Today is the 20th birthday of Gorillaz

On March 26, 2001, a weird animated outfit called Gorillaz appeared with their first album. Murdoc, 2D, Russel, and Noodle have since become the most famous and successful virtual band the planet has ever seen.

Created by Blur’s Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, the project now has quite the resume. I quote from the press release:

  • 7 x albums 
  • 3 x compilation albums – G-Sides (2002), D-Sides (2007), The Singles Collection 2001–2011 (2011)
  • 1 x remix album – Laika Come Home (2002)
  • 43 x singles
  • 3 x DVDs – Phase One: Celebrity Take Down (2002), Demon Days Live (2006), Phase Two: Slowboat to Hades (2008)
  • 2 x documentary films – ‘Bananaz’ (2009), ‘Reject False Icons (2019)
  • Over 175 live shows, including festivals, in 35 countries to a combined audience of over 3.4 million.
  • Debut album Gorillaz (2001) went triple platinum in the UK.
  • Demon Days (2005) went six times platinum in the UK.
  • 24 million records sold worldwide to date.
  • Over 5 Billion total global Spotify streams to date. 
  • Awards and accolades include: Grammy Award x 1; MTV Video Music Award x 2; NME Award x 1; MTV Europe Music Award x 3; Billboard Video Music Award x 3; Brit Award x 1; Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity x 1; GAFFA Award (Danish) x 1; GQ Award x 1; Q Award x 4; BT Music Digital Award x 4; UK Music Video Award x 1; Webby Award x 3; BIMA Award x 1; Clio Award x 1; Ivor Novello Award x 1; BMI London Award x 2.
  • Nominated for 11 Brit Awards and won Best British Group at the 2018 Brit Awards.
  • First ever holographic live performance at the MTV Awards 2005 in Lisbon with De La Soul, ahead of a ground-breaking holographic live performance of Feel Good Inc. at 48th Annual Grammy Awards with Madonna in 2006.
  • 2 x books – Rise of the Ogre (2006) and Gorillaz Almanac (2020).
  • Escape to Plastic Beach Tour (2010) – the band’s first world tour which marked the first time the live band performed in view of the audience.
  • The Hewlett-directed music video for ‘Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)’ made use of YouTube’s 360-degree video format: https://gorill.az/360saturnzbarz
  • 2 x Demon Dayz music festivals on 10th June 2017 at Dreamland, Margate, followed by Los Angeles in October 2018.
  • Song Machine: Live From Kong – featuring a pioneering mix of animation and live performance – was enjoyed by over one million viewers in more than 120 countries tuned in across the three different livestreams in December 2020. 
  • The band is recognised by The Guinness Book Of World Records as the planet’s Most Successful Virtual Act.
  • The Jim Henson Creativity Honor which acknowledges a new creative voice or unique expression of an idea, was awarded to Gorillaz in 2005.

And here’s a list of acts who have appeared on Gorillaz songs:

6LACK, Abra, André 3000, Anthony Hamilton, Azekel, Bashy, Beck, Ben Mendelson, Benjamin Clementine, Bobby Womack, Bootie Brown, Brandon Markell Holmes, Carly Simon, CHAI, D.R.A.M., D12, Daley, Danny Brown, David Attenborough, De La Soul, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dennis Hopper, EarthGang, Ed Case, Elton John, Faia Younan, Fatoumata Diawara, George Benson, Georgia, GoldLink, Grace Jones, Graham Coxon, Gruff Rhys, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Ibrahim Ferrer, Ike Turner, Imani Vonshà, James Ford, James Murphy, Jamie Principle, Jean-Michel Jarre, Jehnny Beth, Joan As Police Woman, JPEGMafia, Kali Uchis, Kano, Kelela, Kid Koala, Kilo Kish, Leee John, Little Dragon, Little Simz, London Community Gospel Choir, Lou Reed, Mark E. Smith, Martina Topley-Bird, Mavis Staples, MF DOOM, Mick Jones, Miho Hatori, Mike Will Made It, Moonchild Sanelly, Mos Def, Neneh Cherry, Noel Gallagher, Octavian, Paul Simonon, Pauline Black, Peter Hook, Peven Everett, Phi Life Cypher, Popcaan, Pusha T, Rag’n’Bone Man, Ray BLK, Robert Smith, Roberto Fonseca, Roots Manuva, Roxani Arias, San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus, Schoolboy Q, Shaun Ryder, Sidiki Diabaté, Simon Tong, Sinfonia ViVA, Skepta, Slaves, Slowthai, Snoop Dogg, Soulchild, St. Vincent, Sweetie Irie, Terry Hall, The Bees, The Syrian National Orchestra, Tina Weymouth, Tony Allen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vince Staples, Yukimi Nagano, Zebra Katz.

Watch for a ton of reissues later this year.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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