Coldplay. Biography & Music | The most successful band of the 21st century
Coldplay have been together for over 25 years, selling 100 million records and filling the world’s biggest stadiums tour after tour. It’s time to find out how they started, what their albums mean, who’s the boss in the band, their personal lives and a story full of anecdotes and emotion.
Reading Time | 10 min
Listening Time | 1 h
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Coldplay Trembol Card
- 🗿 Name: Coldplay was created by its 4 members in the UK: Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion.
- 🎂 Year:Coldplay was founded in 1997.
- 👫 Genres: Pop Rock.
- ✍🏽 Autograph:
- 💿 Discography: Coldplay have 9 studio albums, many of which have tour versions, plus several EPs (short albums).
- 👬 Members: The four band members remain from the beginning: vocalist and pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion. Coldplay always say there is a fifth member, their creative director Phil Harvey.
- 🔗 Coldplay Official Website: coldplay.com
- 🗣 Coldplay Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
We are still obsessed with making songs that can be sung ad nauseam.
Chris Martin (Coldplay frontman)
Other music stories you’re going to love
Roxette. Swedish duo history
The Cranberries. Success and suffering
Phil Collins & Genesis. His amazing story
Coldplay | Biography and Music
Chris Martin was born in 1977 in Exeter, UK, the same country as his three bandmates, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Guy Berryman, whom he met at university and with whom he formed Coldplay in 1998.
From the first album, ‘Parachutes’, released in 2000, to ‘Music of the Spheres’, which was released in 2021, their career has only grown to sell more than 100 million records worldwide.
Their tours sell out in minutes, they are the biggest band of the century, they are among the richest musicians, but their history, too, has had difficult moments, both personal and professional. This is the full story of Coldplay.
Chapter 1 | Chris Martin’s childhood
Christopher Anthony John Martin, i.e. Chris Martin, the singer and co-founder of Coldplay, was born in Exeter, UK, on 2 March 1977, into a conservative Anglican 📿 family, headed by his father, Anthony Martin, an accountant and magistrate, and his mother, Alison Fleming, a music teacher.
- His childhood home was huge, with stables, a tennis court, a large expanse of lawn where Chris played with his 4 siblings.
- He was very keen on cricket and later on hockey 🏑
When he turned 7, his parents gave him his first instrument, a ukulele.
- By the time he was 11, in 1988, he had already composed his first song.
- One of the first songs he wrote was the instrumental ‘Electric Thunder‘. He played it with his boy band, Grandisson Ensemble.
At the age of 13 he was sent to boarding school.
- Chris Martin was very religious and somewhat naive, which meant he didn’t get on very well with his classmates.
- Chris is glad he experienced that because it toughened him up and convinced him that he wouldn’t be like the others 💪
At that time he was part of several school bands such as Floating Insomnia, Identity Crisis and at the age of 15 he joined The Rocking Honkies, playing keyboards for 2 years.
- It was at this time that he met Phil Harvey, who would become Coldplay’s manager, or as they say, the fifth member of the band.
In 1996 he entered University College London where he graduated with a degree in Ancient World Sciences.
- At the time, Chris was known for his long curly hair.
The university was to be the embryo of Coldplay, the place where the four band members met.
Chapter 2 | How did the members of Coldplay first meet?
The first member of Coldplay that Chris Martin met was his good friend Jonny Buckland.
- Chris calls him “Jonny Boy” or “Jay“.
- Buckland, born in London, started with his guitar 🎸 at the age of 11, encouraged by his brother. Later, at school, he would take lessons until he became a professional guitarist.
- He entered university at the age of 18, studying astronomy and mathematics. He stayed in the same hall of residence as Chris Martin, Ramsay Hall was its name. There they met, became friends and in 1996 they started composing together, forming the duo Pectoralz.
Next to join the band was bass player, Guy Berryman, who Chris met in a class they shared at university and who also lived in the same dorm.
- Guy was Scottish, had been playing bass since he was 16 and grew up listening to soul, groove and funk music on cassette. He also played trumpet and drums in a band called Time Out.
- In 1997 he began studying engineering at university which led him to meet Chris and Jonny.
They soon dropped the name Pectoralz and renamed themselves ‘Big Fat Noises‘ and recorded their first demo.
