Graham Leslie Coxon (also known as G. Coxon) (born 12 March 1969) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter. He came to prominence as the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist of rock band Blur, and is also a critically acclaimed solo artist, having recorded seven solo albums.
His artistic and musical contribution is featured on all seven of Blur's studio albums, from 1991's Leisure to 2003's Think Tank. Although credited as a songwriter on most Blur tracks, his most significant lyrical contributions appeared on the hit singles "Tender" and "Coffee & TV"; a number of tracks in the band's catalogue were also penned mainly by Coxon. The cover of 1999's 13 was designed by Coxon.
In 2002, he left Blur, following a bitter dispute with the other members, notably Damon Albarn. As a result, he played guitar and was credited as a songwriter on only the final track for the following year's Think Tank. In September 2007, Graham Coxon rejoined the band and in late 2008 Damon Albarn announced that the band would reunite 2009 for a number of shows.
Of Coxon's seven solo albums, four of them were recorded while a member of the band. Coxon is capable of playing several other instruments, besides guitar, and is famous for recording his albums single-handedly, without much help from session musicians. An innovative lead guitarist, other notable British guitarists such as Jonny Greenwood and Noel Gallagher have lauded Coxon's musicality and talent, with the latter calling him "the most gifted guitarist of his generation." He was voted the 15th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll.
Solo work (1998-present)
Coxon had already released three solo albums while as a member of Blur before his 2002 departure. His first, released on his own Transcopic label was The Sky is Too High in 1998, a ramshackle mixture of English folk music and 1960s-style garage rock, influenced by Billy Childish. This was followed by the more extreme The Golden D in 2000 and the thoughtful Dylan-Drakesque Crow Sit on Blood Tree (2001). After going solo full time, he released The Kiss of Morning in 2002. The album proved to be his most accessible to date and was promoted with the single "Escape Song" which proved to be an interesting hybrid of Syd Barrett's "Octopus" and progressive rock trail-blazers The Nice. In 2004, Coxon released his fifth solo album Happiness in Magazines, produced by ex-Blur and The Smiths producer Stephen Street. This proved to be his most successful album to date, and he received the NME Award for 'Best Solo Artist' in 2005.
In March 2006 he released his sixth solo album, called Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, again produced by Stephen Street. It marks Coxon's first album away from his now-defunct indie label 'Transcopic'. The LP was preceded by the singles "Standing On My Own Again" on 27 February and "You & I". Coxon embarked on a tour of the UK, starting at Newcastle University. He also got involved in a single supporting the England national football team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The song was a re-working of the Sham 69 hit "Hurry Up Harry", and was released as "Sham 69 and The Special Assembly" (as well as Coxon and Sham 69, Virgin Radio DJ Christian O'Connell, who had run a competition on his show to find a band to record a song in support of the team, was involved in the recording of the song). "Hurry Up England" entered the UK Singles Chart at #10.
In October 2006, Coxon released a double live album Burnt to Bitz: At the Astoria immediately after his sold-out London Astoria show. The album features 27 songs, with at least one song from each of his albums. In July 2007 Coxon released a single with Paul Weller, called "This Old Town". The single peaked at #39 in the UK Singles Chart.
Coxon's seventh 15-track studio album titled The Spinning Top, produced again by Stephen Street, was released on 11 May 2009. Coxon says the LP, which is primarily acoustic, follows a narrative - the story of a man from birth to death. "The album is mainly an acoustic journey although there is, of course, some explosive electric guitar action," he explained. "There are some guests too! Robyn Hitchcock supplies some counter-attack guitar, Jas Singh plays dilruba and jori with his friends Gurjit Sembhi on taus and Jaskase Singh on esraj. Danny Thompson plays the legendary Victoria, Graham Fox gives plenty of swing on the drums and sizzle cymbals and Louis Vause tinkles the ivories." Pre-release response has been very positive, with Monday Field of Frank Booth Review dubbing the album "a staggering artistic achievement, and Coxon’s best solo release to date."
Transcopic and other contributions
Graham's independent label, Transcopic, was co-managed with his good friend, and then business partner, Jamie Davis. Jamie now runs Independent label Ark Recordings. Graham's artistic influence was evident across all aspects of the record label. Graham illustrated and designed all of his own album art, and collaborated with his good friend and creative director, Nick Craske creating abstract digital work for the release of The Spinning Top and filmed two music videos, Sorrow's Army & In The Morning. Graham also continued painting a series of personal work, most of which remained unseen until 2004, when he exhibited at the ICA in London.
Coxon has also been involved in remixing other peoples tracks, including Idlewild and Lowgold both of which were released as b-sides and the latter remix was later re-released on the bands anthology release Keep Music Miserable.
In September 2006 Coxon revealed a musical soundscape created especially for "Verheaven" an exhibition at London's Riflemaker Gallery of the work of artist Julie Verhoeven.
Coxon appears on John McCusker's Under One Sky, providing the song "All Has Gone".
In 2009, Coxon was heavily involved in the creation of the Pete Doherty solo album Grace/Wastelands. But Doherty has entered a period of sobriety, during which he holed up with Coxon to work on his debut solo album, Grace/Wasteland, (released 24 March 2009) a diverse collection of 12 songs that bounce between reggae and Doherty's standard post-punk. Coxon played on all but one track on the album.
Musicality and instruments
In his solo albums Coxon plays nearly all of the instruments. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood praised Coxon's musicality and talent: "Anything that has more of Graham's guitar playing, I'm bound to like." Noel Gallagher of Oasis has described Coxon as one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation.
During his days in Blur, Graham was mostly seen using a Fender Telecaster guitar. In earlier years (such as the Leisure era) he was better known for using a Gibson Les Paul Custom, which he would also use for later songs such as "Trimm Trabb" (although he used different guitars for songs such as "Sing" or "Oily Water" which he would originally have used a Les Paul for). He also made considerable use of effects pedals such as distortion (most notably "Song 2") and delay (a significant example being "Essex Dogs"). Graham himself has admitted that he got a bit greedy with Telecasters. These days, Graham often uses more than one guitar whilst performing his solo work, Gibson SGs being one of them, and a Burns London Sonic.
Other artistic endeavours
Apart from being a musician, Coxon is also a visual artist, and he designs all of his album sleeves. He has also designed album sleeves for other artists. He studied fine art at Goldsmiths College for around a year in 1988, leaving to pursue his musical career with Blur. In his time there he mixed with upcoming talents such as Damien Hirst, Michael Landy, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Abigail Lane, some of the future leading lights of the Britart movement.
In July 2006, Graham Coxon wrote and had published a foreword for a new edition of Herman Hesse's novel, Narcissus and Goldmund. His work also featured on the cover of English folk singer Kate Rusby's album 'The Girl Who Couldn't Fly'.
The Sky Is Too High (1998) #31 (UK)
The Golden D (2000)
Crow Sit on Blood Tree (2001)
The Kiss of Morning (2002)
Happiness in Magazines (2004) #19 (UK)
Love Travels at Illegal Speeds (2006) #24 (UK)
The Spinning Top (2009) #36 (UK)
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