Blur frontman Damon Albarn is awarded an OBE
Blur frontman Damon Albarn has been awarded an OBE for services to music.
The singer-songwriter, composer and musician rose to fame when he formed a band in 1988 with his friends Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree. The band was renamed Blur in 1990 after signing to a record label.
With hits including Song 2, Beetlebum and Parklife, Blur helped create the Britpop genre, fiercely competing with rival band Oasis in the charts.
In 1998, despite continuing to write, record and perform music with Blur, the 47-year-old founded virtual band Gorillaz with illustrator and designer Jamie Hewlett.
Together they created animated band-members Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, 2D and Russel Hobbs, who went on to rival Blur's success - with best-selling albums Gorillaz and Demon Days notching up millions of sales. Their single DARE reached the top of the charts, while Feel Good Inc made the top two.
In December Albarn, who was was born in London and raised in Essex, opened his musical, wonder.land, at the National Theatre in London - reworking Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland into a story about the digital age.
It has received mixed reviews, gaining only two stars in the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Express and the Evening Standard - although the Telegraph called Albarn's score "often richly suggestive".
This is his second collaboration with theatre director Rufus Norris, who also worked with him on the opera Doctor Dee in 2011, based on the life of Elizabethan scientist Doctor Dee.
This followed his 2007 production Monkey: Journey To The West, in which he and Hewlett adapted the Wu Cheng'en novel for the stage.
But Blur fans could rest easy as the band was not sidelined, and in April this year they released their first studio album in 12 years, The Magic Whip, which became their sixth consecutive album since 1994's Parklife to top the British charts.
Starting in June, the band played gigs from Portugal to China to Australia, as well as headlining at Hyde Park, where they played a career-spanning set including 23 songs. During the performance, Albarn handed out ice creams to the crowd.
He has also been working on the fifth Gorillaz album, which is expected in 2016. In an interview with Rolling Stone in October, he said: "So far, it's really fast, and it's got quite a lot of energy. I've been stuck on piano, somewhere off Broadway, for years now. I want to go somewhere completely opposite of that."