Chris MartinChristopher Anthony John Martin (born 2 March 1977) is a British singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and philanthropist. He is the lead singer and co-founder of the rock band Coldplay. Born in Exeter, Devon, Martin went to University College London, where he formed a rock band with Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion in 1996 called Starfish, which was eventually renamed Coldplay in 1998.
Martin, along with the other Coldplay members, achieved worldwide fame with the release of the band's song "Yellow" in 2000, a song that also earned the band their first Grammy Award nomination in the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. The band then received accolades for their subsequent albums including A Rush of Blood to the Head and Viva la Vida, winning a Grammy Award for both and a Brit Award for the former. Coldplay have sold over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Martin appeared on Debrett's 2017 list of the most influential people in the United Kingdom.
Early life and educationChristopher Anthony John Martin was born on 2 March 1977 in Exeter, Devon, England, and is the oldest of five children. His father, Anthony John Martin, of Whitestone House, Exeter, is a retired chartered accountant, and his mother, Alison Martin who hails from Zimbabwe, is a music teacher. His family's caravan and motorhome sales business, Martins of Exeter, was founded by his grandfather John Besley Martin, CBE (a High Sheriff-also Mayor in 1968 of Exeter), in 1929, sold by his father to a former employee in 1999. William Willett, the man who campaigned for and made daylight saving time a recognised practice, was Martin's great-great-grandfather. Martin's paternal aunt Elisabeth Jane (daughter of John Besley Martin) married Hon. Julian George Winston Sandys, son of Conservative politician Duncan Sandys by his wife Diana Churchill, daughter of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Conservative politician David Martin is his paternal uncle.
Martin was educated at the pre-preparatory Hylton School and the preparatory Exeter Cathedral School, where he found his passion for music. After Exeter Cathedral School, Martin boarded at Sherborne School in Dorset, where he met future Coldplay manager Phil Harvey.
Martin continued his studies at University College London (UCL), staying at Ramsay Hall, where he read Ancient World Studies and graduated with first-class honours in Greek and Latin. At UCL, Martin met his future Coldplay bandmates Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion.
ColdplayWhile studying at University College London, Martin met Jonny Buckland and the two decided to form a band, with Martin as lead singer and Buckland as lead guitarist. They were joined by Guy Berryman as their bass player and Will Champion as their drummer. In 1996, they formed the rock band Coldplay, originally known as Pectoralz, later changed to Starfish temporarily until finally they were offered the name Coldplay by another band who did not want the name anymore.
Since the release of their debut album Parachutes in 2000, the band has had internationally recognised fame and success. Their song "Yellow", from Parachutes, entered the charts at Number 4 and carried Coldplay to their aforementioned fame. To date, they have released eight studio albums in total including Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, X&Y, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, Mylo Xyloto, Ghost Stories, A Head Full of Dreams, and Everyday Life. They also released several EP's at the beginning of their creation including Safety and The Blue Room.
Martin has written songs for a variety of acts including Embrace ("Gravity") and Jamelia ("See It in a Boy's Eyes", co-written with Coldplay producer Rik Simpson). Martin has also collaborated with Ron Sexsmith, Faultline, the Streets, and Ian McCulloch. He also sang a part of the vocals for the Band Aid 20 single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at the end of 2004. In 2005, Martin collaborated with Nelly Furtado on the track "All Good Things (Come to an End)", for her 2006 album, Loose. The two were once rumoured to be a couple, after they both performed at Glastonbury in 2002. Nelly Furtado joked about it, saying, "Yeah, he's my boyfriend—he just doesn't know it yet".
Martin's fascination with hip hop was shown in mid-2006 when he collaborated with rapper Jay-Z for the rapper's comeback album Kingdom Come after the two met earlier in the year. Martin put some chords together for a song known as "Beach Chair" and sent them to Jay-Z who enlisted the help of hip-hop producer Dr. Dre to mix it. Coldplay producer Rik Simpson conceived and performed the drum beats. The song was performed on 27 September 2006 by the two during Jay-Z's European tour at Royal Albert Hall. Martin has also worked on a solo collaboration with Kanye West, with whom he shared an impromptu jam session during a 2006 concert at Abbey Road Studios. He performed the chorus of "Homecoming", from Kanye West's album Graduation.
