Blur is a British rock band, consisting of Damon Albarn (vocals/keyboard), Alex James (bass), Dave Rowntree (drums) and, until 2002, Graham Coxon (guitar).
The band was formed in 1989 under the name of "Seymour", which was later changed to their current name during 1990. They achieved modest success with their first two albums, Leisure (1991) and Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993).
The 1994 album Parklife meant the breakthrough of the band, especially in their home country, scoring hits with singles such as "Girls and Boys", and "Parklife" which seems to have been influenced by The Small Faces' "Lazy Sunday". This album sparked the sudden popularity of Brit-pop, which reached its height for Blur with the album The Great Escape ("Country House"). The band became involved in a struggle for most popular Brit-pop band in their country, which was eventually won by Oasis.
Blur, released in 1997, broke with the musical tradition from the previous two albums, focussing more on indie rock. This caused an initial decrease in popularity, although the second single from this album, "Song 2", became a big hit.
In 1999, Blur released 13, an album lyrically dominated by the end of Albarn's relationship with Justine Frischmann of Elastica. The members of Blur also engaged in a variety of side-projects around this time: Coxon made a number of solo albums, Alex James joined actor Keith Allen to form Fat Les, while Albarn contributed to Gorillaz and travelled to Mali on behalf of Oxfam, producing the fundraising album Mali Music.
Tensions between Coxon and the rest of the band escalated during recording sessions in 2002. Coxon was variously reported to have failed to attend recording sessions or to have been shut out of them. He was apparently unhappy at the choice of dance DJ Fatboy Slim as the sessions' producer. After several weeks of rumour and uncertainty, Coxon confirmed that he had been asked to leave the band for reasons connected with his "attitude" at a time when he had given up a heavy alcohol habit. Albarn later told an interviewer that there had been a power struggle between himself and Coxon. The album resulting from the sessions, Think Tank, was released in May 2003 to mostly favourable reviews.