Coldplay - Biography

ColdplayColdplay are an indie band from London, England. Having released three successful albums, Coldplay has also achieved great success with their singles, such as "Yellow", "Fix You" and the Grammy-winning "Clocks". The band are known for their smooth melodies and lead singer Chris Martin's activism in favour of Fair Trade.

Coldplay's early material was influenced by emotional alternative rock and Britpop, including the likes of Jeff Buckley, The Verve and Radiohead, while also drawing comparisons to U2 and Travis. Since the release of the band's debut album Parachutes (2000), Coldplay has also drawn influence from other sources, including Echo and the Bunnymen and George Harrison  on A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) and Johnny Cash, A-Ha and Kraftwerk for X&Y (2005), the band's latest release.

Coldplay is one of very few current British music acts to achieve major success in North America. Despite Coldplay's large worldwide popularity, the band has remained very protective of how their music is used in the media, refusing its use for product endorsements. Since 2002, Coldplay have been active supporters of various social and political causes. They have been visible advocates of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. The group has also performed at various charity projects such as Band Aid 20, Live 8, and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Band members

  • Chris Martin lead vocals, piano/keyboard, guitar
  • Jon Buckland guitar, harmonica, backing vocals
  • Will Champion drums/percussion, piano, backing vocals, guitar.
  • Guy Berryman bass guitar, synthesizer, harmonica, backing vocals


(19961999) Formation and early years

The members of the band met at Ramsay Hall, a hall of residence at University College London in September 1996. Martin and Buckland were the first members of the band, having met one another during freshers' week. They spent the rest of the year planning a band; at one point Martin had considered forming an *NSYNC-inspired boy band called Pectoralz. Eventually, Berryman joined the ranks, without consideration of what musical direction the band was taking. On 8 January 1998, the band's line-up was complete when Champion joined the band to take up percussion duties. The multi-talented Champion had grown up playing piano, guitar, bass, and tin whistle; he quickly learned the drums, despite having no previous experience with that instrument. At the time, the band performed under the name Starfish. Eventually, the band took the name Coldplay from a mutual friend. Another UCL student, Tim Rice-Oxley was offered a job as Coldplay's keyboard player, but he refused since he was already committed to Keane.

In 1998, Coldplay was performing small club gigs for local Camden promoters and the delight of their budding fanbase. Wanting more creative freedom, Martin recruited school friend Phil Harvey, who was studying Classics at Oxford, to act as band manager. Harvey helped the band raise money needed to record a demo. Harvey managed the band up until and including the release of their debut album Parachutes. On May 18, 1998 the band released 500 copies of the EP Safety. Most of the discs were given to record companies and friends; only 50 copies remained for sale to the public. In December, Coldplay was signed by indie label Fierce Panda, after founder Simon Williams had attended the band's gig that evening. The result was the three track EP Brothers And Sisters which was quickly recorded over four days in February 1999. The disc was released in April, only 2,500 copies were pressed in a very limited release. Interest in the band was slowly growing across the UK, helped by regular airplay from BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq and BMG Music Publishing, which had signed the band to a development deal.

After completing their final examinations, Coldplay was signed to Parlophone for a five-album contract in the spring of 1999. After making their first appearance at Glastonbury, the band went into studio to record a third EP titled The Blue Room. The disc was released in October, and 5,000 copies were made available to the public. The recording sessions for The Blue Room were tumultuous. Martin kicked Champion out of the band but later pleaded with him to return and due to his guilt, Martin (a self-proclaimed non-drinker and non-smoker) went on a drinking binge. Eventually, the band worked out their differences and put in place a new set of rules to keep the group intact. First, the band declared an all-for-one approach; Coldplay was a democracy, and profits were to be shared equally, taking a page from bands like a-ha, U2 and R.E.M. Second, the band would fire anyone who used hard drugs.

(19992001) Parachutes

In November 1999, Coldplay focused their efforts on their debut album. The band spent the New Year by completing album tracks "Yellow" and "Everything's Not Lost". They also played on the NME Carling Premier Tour, which showcased up-and-coming acts. After releasing three EPs without a hit song, Coldplay scored their first Top 40 single, "Shiver". Released in March 2000, the single placed at a modest #35 and earned the band their first airplay on MTV.

June 2000 was a pivotal moment in Coldplay's history. The band embarked on their first headlining tour, which included a triumphant return to Glastonbury. More notably, the band released the breakthrough single "Yellow". The song shot to #4 on the UK Singles Chart and placed the band in public consciousness.

Coldplay released their first full-length album, Parachutes, in July 2000, which debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Along with critical acclaim, Parachutes was sometimes criticized for bearing a strong resemblance to the music of fellow alt-rock band Radiohead in their The BendsOK Computer era. "Yellow" and "Trouble" earned regular airplay on radio on both sides of the Atlantic. While having strong influence of Radiohead, the album captured some of their audience after the electronic-experimental album Kid A, which divided Radiohead's fanbase into those who were alienated by it and those who liked it. Parlophone originally predicted sales of 40,000 units of Parachutes; by Christmas, 1.6 million copies had been sold in the United Kingdom alone. Parachutes was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in September 2000.