In 2015, Martin collaborated with DJ Avicii to work on two new tracks for his album, Stories. Their first collaboration was officially named "Heaven". Martin wrote the lyrics, Avicii did the production, and Simon Aldred of Cherry Ghost was the vocalist. He also provided the vocals for Avicii's True Believer, also in Stories. In September 2016, the Chainsmokers shared two short clips of an upcoming song featuring vocals from Martin. The song, "Something Just like This", was released on 22 February 2017, reaching number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In February 2017, Martin performed “A Different Corner” at the 2017 Brit Awards in tribute to George Michael. A song he co-wrote called "Homesick" appears on Dua Lipa's self-titled debut album, which was released in June 2017. In 2019, Martin was featured on Avicii's posthumous album Tim. The song "Heaven" features vocals by Martin and was written by Avicii and Martin prior to Avicii's death.
Influences and favourite musiciansThe main influence on Martin and Coldplay is the Scottish rock band Travis, with Martin crediting the band for the creation of his own band.
The Irish rock band U2 is another important influence on Martin both musically and politically. Martin wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" on the band, saying: "I don't buy weekend tickets to Ireland and hang out in front of their gates, but U2 are the only band whose entire catalogue I know by heart. The first song on The Unforgettable Fire, "A Sort of Homecoming", I know backward and forward—it's so rousing, brilliant, and beautiful. It's one of the first songs I played to my unborn baby." Martin also comments on Bono's effect on his own charity and political involvement; he is even known to joke with friends referring to himself as "Crono".
Martin and Coldplay were also greatly influenced by the English rock band Radiohead. Speaking to Rolling Stone Magazine, Martin said of Radiohead: "Sometimes I feel like they cleared a path with a machete, and we came afterward and put up a strip mall... I would still give my left ball to write anything as good as OK Computer."
Martin is very vocal about his love for Norwegian new wave/Synthpop band a-ha. In 2005 he stated the following in an interview: "I found myself in Amsterdam the other day and I put a-ha's first record on. I just remembered how much I loved it. It's incredible songwriting. Everyone asks what inspired us, what we've been trying to steal from and what we listened to as we were growing up—the first band I ever loved was a-ha." Martin has also performed live together with Magne Furuholmen of a-ha, introducing him as "the best keyboard player in the world". In November 2011, he stated that "back when we didn't have any hits of our own we used to play a-ha songs."
Martin is also known to be a fan of the English rock bands Oasis and Muse, Irish pop group Westlife, English-Irish girl group Girls Aloud, English pop group Take That, and Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire. In 2014, Martin inducted Peter Gabriel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his solo career, and performed live with the former Genesis lead singer. Martin is also close friends with the musical couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
Coldplay performed R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming" with Michael Stipe during their Austin City Limits performance in 2005, as a part of the Twisted Logic Tour. Martin went on to call "Nightswimming" "the greatest song ever written". He has called Richard Ashcroft, formerly of the Verve, "the best singer in the world". He also admires the lyrics of Morrissey.
Martin was quoted as calling Coldplay's song "Shiver" a rip-off Jeff Buckley influenced by Buckley's song "Grace".
In 2008, Coldplay released an alternate music video for Viva la Vida directed by Anton Corbijn as a tribute to the Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence", one, directed by Corbijn himself in 1990. It shows Martin dressed as a king like Dave Gahan did in the original video. The band stated: "This is our attempt at a video cover version, made out of love for Depeche Mode and the genius of Anton Corbijn".
Other endeavoursMartin and Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland made cameo appearances in the film Shaun of the Dead as supporters of the fictional charity ZombAid, with Martin having a second cameo in the film as a Zombie. In 2006 Martin had a cameo role in the second series, episode four, of the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant created comedy Extras. He also appears singing in the closing credits of the 2009 Sacha Baron Cohen film Brüno; along with Bono, Sting, Slash, Snoop Dogg, and Elton John.
In March 2015, Martin attended the televised launch of music streaming service Tidal via a video link, and revealed himself, along with other notable artists, as a shareholder in the company. In June 2015, Martin performed "Til Kingdom Come" at the funeral Mass of Beau Biden, son of United States Vice-President Joe Biden, after learning that Biden was a fan of his. In August 2017, Martin performed a live solo piano rendition of "Crawling" by Linkin Park. The performance was a tribute to Linkin Park's lead singer Chester Bennington, who died by suicide the previous month.