It was then, in July 1997, that the final piece of Coldplay, the drummer, would appear on the scene.
- Southampton-born Will Champion grew up in a family of teachers, both of archaeology, although his mother led a double life, also DJing under the pseudonym Champion Tunes.
- When Will was a young boy one of his neighbours gave him a drum kit, although he was more interested in other instruments 🎷🎸🎺🎻
- By the age of 8 he was playing piano and violin, and by 12 he was playing guitar and bass, being part of the school band Fat Hamster.
- In 1997 he began studying Anthropology, as life would have it, at the same university as Chris, Jonny and Guy.
Will was invited to a rehearsal in the flat Chris and Jonny shared. He hadn’t played drums for a long time, but he did great and joined the band.
Despite only being with them for a few days, Will organised the first gig at a pub called the Laurel Tree, playing to about 100 people, almost all of them friends.
- They weren’t clear on the name of the new band, so they quickly decided it would be ‘Starfish‘.
- The gig went well, although they did play one song twice 😂
What are Coldplay’s target lists?
Coldplay have always liked to make lists of their goals, and they still do to this day. The first one they wrote said rehearse, play 4 gigs and get signed to a record label. Guess what? They got them all.
Coldplay name origin
In 1998, when a friend of the band called Tim Crompton, who had a band called Coldplay, decided to leave the band, he suggested they adopt the name.
The origin of the name is a book of poems called ‘Child’s Reflections: Cold Play‘ by Philip Horky 📖
The members of Coldplay were still studying, working as waiters, but mostly playing in clubs.
In 1998, Phil Harvey, Chris’s friend who was already acting as their manager, financed their debut album, an EP called “Safety” with 3 songs.
- It cost £1500 and 500 copies were released.
- A music journalist who owned a record label called Fierce Panda, would help them release a second EP with another 3 songs in 1999. Its name, “Brothers and Sisters“.
They presented it for the first time in a pub called ‘The Bull and Gate’, there were quite a few music scouts there, among them the ones from the label they would sign a contract with for 5 albums, Parlophone Records ✏️
- They signed the music contract in Trafalgar Square and the publishing deal while riding a pedal boat on the lake in London’s Hyde Park.
They would release a third short album entitled “The Blue Room” which nearly ended Coldplay for good 😲
- During the recording of that EP, the band’s drummer, Will Champion, was sacked by Chris Martin. It was said that his drumming didn’t suit the producers, nor the other members of Coldplay.
- Luckily it was only a temporary thing, Chris quickly apologised and asked him to join them again. From then on Will became the anchor of the band.
Coldplay’s debut album, ‘Parachutes‘, with a very alternative and groundbreaking sound, would arrive in 2000, after 7 months of recording.
- The cover featured a globe, which the band bought for £10.
- To celebrate the release of Parachutes, Coldplay played their 100th gig at HMV record shop in Oxford Street.
They named it ‘parachutes‘ because the album included songs about starting and ending well, starting badly and ending well, or starting and ending badly. According to Chris Martin, the same thing can happen with parachutes.
- The album is dedicated to drummer Will Champion’s mother, who died of cancer that year.
- Parachutes included one of the band’s biggest hits, ‘Yellow‘.
- It received a Brit Award for British Album of the Year and a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
The third single would be the magnificent ‘Trouble‘.
Coldplay’s first major tour
In 2000 Coldplay embarked on their first headline tour, including a performance at Glastonbury Festival. Chris Martin commented:
Coldplay has to be the biggest and best band in the world.
To fulfil that purpose, they also established rules for running the band:
- Coldplay would be a democracy where all 4 members would have equal weight and anyone using hard drugs would be fired 💉
Parachutes would eventually reach number 12 in the UK’s best-selling albums of the 21st century.
Prior to their second album Coldplay released 2 short albums:
- Coldplay Acoustic: An album with 4 acoustic tracks which was given away with the British Sunday newspaper 🗞️, making it their biggest release.
- Mince Spies: A limited edition album with only 1000 copies, which included 3 tracks, among them their famous version of the Christmas song ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.
In 2002 finally came the 2nd album, ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘.
- It was not an easy recording, they were somewhat obsessed and under pressure to succeed. They said that even some rehearsals ended with some members threatening to leave Coldplay.
