Made in Bloomsbury: Coldplay
UCL gave birth to Coldplay, who gave birth to five number one albums. Kris Lavin takes a quick look at UCL’s most successful musical offspring.
UCL's long list of notable alumni reads like a who's who of awesomeness, bar the odd suicide bomber here and there. It's pretty much identical to the list of people I'd turn gay for. Gandhi, Alex Zane, Jonathan Dimbleby, Robert Browning – who wouldn't? Yeah. Exactly. And the female graduates aren't bad either – I'm looking at you, Justine Frischmann.
Amongst this rabble of talent and fame is a group of four fairly ordinary-looking lads. They met in the hallowed corridors of Ramsay Hall in 1996, where they would jam with guitars in the acoustically resonant stairwell of the New York block. Two years later, after narrowly avoiding settling on the names of Pectoralz and Starfish, they formed a band called Coldplay, and a British institution was born.
In an interview with Steve Lamacq on Radio 2, lead guitarist and former maths student Jonny Buckland reflected fondly on his time at UCL. The striking thing is, it doesn't sound all that different from anybody else's experience here: “I can remember meeting Will for the first time and I can remember meeting Chris for the first time. Chris was running up and down the corridor with this really long curly mop and I thought he was a bit mad, a bit wacky and Will was very nice. I can’t remember meeting Guy, I think he always used to be drunk.”
Aww, isn't that sweet? The best thing about the band's story is how relatable it is. Now they're all multi-millionaires, and Chris Martin's married to Gwyneth Paltrow, and Coldplay has only recently become the third band in British chart history to debut at number one with its first five albums. Whether you like it or not, Coldplay is one of the most successful bands around, and its members started out just like us.
But to what can they owe their success? Luck? Musical talent? Good management? Probably. Although one thing's for sure: if it hadn't been for Ramsay Hall, or UCL, Coldplay as we know it wouldn't exist. Perhaps, in an alternate universe, Chris Martin went to Royal Holloway and started a melodic death metal band called Hotplay which took the world by storm. I doubt it though.