Graham Coxon

Graham Coxon is an English singer-songwriter, best known as the guitarist and backup vocalist for the alternative rock band Blur.


Graham Coxon was born in Rinteln, West Germany on May 12, 1969, and grew up primarily in the United Kingdom. Coxon is known as the lead guitarist and backup vocalist for the 1990s alternative rock band Blur. He also had a solo career concurrently with Blur. Band mates ejected him in 2001, and he returned to Blur in 2008. Blur won the BRIT Awards 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, and soon after, the band performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Early Life

Singer-songwriter Graham Coxon (Graham Leslie Coxon) was born in Rinteln, West Germany on May 12, 1969. His talent in the arts stemmed from his father, Bob, a clarinet player in the army band and mother, Pauline, a language educator. Coxon and older sister Haley lived with their parents in Germany until 1975 when the family moved to an U.K. army camp in Colchester, Essex.

By the time he was 12, Coxon could play the fife, drums, saxophone, and guitar. In 1977 at the Stanway Comprehensive School, he met Damon Albarn who would eventually become the lead vocalist in their future band Blur. Both went on to attend Colchester Sixth Form College, though Coxon only stayed for a year. The then 17 year old next enrolled into the North Essex School of Art and Design and proceeded to Goldsmiths College to pursue the arts.

During these early years, Coxon and Alban formed several short-lived bands such as The Aftermath and Real Lives. Other Coxon bands included Hazel Dean and The Carp Eaters From Hell, The Curious Band, Idle Vice, Circus and Seymour.

When Seymour sent their demo to Food Records, the company signed them on one major condition: They had to change their name. The band presented a list of options, and in 1989, Blur was born.

Commercial Success: Blur

Coxon was halfway through his Goldsmith College art degree when Blur started to take off. Coxon provided all guitars and backup vocals for the band. Blur's genre of alternative rock, indie rock and Britpop put them in good company with Oasis and The Verve, other U.K. bands emerging at that time.

In the early '90s, Blur released its debut album Leisure (1991) and followed up with Modern Life is Rubbish (1992). The band toured the U.S., but at that time grunge ruled the airwaves so Americans didn’t take to Blur.

Notoriety came in 1994 with the band's breakout (third) album, Parklife. Blur catapulted to become one of England's most renowned bands, and it was this popularity that contributed to the rivalry between Blur and Oasis. Blur won the fight versus Oasis in the so-called "Battle of Britpop" when both released singles on the same day. In a newspaper interview, Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher said he hoped Blur's lead singer, Damon Albarn, "would catch AIDS and die" (he later apologized).

In 1995, Blur released The Great Escape, and the sudden celebrity status that followed seemed to coax out Coxon's demons. Hard partying filled with excessive booze took its toll on his relationship with his fellow bandmates, especially with Albarn. To salvage their friendship and his health, Coxon stopped drinking and smoking (albeit temporarily).

With new clarity, Coxon began work on the band's 1997 album, Blur, even writing his first song, "You're So Great." The next year, he launched his own label, Transcopic, and released his first solo album, The Sky Is Too High—a departure from Blur's heavier sound, with folk-inspired songs.

In 1999, Blur released its sixth album, 13, with Coxon's painting gracing its cover. Around the same time, Coxon launched his second solo album, hard rock-influenced The Golden D. He followed up in 2001 with a third solo album, Crow Sit On Blood Tree, the songs of which were solely written and performed by Coxon. Coxon's vices came back strong that year, however, and just as Blur was about to record its seventh album, Think Tank, he checked himself into an alcoholic treatment center. It was during this absence that the rest of the band ejected him from Blur. Coxon used the break to spend time with his family and record three solo albums: The Kiss of the Morning (2002), Happiness in Magazines (2004) and Love Travels at Illegal Speeds (2006).

Albarn and Coxon mended their friendship in 2008, and that same year, Coxon rejoined Blur. The band went on to perform two sold-out shows in Hyde Park and play festival dates at Glastonbury. Coxon continued his solo work while playing with the band, creating two more albums: The Spinning Top (2009) and A+E (2012). Throughout this period, Blur released new singles in lieu of albums.

Things continued to look up for Coxon around this time, and in a BBC poll, the public voted him "the 15th greatest guitarist in the past 30 years." Former nemesis and now-friendly Noel Gallagher of Oasis concurred, describing Coxon as "the greatest guitarist of his generation."

In 2011, Coxon took time to raise money for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami through a charity gig in London. He performed with Richard Ashcroft, Liam Gallagher and other notable musicians.

In 2012, Blur's contributions to music were recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BRIT Awards. Only months later, the band performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, held in in London's Hyde Park.

Personal Life

With a background in art, Coxon has enjoyed painting outside of his musical career, stating, "I'd love to have a month to myself and a ton of canvases, but there's no time. It's kind of like a hobby. There are other things I want to do, such as bettering myself as a musician."

He also has a keen interest in clothing, admitting, "I think to most people it's not outwardly noticeable, but to me it makes a lot of difference what shoes I wear, and whether I put them with the blue mac or the black mac. It reflects my mood."

In 2000, Coxon fathered a daughter, Pepper, with girlfriend Anna Norlander. Amidst a battle with alcoholism, the couple split the following year. Coxon met photographer Essy Syed in 2006. Coxon and Syed spend their time in Camden, where they live with their terrier, Frankie, as well as at a home in the Kent countryside, where Coxon keeps his motorbike collection.    Coxon has remained close to his daughter, who frequently attends his shows. He remarked, "She's a very sociable kid. She likes to be where things are happening and she doesn't like being bored. When I was a kid I used to like going to restaurants where everyone was jolly and laughing, and she's like that too."

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