"Eighty per cent of success is just showing up." - Woody Allen
Alex James was born November 21, 1968 in Bournemouth, England.
In the Blur bio, 3862 Days, it's
described as "a place where people go to die." The description comes from the fact that Bournemouth
is a resort town with a high number of people who go there to retire. Alex described it as a seaside
town with "lots of opportunities for vandalism." His father was a salesman who sold fork lifts and
his mother did volunteer work. I've also heard that she ran a book shop but I've never seen it
confirmed. He has one younger sister, Deborah, who he named.
His grandfather had a guest house in the centre of town, and when his grandfather died, his family moved into
it. His first brush with music was when his father brought a piano downstairs when Alex was 10. Alex
has described watching his father play it and being stunned because he had no idea his father could
do that. His first instrument was a violin, which he's said is the worst instrument to start a kid
on because it's so hard.
He bought a £100 bass when he was 16, mostly as an ornament, and is the only member of Blur without
classical training. His early bands included Mr. Pangs Big Bangs. He was a smart kid but
didn't do as well in school as he could have because he didn't pay very much attention. Despite his
apathy, he managed to attain 13 O levels and three A levels. It was also in this town, in his late
teens, that he met Justine Andrew, who would be his girlfriend on and off for the next 15 years.
From an Independent article:
He was born and brought up in Bournemouth. He had, he says, "a nice middle-class
childhood by the sea." His mother, Kelly, always did volunteer work. "My mother
is a very good person. A books-on-wheels trouper." His father, Jason, dealt in
waste-compactors and is "a handsome bugger who now loves The Ivy." Music was not
a big feature of Alex's early life. He can only ever remember doing Andrew Lloyd
Webber at school, "which is maybe why I want to shoot him now." Still, he got
into New Order in a big way when he was a teenager. "Bernard Sumner opened my
eyes to poetry. 'Tell me now, how do I feel.' What a great line for a
15-year-old." Actually, he's never been that much into poetry. "Although I have
recently been reading some Blakey bits and bobs, just in case anyone asks."
He took a year off between high school and college, working in places like the cheese counter at
Safeway. (That must have been good for business.) He eventually moved to London to attend Goldsmith's
College, where he studied French. One of the first people he saw there was Graham Coxon, as they were
both getting out of their parents cars. Alex has said that he thought Graham was better looking when
he first saw him. (Right! Okay, sorry...) He thought Damon was "an obnoxious, arrogant know-it-all
and I told him as much. He's an exceptional character, though." Damon was in a band with Dave and
Circus, and Alex told him he thought their music was shit.
He bought himself a bass at 16, and started strumming in bands, but no one
particularly expected it to lead anywhere. It seemed much more likely that he'd
have an academic career. He'd always done well at school. He got 13 O-levels and
there was every reason to think he'd end up at Oxford. But then he messed up his
A-levels. He got a D and E and a fail. Were you upset when you opened the
notifying letter? "Nah," he says. "I was acid tripping at the time."
Alex joined Dave, Graham and Damon to form Seymour, a name derived from J.D. Salinger's
Seymour: An Introduction. The name was later changed to Blur. Blur has released six albums:
Leisure, Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur and 13, in addition to a best of compilation. Alex has also formed a side
project called Me Me Me with Stephen Duffy, and Fat Les with actor Keith Allen and artist Damien
Hirst. They've released large and slightly whacked-out football anthems like "Vindaloo" and "Who Invented Fish
Alex was recently involved in a British space exploration program called Beagle
2. He also likes to fly and owns an airplane with Dave. He and Dave also like to play bridge. He seems to
go wherever his curiosity takes him, which is generallly to science and math-related things, analyzing alcohol
and, more recently, yoga. He is married to video producer Claire Neate and they had a son in Feb. 2004.
Vindaloo (single) - June 1998
Naughty Christmas (Goblin in the Office) (single) - Dec. 1998
Jerusalem (single) - June 2000
Who Invented Fish and Chips (single) - June 2002
Me Me Me
Hanging Around (three-song single) - features Hanging Around, Hollywood Wives and Tabitha's Island,
Hang It On Your Heart (single) - co-written by Alex James, 1997
Blur is also featured on the Kissin' Time album.
Read My Lips (album) - Move This Mountain co-written and co-produced by Alex and features him
on bass. I Believe co-produced by Alex and features him on Bass, 2001
Shoot From the Hip (album) - Love Is It Love co-written by Alex and features him on bass, 2003
I Love My Friends (album) - contributes bass on Eucharist, Lover's Beware, Something Good and
One Day One of These Fucks Will Change Your Life
Sugar High (single) - Tempus Fugit features Alex.
Mojo - Alex is featured on the tracks Stone Cold Stroll and Ooh My Soul, 1998
There's Only One Jimmy Grimble - Blue Moon and Do You Believe feature Alex, 2000