundtrack for the Icelandic movie 101 Reykjavik gets its UK release.

June 2001 - Gorillaz' next single "19-2000" is released and reaches Number 6 in the UK charts.

July 2001 - Alex James makes his TV show host debut on a programme 24 Hours In Soho. He also works with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her debut solo album. Gorillaz has become a massive worldwide success. Their debut album is released in the USA and soon reaches sales of a million copies there.

August 2001 - Blur are in studio with Marianne Faithfull recording a track for her upcoming album. "For the band, it wasn't one of the best experiences. Partly for obvious reasons, and partly for reasons that are private. It wasn't a good time for the band. We didn't want to be with each other," says Damon later about the sessions. Graham Coxon's third solo album Crow Sit On Blood Tree is released. Musically, it's the mixture between his previous two albums.

September 2001 - Blur make their first live appearance since last year's Meltdown Festival at a special industry bash to honour their manager Chris Morrison.

November 2001 - Blur finally start to record their new album with producer Ben Hillier in Damon's own studio. However, Graham doesn't turn up to these recording sessions which last a fortnight and produces nine new tunes. Previously, the band had tried to start recording with various people, including Bill Laswell, but those sessions didn't work out.

December 2001 - Damon's new album Mali Music, based on the recordings he made during the visit of the Mali, is rumoured to be released next spring as well as the new Japanese Blur releases.


January 2002 - Blur digitise "Beagle 2" readying it for use on the probe of the same name which will be send to Mars next year. The band continue recording their new album. This time, Graham is appearing in the studio now and again.

February 2002 - With 14 songs already in the can, Damon says the new Blur album will be finished in May. The Japanese releases, scheduled to be out this month, are both cancelled. Damon launches his own 'world music' record label called Honest Jon's. Gorillaz re-release "Tomorrow Comes Today" as a single and do their first tour in the US. The band are nominated for six awards at the Brit Awards, but oddly don't win anything.

March 2002 - Damon says that one new Blur song, "Don't Bomb When You Are The Bomb", could be a single. He admits his work with Gorillaz has caused tension between the members of Blur, but says: "I think everyone sees that I wasn't leaving the band in any way - I was just filling my mind and my heart with things that gave me a real reason to go and do justice to a band that we've worked so hard on building up."

April 2002 - Damon releases his Mali Music album through Honest Jon's and Blur Fan Club puts out a new CD. Graham Coxon records his fourth solo album.

May 2002 - After a few months break, Blur continue recording with Graham appearing in the studio for the last time (eventually, his work could be heard on four finished songs: "Battery In Your Leg", "Morricone", "The Outsider" and "Some Glad Morning").

July 2002 - Blur have 25 songs recorded. The band approach many producers, including The Neptunes, the Dust Brothers and William Orbit, to work on the album. Damon Albarn says the album will definitely be out in next January.

August 2002 - The Mirror newspaper claims Graham Coxon has left the group because of a series of rows with Damon Albarn. Despite the fact that Graham isn't in studio with Blur, he denies the reports and claims he's still in the band. Alex James reveals Blur's plans to make a film accompanying the new album. The Dust Brothers work on the new material with the band, while The Chemical Brothers consider to work on it. The band have decided to finish the album in Morocco. Damon teams up with Massive Attack's Robert '3-D' Del Naja to join CND-backed Stop The War campaign aimed at opposing war in Iraq.

September 2002 - Fatboy Slim, who now works with the band as producer along with Ben Hillier, says that Graham has definitely left Blur. However, Graham hits out at him saying he "doesn't really know what he's talking about". The band and producers fly to Morocco to continue work on album, but Coxon stays in London. Other band members are not keen to give comments about the situation, but refuse to refute rumours of Graham leaving Blur.

October 2002 - An interview with Q magazine confirms that Graham Coxon has left Blur. He claims that he was phoned by the band's manager and asked to leave. "It was something to do with my attitude," he told the magazine. Blur return to the UK from Morocco and move straight to Devon to finish mixing the album. Graham releases his fourth solo album, The Kiss Of Morning, which is regarded as his best solo album to date.

"Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb" vinylNovember 2002 - Blur release a new track anonymously on very limited edition white label vinyl (actually red as pictured right). Electronic "Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb" is a shock for fans and gets mostly bad opinions. However, Damon calm down fans saying it's not an indication of the sound of the new album. William Orbit quickly visits in Devon to do some decorating on some tracks. At the end of the month the new album is finished.

December 2002 - Alex James works again with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her new solo album.


January 2003 - Damon Albarn joins the protest against the Iraq war outside the London Parliament.

February 2003 - Blur reveal their new guitarist at a surprise gig in London. The ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong will play with Blur in live concerts this year. However, he won't be the official member of band: "Graham always was and always will be the Blur guitarist and one of my best friends," explains Dave Rowntree. The band's new live lineup also contains a percussionist, three backing singers and Mike Smith on keyboards and saxophone.

March 2003 - The seventh Blur album, entitled Think Tank, leaks to the Internet two months before the official release.

April 2003 - The new single "Out Of Time" is released to good reviews and gets Number 5 in the UK charts. Punkier "Song 2"-esque "Crazy Beat" is the first taster in the US.

London Astoria, May 2003May 2003 - Think Tank hits the shops and goes straight to Number 1 in the UK album chart. However, after eight weeks it is gone from Top 75. The album gets mostly good reviews from the press and fans, but new "guitarless" direction doesn't satisfy everybody. The band plays five sold-out nights at London's Astoria.

June 2003 - Blur's US tour starts. Graham has begun recording his new album with Stephen Street behind the producer's desk.

July 2003 - "Crazy Beat" is released as the second single from Think Tank. It fails to follow the footsteps of its grandfather "Song 2" and only charts at Number 18 in the UK. Many fans can't stand the duck voice and "yeah yeah yeah" bits in this Norman Cook produced single.

August 2003 - Blur play at the Reading and Leeds festivals. At the end of month, Blur Fan Club gives away the new single "Colours" to its members. The track was recorded during Think Tank sessions.

September 2003 - The Observer releases a five track special Blur CD containing previously unreleased Think Tank demos and live tracks. The band will spend the next couple of months touring around Europe, starting with two dates in Moscow.

October 2003 - Blur win the Best Album award for Think Tank at the Q Awards. "Good Song" is released as the third and final single from the album.

November 2003 - Successful Think Tank tour moves to the UK. Damon Albarn releases Democrazy, a limited vinyl-only solo album which consist of demos he recorded during Blur's last US tour. only 5,000 copies are pressed and sold through his own record label, Honest Jon's. "I thought it would be interesting to let people hear a side to the music-making process they never get to hear. It's the lowest lo-fi record ever," says Damon. According to him, some of the demos will be used later on the records by Blur and Gorillaz.

December 2003 - After the UK tour, Damon settles down to showcase Democrazy in a London club. Blur reveal their plans to make an EP next year. Think Tank do well in many magazine's "best of the year" polls. It is Number 1 in The Observer Music Monthly and Number 2 in Q. On a Boxing Day, the Mars lander Beagle 2 is supposed to land on the red planet and send a signal back to earth. Despite many attempts, scientists fail to pick-up the Blur-composed signal. The lander is most likely crashed on the planet during the landing.

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