- In fact, when they had the album done, they decided to scrap it 🚮 because it sounded too much like the first one.
Everything changed when they wrote, ‘In My Place‘, which would later become the album’s title track.
- That song unlocked them to create the entire album, which was also inspired by the World Trade Center terrorist attack.
The album, whose title means “to do something impulsively” was full of songs of despair in counterpoint to Parachutes‘ calm lyrics. Chris said:
Songs are like fairy tales: they have a beginning and an end, and you can make it all work out perfectly. Real life doesn’t work that way.
Musically, the most popular singles were Clocks, about despair, and The Scientist, based on the George Harrison song ‘All Things Must Pass‘.
Coldplay In My Place
Coldplay The Scientist
With ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘ they went on their first 5-continent tour, with a huge light show and big screens, as well as the famous giant yellow balloons 🟡 that they released at the concerts for the audience to play with.
- The tour would serve to cement Coldplay’s live reputation, so they decided to immortalise the experience on a live DVD and CD called ‘Live 2003′.
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s relationship
Chris claimed that he became a singer because of two things, the influence of the Scottish band Travis, according to Martin “Travis invented Coldplay” and the second was to get laid.
At the age of 22 Chris was a virgin, although he said it was partly due to religious and confidence issues. In 2003, when he turned 25, he met actress Gwyneth Paltrow after a concert. Gwyneth said:
I was dying of embarrassment. Then we met in the dressing room and we never left each other’s side 👩❤️👨
They married in December 2003 and had their first daughter, Apple Blythe Alison Martin, a few months later.
- This prompted the band to create their alter ego, a group called The Nappies, who would even release a song, ‘I am your baby’s daddy‘.
- Chris and Gwyneth lived in London in a 33-room mansion.
In 2006 they would have their second child, Moses Martin. His name comes from a song Chris wrote for Gwyneth early in their relationship.
Coldplay members’ partners
Drummer Will Champion married Marianne Dark in 2003, a teacher with whom he has three children: Ava, Juno and Rex.
Similarly, bassist Guy Berryman married his childhood sweetheart, Joanna Briston, a yoga instructor and designer with whom he has a daughter named Nico, in 2004. Guy and Joanna would divorce after three years of marriage on good terms.
In 2009, Coldplay guitarist Jonny married his partner Chloe Lee-Evans, with whom he would have 2 children, Violet and Jonah.
Coldplay had taken a break, 18 months that they used to create what they called “the best thing anyone has ever heard“.
- The truth is that their third album, X&Y, released in the summer of 2015, was a milestone in Coldplay’s history.
- It was the best-selling album of the year and is the third best-selling album in UK history.
- Its first single, ‘Speed of Sound‘, inspired by Kate Bush’s song ‘Running Up That Hill‘, reached No.1 in 20 countries.
The album has clear influences of electronic music, as in the great track ‘Talk‘, although the biggest difference from previous work is in the lyrics. For the first time Chris Martin sings in the second person, i.e. using “you” instead of “I“.
Coldplay Speed of Sound
Coldplay Fix You
The album included one of the songs Coldplay fans love most, the ballad, ‘Fix You‘ ⚙️
- The track is inspired by Chris’ wife Gwyneth and what she went through when her father died of a heart attack while they were celebrating her birthday.
The album took them on an almost 2 year tour, while winning Best Album of the Year again and contributing to the charity album ‘War Child’s Help!: A Day in the Life‘ with ‘How You See the World‘.
- During the tour, Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman’s alcohol problems from his student days caused him to fall out with his bandmates, but fortunately he overcame them.
La parte final de la gira en 2007 los llevó por Latinoamérica en lo Coldplay recuerda como los mejores conciertos de su vida.
- Esa parte del tour influenció enormemente en su nuevo álbum.
- Hasta en el título del nuevo disco vendría de una visita de la banda al museo de Frida Khalo en Ciudad de México, donde está el cuadro llamado Viva La Vida.
Este álbum nace del deseo de pasar del blanco y negro al color, afirmaba Chris Martin
Before the album they released the single ‘Violet Hill‘, our favourite Coldplay song, what guitar riffs, what bluesy touches, what drums, what a low tone in Chris’s voice!
- The most successful song of the album was ‘Viva la Vida’.
- It became the best-selling song on iTunes in 2008 and was Coldplay’s first number 1 on the American Billboard.