Having found success in Europe, the band set their sights on North America. Parachutes was released in November 2000. The band embarked on a US club tour in early 2001, beginning with a show in Vancouver, Canada, which was coupled with appearances on Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Parachutes was a modest success, and was certified with Gold status in the United States. The album was also critically well-received, earning Best Alternative Music Album honours at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

(20012004) A Rush of Blood to the Head

Coldplay returned working in October 2001 to begin work on their second album. With much anticipation, Coldplay released A Rush of Blood to the Head in August 2002.

The opening track, "Politik", was written days after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The album spawned many popular singles, notably "In My Place", "The Scientist", and "Clocks".

Coldplay toured for over a year, from June 2002 to September 2003, visiting five continents including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival, V2003, and Rock Werchter. The tour showed the band's progression into a bona fide stadium act. Many shows included elaborate lighting and individualized screens reminiscent of U2's Elevation Tour. Coldplay also built a reputation of performing eclectic covers, including A-Ha's Hunting High And Low, Aqua's "Barbie Girl", Rammstein's "Du hast", and Nelly's "Hot in Herre", along with more heartfelt renditions of songs like Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World". During the extended tour, Coldplay also recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion. A new song, "Moses", could be found on this compilation.

In December 2003, they were named by readers of Rolling Stone magazine as the best artist and the best band of the year. That same time Coldplay covered The Pretenders' hit "2000 Miles", which was made available for download on their official site. It was the top selling UK download that year, with proceeds from the sales donated to Future Forests and Stop Handgun Violence campaigns. A Rush of Blood to the Head won two trophies at the 2003 Grammy Awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year honours for Clocks. The album was also named to Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums at number 473.

(20042006) X&Y

2004 was a quiet year for Coldplay, as they spent most of the year out of spotlight resting from touring and recording their third album. In May, Coldplay teased fans with a new song and music video on their official site to celebrate the birth of Apple, Martin's daughter. Famed producer Sir George Martin introduced the promo as Coldplay and their producer Ken Nelson performed as The Nappies, a satirised rap/glam rock outfit. Martin joked that this music had been inspired by Jay-Z.

Coldplay's third album, X&Y, was released on 6 June, 2005 in the UK. This new, delayed release date had put the album back into the next fiscal year, actually causing EMI's stock to drop. It became the best selling album of 2005 with worldwide sales of 8.4 million. The lead single "Speed of Sound", made its radio and online music store debut on 18 April and was released as a CD on 23 May, 2005. The album debuted at #1 in 28 countries worldwide and is the second fastest selling album in UK chart history (behind the 1997 Oasis album Be Here Now). Two other singles were released that year: "Fix You" in September and "Talk" in December. In May 2006 the band released "The Hardest Part" in several countries outside the UK.

From June 2005 to July 2006, Coldplay was on the Twisted Logic Tour, that has included festival dates like Coachella, Glastonbury and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. For the 2006 tour, the band completed a third visit in the same tour to North America with dates from late January (Seattle) to early April (Philadelphia). The 22nd and 23rd March shows in Toronto were also recorded for an upcoming live DVD. In July 2005, the band appeared at Live 8 in Hyde Park, where they played a rendition of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" with Richard Ashcroft on vocals.

In September, Coldplay recorded a new version of "How You See The World" with reworked lyrics to War Child's Help: a Day in the Life charity album.

In February 2006, Coldplay earned Best Album and Best Single honours at the Brit Awards. In his acceptance speech, lead singer Chris Martin raised rumours of a band split when he announced in manner "This (award) means so much to us, especially now. It's going to be a few years before you see us again." The band's label have refuted these claims as they have two more albums in contract.

Political and social activism

Coldplay is a supporter of Amnesty International; frontman Chris Martin is also noted one of the most visible celebrity advocates for "fair trade", supporting Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign until its dissolution in 2005 after the concert Live 8 (which Coldplay played at) and the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. Martin has been on trips with Oxfam to assess conditions, has appeared in their advertising campaign, and is known for wearing a "Make Trade Fair" wristband during public appearances, including at Coldplay concerts.

According to Martin, poor countries are trading on an unfair playing field, because rich nations are allowed to subsidize their own farmers and industries, while poorer nations are forced to cut subsidies as a condition of loans and aid from rich countries. When poor nations without the benefit of subsidies try to trade with rich nations, their farmers must compete with lower-priced protected goods from rich countries that have been "dumped" into their markets, keeping their own industries in an infant state, and in the process chaining the "third world" in an endless cycle of poverty, according to fair trade advocates. Martin allegedly wrote the song "Twisted Logic" to express his beliefs on the issue, even using the song's title to name the band's tour for X&Y.

Martin was outspoken against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Although he is not a U.S. citizen, Martin's wife Gwyneth Paltrow is; both currently live in New York City.

In their early years, Coldplay was also widely noted in the media for their claim to give 10% of their band's profits to charity. Bassist Guy Berryman says, "You can make people aware of issues. It isn't very much effort for us at all, but if it can help people, then we want to do it".

Coldplay Official Website

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