Coldplay, from left to right: Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Will Champion
Chris MartinJonny BucklandGuy BerrymanWill Champion
1.1 Formation and first years (1996–1999)
1.2 Parachutes (1999–2001)
1.3 A Rush of Blood to the Head (2001–2004)
1.4 X&Y (2004–2006)
1.5 Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2006–present)
2 Musical style
4.1 Studio albums
4.2 Live albums
Coldplay are a British alternative rock band formed in London, England in 1998. The group comprises vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Chris Martin, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer/backing vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Will Champion. Coldplay have sold 50 million albums, and are also known for their hit singles, such as "Yellow", "The Scientist", "Clocks", "Speed of Sound", "Fix You" and "Viva la Vida".
Coldplay achieved worldwide fame with the release of their single "Yellow", followed by their debut album, Parachutes (2000), which was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Its follow-up, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), won multiple awards such as NME's Album of the Year. Their next release, X&Y (2005), received a slightly less enthusiastic yet still generally positive reception. The band's fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), was produced by Brian Eno and released again to largely favourable reviews, earning several Grammy nominations and wins. All of Coldplay's albums have enjoyed commercial success.
Coldplay's early material was compared to acts such as Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, U2, and Travis. Since the release of Parachutes, Coldplay have drawn influence from other sources, including Echo and the Bunnymen, Kate Bush and George Harrison on A Rush of Blood to the Head, Johnny Cash and Kraftwerk for X&Y and Blur, Arcade Fire and My Bloody Valentine on Viva la Vida. Coldplay have been an active supporter of various social and political causes, such as Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. The group have also performed at various charity projects such as Band Aid 20, Live 8, Sound Relief, and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Formation and first years (1996–1999)
The members of the band met at the University College London (UCL) in September 1996. Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland were the first members of the band, having met one another during their orientation week. They spent the rest of the college year planning a band, with their efforts culminating in a group called Pectoralz. Later, Guy Berryman, a classmate of the two, joined. By 1997, the group, who had renamed themselves to Starfish, performed gigs for local Camden promoters at small clubs. Martin also had recruited his longtime school friend Phil Harvey, who was studying classics at Oxford, to be the band's manager. (To this day, Coldplay consider Harvey to be the fifth member of the group.) The band's lineup was complete when Will Champion joined the band to take up percussion duties. Champion had grown up playing piano, guitar, bass, and tin whistle; he quickly learned the drums, despite having no previous experience. The band finally settled on the name "Coldplay" which was suggested by Tim Crompton, a local student who had been using the name for his group. By 1997 Martin had also met then Classics student Tim Rice-Oxley. During a weekend on Virginia Water, they asked each other to play off their own songs on the piano. Martin, finding Rice-Oxley to be talented, asked him to be Coldplay's keyboard player but Rice-Oxley refused as his own band (Keane) was already operational. Days after, this event would shape the second line-up of Keane and keep Coldplay's unaltered, thus leaving both bands as quartets.
In 1998, the band released 500 copies of the Safety EP. Most of the discs were given to record companies and friends; only 50 copies remained for sale to the public. In December, Coldplay signed to the independent label Fierce Panda. Their first release was the three-track Brothers and Sisters EP, which they had quickly recorded over four days in February 1999.
After completing their final examinations, Coldplay 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. 5,000 copies were made available to the public in October, and the single "Bigger Stronger", received Radio 1 airplay. The recording sessions for The Blue Room were tumultuous. Martin kicked Champion out of the band but later pleaded with him to return, and because of his guilt, 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 U2 and R.E.M. Second, the band would fire anyone who used hard drugs.
In March 1999, Coldplay began work on their debut album, recorded at Rockfield Studios with producer Ken Nelson. They also played on the Carling 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, it reached at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart 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, including a showing at Glastonbury. The band also released the breakthrough single "Yellow". The song shot to number four on the UK Singles Chart and placed Coldplay in public consciousness.
Coldplay released their first full-length album, Parachutes, in July 2000, which debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. "Yellow" and "Trouble" earned regular radio airplay in the UK and US. Parlophone originally predicted sales of 400,000 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, and Parachutes was released there in November 2001. 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. Whilst Parachutes was a slow-burning success in the US, it eventually reached double-platinum status. The album was critically well-received, earning Best Alternative Music Album honours at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2001–2004)
Coldplay returned to the studio in October 2001 to begin work on their second album, once again with Ken Nelson producing. A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in August 2002. The album spawned several popular singles, notably "In My Place", "Clocks", and the ballad "The Scientist".
Coldplay toured from June 2002 to September 2003 for the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. They visited five continents, including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival, V2003 and Rock Werchter. Many shows included elaborate lighting and individualised screens reminiscent of U2's Elevation Tour. During the extended tour, Coldplay recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion.
In December 2003, they were named by readers of Rolling Stone magazine as the best artist and the best band of the year. At that time Coldplay covered The Pretenders' 1983 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 the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year for "Clocks".