Guitarist Joe Satriani sued Coldplay claiming that Viva la Vida was a copy of his 2004 song, ‘If I Could Fly‘. What do you think? The fact is that they reached a private settlement and never spoke of it again 💷
Coldplay Viva la Vida
The album was eventually called, ‘Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends‘, because it is an album characterised by loss and uncertainty, travel and time, happiness and regret, something bipolar.
- It was the best-selling album in the world in 2008 and one of the most downloaded albums in history.
- Shortly afterwards they would release an extended version with the EP ‘Prospekt’s March’, and a live album entitled ‘LeftRightLeftRightLeft‘ recorded during the tour.
Undoubtedly, Viva la Vida is Coldplay’s most experimental album 🧪, the one where they lost their fear of taking risks and used church organs, as on ‘Lost! ‘, North African-style strings and tablas, as in ‘Yes‘, flamenco handclaps, as in ‘Cemeteries Of London‘, the vertigo of ‘Lovers In Japan‘, the sweet carnal happiness of ‘Strawberry Swing’, the insistent hope of ‘42′ or the shuddering group-sung climax of ‘Death And All His Friends‘, not to mention the weeping strings of an ode to lost glories, as in ‘Viva La Vida‘.
Coldplay kicked off the 2010s with a Christmas track ‘Christmas Lights‘ 🎄
Back in 2011 Coldplay finished recording their new album ‘Mylo Xyloto‘, an album that was about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don’t like, in the words of Chris Martin.
- What does ‘Mylo Xyloto‘ mean? It doesn’t mean anything. They made it up because they didn’t want there to be any preconceived ideas when listening to the album.
- When they released the video for one of their tracks ‘Hurts Like Heaven‘, they created a character called Mylo Xyloto.
- Fictional comics telling the story of Mylo Xyloto would later be published.
The album is an explosion of joy, passion and freedom of expression, as evidenced by ‘Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall‘, the first single from the album, and tracks such as ‘Paradise‘ and ‘Princess of China‘ with Rihanna.
- In 2012 Coldplay played at the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games.
At the time Chris confessed that he had been suffering from tinnitus for 10 years 🦻 a perception of noise in his ears that doctors told him could end his career.
- Since then, he and the rest of the band members started protecting their ears at concerts with earplugs.
The first concert of the Mylo Xyloto tour was at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid. It was streamed live on the internet to millions of people around the world, briefly crashing YouTube.
- The tour grossed more than 171 million.
Coldplay A Sky Full of Stars
Back in 2013, Coldplay released a track called ‘Atlas’, as part of the soundtrack to the film ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’.
It would not be until 2014 that the band’s sixth album, Ghost Stories, would be released.
- In Chris Martin’s words, the album explores the idea of past actions and the effects they can have on the future and one’s capacity for unconditional love.
- The most important tracks were ‘Magic’ and above all ‘A Sky Full Of Stars‘, another Coldplay anthem and a must-have party moment at all their concerts 🎊
The album sold around 4 million worldwide, far from their best records, but those were other times where Spotify was beginning to dominate. In fact, the streaming platform named them the band with the most plays in the world in 2014.
Chris Martin divorce
In 2014 Chris Martin separated from his wife Gwyneth Paltrow, although the two remain close friends.
Chris suffered from depression for a year, during which time he wrote several songs for Ghost Stories.
- Since then Chris has stopped being totally vegetarian, although he still keeps great because he regularly goes to the gym, practices yoga and one day a week he doesn’t eat, which he says keeps him more focused and healthy 🥗
Meanwhile, Coldplay bassist Guy started a relationship with Dutch model Keshia Gerrits, with whom he would have two children: Lucien and Bea.
In 2015 Coldplay did a special fundraising project singing with the cast of Game of Thrones ⚔️. Quite a spectacle.
- Both Chris Martin and the band have a very close relationship with associations such as Global Citizen and Oxfam, which fight against poverty in the world. Beyond that, the band donates 10% of all their profits to charity.
In the meantime, they composed a precise song called ‘Miracles‘ for Angelina Jolie’s World War II film ‘Unbroken‘.
