Damon Albarn – born on March 23, 1968, in Whitechapel, England – rose to fame in the 1990s as front man with Blur. Known as one of the leaders of the Britpop movement, he went on to forge a fascinating parallel career experimenting in other adventurous areas including world music, dance, musicals, and opera. The son of Keith Albarn, manager of jazz fusion group Soft Machine, he was born in East London and grew up in the Essex town of Colchester, learning to play guitar and violin. He studied drama before forming his first band Two's A Crowd, while other early Albarn outfits included The Aftermath, Real Lies and Seymour, which morphed into Blur, releasing their first album Leisure in 1991. Blur became one of the most important UK bands of the 1990s with a string of hit singles and albums, even breaking America with “Song 2”. They effectively split in 2003, by which time Albarn was already indulging his interest in seemingly alien musical territories, resulting in the groundbreaking animated electronic group Gorillaz with Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the comic book, Tank Girl. The huge success of Gorillaz on the back of their first two albums Gorillaz (2001) and Demon Days (2005), encouraged Albarn to spread his wings even further, releasing a collection of solo demos Democrazy in 2003. He also collaborated with leading African musicians like Toumani Diabaté and Afel Bocoum on Mali Music (2002). He made a further splash in 2007, linking up with Tony Allen, Paul Simenon, Simon Tong and Danger Mouse in The Good, The Bad & The Queen, before reuniting Blur in 2009. He also teamed with Tony Allen and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers in Rocket Juice & The Moon in 2011. His most ambitious experiments came with his diversification into theatrical work, notably with the Chinese stage musical Monkey, Journey To The West (2007) and the opera Dr Dee (2011), telling the story of Elizabethan scientist John Dee. As a member of world music group Africa Express, he released five albums including Maison Des Jeunes (2013), In C Mali (2014), the Molo EP (2019) and Egoli (2019). His 2021 album The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows began as an orchestral album, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed plans and it became an electronic-oriented solo album filled with David Bowie-inspired pop songs.