Coldplay never intended to become England’s favorite rock & roll sons when their signature rock melodies ruled the charts throughout 2000. The Brit-rock quartet — composed of Chris Martin (vocals/piano), Jon Buckland (guitar), Will Champion (drums), and Guy Berryman (bass) — yearned to mess around a bit, plucking their own acoustics for fun while attending the University College of London. All had been playing instruments since their early teens and had been influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Stone Roses, Neil Young, and My Bloody Valentine.
They never imagined taking reign of the U.K.’s ever-changing rock scene. Each member had come from solid households of working-class parents that encouraged music to be played. Martin, the eldest of five, began playing the piano as a young child. He started playing in bands around age 15 and sought solace in the words of Tom Waits. Buckland, on the other hand, was into the heavy guitar work of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix and was playing guitar by age 11. Scotland native Berryman was into funk instead of indie rock, therefore leaving him to play bass. The multi-instrumentalist, Champion, didn’t plan to be a drummer until he joined Coldplay. He favored playing guitar, bass, and the tin whistle, but caught on to playing percussion when the band became official.
Coldplay was heart-rending like Travis, passionate like Jeff Buckley, and as fresh as Oasis when they first burst onto the scene, so it was ideal for the press and public to praise them. They played their first gig at a festival for unsigned bands in Manchester, and The Safety EP was issued shortly thereafter. The Brothers and Sisters EP was issued by Fierce Panda and released a year later. Both releases saw only 500 pressings. Their sweet melodies and swooning lyrics landed Coldplay a U.K. deal with Parlophone in April 1999, and the limited-edition five-track, The Blue Room EP, followed that fall. With endearing nods from the media, the dream pop foursome were hailed as the next Travis thanks to their simplistic acoustics and charming personas. Two more EPs, Shiver and Yellow, arrived in spring 2000.
Their full-length debut Parachutes, which earned the band a Mercury Music Prize nomination, was released in the U.K. In November 2000, Parachutes saw a U.S. release with Nettwerk; a month later, “Yellow” was chosen as the theme song for all promo spots for ABC. The well-received hype surrounding the band continued throughout 2001 as well, taking on three Brit Awards nominations and a sold-out ten-date tour of the U.S. in February. Rumors of a split consumed most of the U.S. tour. Martin frequently battled nasty colds and voice exhaustion, which led Coldplay to cancel a series of American dates and scrap a European tour. With all gossip aside, Coldplay resumed playing in summer 2001 and earned additional success with second single “Trouble.”
By fall, they headed into the studio for a second album. Rumor had it that it might be Coldplay’s last album, for the band felt they might not capture such brilliance again. A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in August 2002.
The CD/DVD package Live 2003 was issued in fall of that year. This concert album captured the band’s show at the Horden Pavilion in Sydney, Australia, and highlighted Coldplay’s monumental success worldwide with A Rush of Blood to the Head. They were bonafide pop stars. Martin, specifically, earned a higher notch on the celebrity scale by marrying actress Gwyneth Paltrow in December 2003. Paltrow gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Apple Blythe Alison Martin, the following April. Fatherhood didn’t stop Martin from working, for Coldplay began recording material for a third album within weeks. Previously recorded material with long-time producer Ken Nelson was scrapped early on while Danton Supple (Morrissey, the Cure) joined Coldplay to complete the recording of X&Y. “Speed of Sound” marked the band’s first single from their long-awaited third effort in spring 2005; the album followed in June. ~ MacKenzie Wilson, All Music Guide
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