Coldplay Game of Thrones: The Musical
Coldplay A Head Full of Dreams
‘A Head Full of Dreams‘ was released in 2015, launched with the magnificent ‘Adventure of a Lifetime‘, whose legendary video depicts the band members as chimpanzees.
- The album features Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Noel Gallagher, Tove Lo and even Barack Obama.
A Head Full of Dreams was all colour 🎨 just the opposite of its predecessor ‘Ghost Stories‘. As Chris said, they had made an album to “move the feet“.
- The album is full of hits like ‘A head full of dreams‘, the magnificent ‘Hymn for the Weekend‘ sung with Beyoncé, ‘Up&Up‘, the ballad ‘Everglow’, ‘Birds‘ and the smash ‘Fun’ with Tove Lo.
The tour took them around the world again, stopping off to headline the 2016 Super Bowl half-time show alongside Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
- The show was a big challenge because Coldplay uses a lot of lighting effects, which they couldn’t use for the daytime game, so they hired a huge troupe of dancers choreographed with flowers that formed various kaleidoscopic patterns.
- During the performance, the entire audience held up cards that together read “Believe in Love“.
Coldplay Super Bowl 2016 show
Another legendary moment on the tour was when they recreated a scene from Back to the Future with Michael J. Fox at their concert in New Jersey.
- The A Head Full of Dreams Tour grossed over 523 million, making it the third highest grossing concert tour of all time 🎫
Coldplay had a few songs left over that they couldn’t incorporate into the album so as not to make it too long. They don’t like their albums to be longer than 45 minutes, so in 2017 they released an EP called ‘Kaleidoscope‘.
- It included 5 tracks, including a remix of their most streamed song, the collaboration with The Chainsmokers, ‘Something Just Like This’.
They also released a live album, ‘Live in Buenos Aires‘ and under the pseudonym ‘Los Unidades’ sang on a charity EP called ‘Global Citizen – EP 1‘.
In 2017, Chris Martin began a relationship with American actress Dakota Johnson, known for the film ‘50 Shades of Grey‘.
It would be a while before 2019, in a letter sent to fans, the band announced their eighth studio album, Everyday Life.
- A double album consisting of 2 parts: Sunrise, which features songs about complicated situations, and Sunset which explains how to get around those situations.
- It was performed in Amman, Jordan via a live concert broadcast on YouTube at sunrise and sunset, just like the 2 parts of the album.
- ‘Orphans‘ and ‘Arabesque‘ were the lead singles.
With swear words and without a tour
Everyday Life was the first album to use swear words in some songs.
The way Coldplay works, normally the idea for the song comes from Chris Martin, who usually teaches it to Jonny Buckland, who adds a bit of guitar, from there it goes to the bass player, Guy Berryman, who can discard the song or contribute something and continue with it until the last filter, which is the drummer Will Champion, who is called the “anchor” of Coldplay. He ensures that the essence of Coldplay is maintained.
- Will had never let swear words in a song before, until Everyday Life, where they fit in perfectly in his opinion.
It was also the first album they didn’t tour with, because the band was committed to making their tours sustainable 🌀 completely carbon neutral, so they set about the task of making it happen.
Coldplay, BTS My Universe
- For the next album they enlisted the world’s most famous producer, Max Martin.
The first single, ‘Higher Power‘, was broadcast from the International Space Station, leading into their new album released in 2021, Music of the Spheres.
- The biggest hit was the collaborative track with popular South Korean K-pop group BTS, ‘My Universe’ which debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.
- Also featuring on the album are Selena Gomez on ‘Let Somebody Go‘, and We Are King and Jacob Collier on ‘Human Heart‘.
- The album closes with ‘Coloratura‘, a 10-minute progressive rock ballad, which is the longest song ever made by Coldplay.
The album has a space theme where The Spheres 🪐 is a fictional planetary system with planets, satellites, star and even a nebula, each represented by a track on the album.
After 2 years of work, Coldplay was finally ready to go on tour without polluting: kinetic floors, bicycles to charge energy, everything in the show runs on renewable energy.
- That’s how they would start the Music of the Spheres World Tour, where Coldplay will also plant a tree for every ticket sold 🌳
According to Chris Martin Coldplay will release 3 more albums by 2025, one of them being a kind of musical, and the last one a homonymous album returning to their roots.
- He also indicated that the band will continue to be active with smaller releases and world tours after 2025.