Gorillaz is an original musical group founded in 1998 that exists in two worlds, virtual and real. Its participants are fictional animated characters, but the real identities of the musicians have long remained a mystery. Over the 20 years of its existence, the group has won many awards and nominations in prestigious competitions, acquired millions of fans around the world and took pride of place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful virtual music project.
Gorillaz is the most successful virtual band
History of creation
The “fathers” of Gorillaz were the frontman of the British band Blur Damon Albarn and the talented artist Jamie Hewlett. Their first meeting took place in 1990 during a Blur interview with Deadline magazine in which Hewlett published his comics. The artist became friends with the musicians and even started dating the ex-girlfriend of the band’s guitarist.
Gorillaz created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett
In 1997, Albarn and Hewlett rented an apartment together in London. The idea of creating a virtual musical project was born by friends while watching the MTV channel. They were not satisfied with the proposed content, they wanted to do something special. By that time, Albarn had accumulated a large amount of musical material that did not fall under the Blur format. Therefore, it was decided to come up with a virtual group with which he could anonymously realize his creative ideas.
For a long time, the identities of the Gorillaz members were a mystery.
Hewlett took up the idea with enthusiasm, and soon a team of four drawn characters was born, each with their own biography.
Biographies of virtual members
The group’s frontman is Murdoc Nichols, who is also the main anti-hero. Brazen, impudent, self-confident and having a habit of expressing to people in the face everything that he thinks of them. Previously engaged in robbery, carjacking, arson and other illegal activities, and also worked as a seller, tinker and even was a Christmas Santa. At the same time, he was a passionate fan of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne and dreamed of his own band all his life.
Keyboardist 2D (aka Stuart Pot) before joining the band worked as an ordinary salesman in a musical instrument store and dreamed of becoming a regional manager. When the boy was eleven years old, he fell from a tree upside down and lost all his hair. True, after a while they grew back, but acquired a strange blue color.
2D – Gorillaz Keyboardist
But the series of misfortunes Stu did not end there. Thanks to Murdoc, who, with a gang of accomplices, decided to rob his store in order to get tools for his group, the guy lost his left eye. The gangsters’ car drove into the window at high speed, the fragments hit Stu right in the face. For this offense, Murdoch was sentenced to long-term community service and forcibly assigned to the needy Stewart.
But his guardianship brought the guy only new troubles. During an unsuccessful drift, an unbelted Stu Pot flew through the windshield of Murdoch’s car and lost his remaining eye. In addition, he received a head injury, as a result of which he discovered the talent of a keyboardist and the ability to think in extraterrestrial categories.
For a full-fledged group, there was not enough drummer, and soon Russell Fobs appeared in the team. As a child, Russell was possessed by the devil, for which he was expelled from school. After spending four years in a coma, with the help of several exorcisms, he nevertheless got rid of the obsession and soon became interested in street hip-hop. But a few years later, all his musician friends were shot in a street brawl, and he alone survived. The souls of dead friends moved into his body, thanks to which he received unique musical abilities. True, since then his eyes have been covered with a white veil.
Drummer Russell Forbes
The first guitarist in the group was the girl 2D. Murdoc seduced her and then kicked her out of the group. Her place was taken by the Japanese Noodle (which translates as “noodles”), which was delivered to the studio in a food container on the announcement of the recruitment of guitarists. The miniature girl, in addition to her unique musical talent, was fluent in karate techniques and suffered from amnesia. After some time, her memory was restored thanks to the phrase “Ocean Bacon” accidentally heard, in which a secret cipher was programmed.
Artwork for Noodle and other members has evolved over time
The group was even assigned a rider, which included 48 cans of strong beer, a huge plate of sandwiches, hemp, spider liver, goat dung and ground snake bones.
Having gathered all the participants into a single team, the fathers-creators thought about the name. Without much thought, Albarn and Hewlett named their brainchild Gorilla, since both were born in the year of the Monkey. Over time, the letter Z was added to the name – “for greater coolness.”
Creative achievements and worldwide success
In 2001, the band released their debut album Gorillaz, which made a splash in the music world. The record of an unknown band sold seven million copies and immediately hit the pages of the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful virtual project.
The first Gorillaz album was released in 2001.
To record the disc, Hewitt gathered a variety of musicians whose names remained unknown to the public for a long time. This further fueled the interest of fans who were eager to find out who was hiding behind the images of cartoon characters. From record to record, the composition changed, but this did not affect the quality of the musical product. Hewitt only welcomed collaborations with other artists who were also interested in participating in such an original project. Each track of the album was accompanied by a video sequence, which described a specific story, traced in detail and carrying a deep meaning.
In 2005, the band’s second album “Demon Days” was released – and again a resounding success! In support of him, the band went on a world tour for the first time. At the first concerts, the musicians hid behind screens with animation, showing the audience only their shadows. Later, hologram images began to be used, but this turned out to be an expensive pleasure, and such expensive special effects began to be resorted to only at large-scale shows and award ceremonies.
Now Gorillaz concerts are held “live”
Albarn and Hewitt are big fans of zombies and vampires, which could not but be reflected in their work. They are also fans of Chinese theater, and in 2006 worked on an adaptation of the opera Monkey: Journey To The West. Hewitt was in charge of costumes and sets, Albarn was in charge of the musical part. Two years later, they were invited to prepare for the Beijing Olympics and created one of the most impressive commercials in the history of the Games.
The band has several documentaries about the recording of the albums “Demon Days” and “Plastic Beach”, which are made with great professionalism and look at the same breath.
In 2017, after a long break, the group made itself known again by releasing the album “Humans”. Initially, it was decided to call it “Transformerz” in tune with the track of the same name, but Albarn’s daughter rightly reasoned that in this case the record would be associated with the films of Michael Bay. The vocalist of the famous British band Oasis, Noell Gallagher, who could not stand Albarn in his youth, took part in the recording of this disc. But now they are best friends, and the last track of the album, recorded with the participation of Noell, became the decoration of the disc.
By that time, Hewlett had significantly “improved” Gorillaz
On the cover of the album, the humanized faces of the Gorillaz members flaunted, in which famous people were easily guessed: 2D – Jack White, Noodle – Bjork, Murdoch – Noell Gallagher, Russell – rapper Notorius BIG
Album cover of Humanz
- Gorillaz (2001)
- Demon Days (2005)
- Plastic Beach (2010)
- The Fall (2011)
- Humans (2017)
- The Now Now (2018)
In 2018, the group delighted fans with their next album, The Now Now, which is noticeably different from the previous ones. There were changes both in the musical style of the group (it became more “summer”), and in its composition. Still, Murdoch, who had thundered into prison, was replaced by the no less sinister Ace, members of the group began to give interviews and participate in television shows, and ultra-modern “motion capture” technologies began to be used at concerts.
Ace is the new member of Gorillaz
Rapper Snoop Dogg worked with the musicians on the recording of the track “Hollywood”. All this clearly indicates that the creators of the group are not going to give up their positions and will repeatedly please their fans with their talent and creativity.