PoliticsMartin has been particularly outspoken on issues of fair trade and has campaigned for Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign. He travelled to Ghana and Haiti to meet farmers and view the effects of unfair trade practices. When performing he usually has variations of "Make Trade Fair", "MTF" or an equal sign written on the back of his left hand and the letters "MTF" can be seen emblazoned on his piano. He was a vocal critic of US President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. During the Teenage Cancer Trust show at London's Royal Albert Hall on 24 March 2003, he encouraged the sell-out crowd to "sing against war". He was a strong supporter of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, most notably during his acceptance speech for the 2004 Grammy Awards Record of the Year, accepting for "Clocks". He supported Obama for president in 2008, giving a shout-out at the end of a performance of "Yellow" on 25 October 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live.
On 1 April 2006 The Guardian reported that Martin was backing the British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, and had written a new theme song for the party titled "Talk to David". This was later revealed to be an April Fool's joke. While touring Australia in March 2009, Martin and the rest of Coldplay were the opening act at the Sound Relief benefit concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, for the victims of bushfires and floods in Victoria and Queensland. Martin appeared in a video for the "Robin Hood Tax" campaign, which proposes a tax on stock trades in the United States. This tax is aimed at levelling the field between the so-called "1% and 99%". In June 2016, Martin supported Vote Remain in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.
PhilanthropyOn 12 December 2012, Martin performed as a part of the "12 12 12 Concert" which was held as a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. He performed "Viva La Vida", the R.E.M. song "Losing My Religion" with former R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, and "Us Against the World". Other performers in the show included Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, the Who, Kanye West, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. On 15 November 2014, Martin joined charity group Band Aid 30, performing alongside British and Irish pop acts on the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, to raise money for the 2014 Ebola crisis in Western Africa—this was the second time Martin has contributed to a Band Aid recording having performed in the 2004 version.
Martin is a supporter of the Love Button Movement, an organisation that fosters loving acts of kindness, founded in 2013 by two doctors, Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami, to "help transform and uplift the lives of our united human family". After the 2018 tragic events in Parkland, Florida, Martin went to meet with survivors and their families as a part of the Love Button Global Movement holding a mission of spreading the message of love. Martin was also instrumental at supplying 75,000 attendees of Super Bowl 50 with their own Love Button. During the halftime of that show, people held up coloured placards to reveal the message, Believe in Love.
Martin became the creative director of the newly established Global Citizen Festival in 2015, a role he plans to fulfil for 15 years. The festival was created in 2012 to mark the establishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a "to-do list" of 17 tasks to end extreme global poverty by the year 2030; with Martin consulting Band Aid founder Bob Geldof on the role. The 2015 festival was held on Central Park's Great Lawn in New York on 26 September and featured performances by Coldplay, Beyoncé, Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran. It was broadcast on NBC in the US on 27 September, and the BBC in the UK on 28 September. It was reported that Martin became the Innocence Project's Artists' Committee as an Innocence Ambassador on 5 February 2016.
Even with a £94 million net worth to his name, Martin still continues a habit that his mother instilled in him at a young age – sharing. “My mum gives me £3 a week but I only get £2.70,” Martin said on an interview with Australia's Today show. He explained that ever since the release of their first album Parachutes in 2000, the band has been donating ten percent of their earnings to 28 different charities including 21st Century Leaders, Amnesty International, Mercy Corps, Make Fair Trade, Red Cross, War Child, and many more. Along with performing with Coldplay at charity concerts and promoting humanitarian organisations while on tour, Martin's philanthropic efforts extend beyond monetary donations. He has been an active supporter of the fair trade movement, having made multiple trips accompanying Oxfam to Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico in efforts to speak with local farmers about pushing for fair trade policies. Most recently, in a report by The Guardian, Coldplay has also agreed to support Moas, a charity that focuses on helping refugees and migrants escape from war and persecution in the middle east, by starring in their fundraising film.
Personal lifePETA named him the World's Sexiest Vegetarian in 2005. However, he began eating meat again after his split with Gwyneth Paltrow. Martin is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club. According to an article released by Quartz in May 2018, Martin has an estimated wealth of £94 million.
In February 2020, a cassette tape was discovered by a former fellow pupil of Martin's. It contained a three-minute instrumental piece entitled "Electric Thunder", which was composed by Martin, aged 12, at Exeter Cathedral School. Martin played keyboards on the track, with other pupils in a group called Grandisson Ensemble. The cassette was expected to make up to £600 at auction.
RelationshipsMartin and American actress Gwyneth Paltrow married on 5 December 2003, in a quiet ceremony in the presence of their friends and family. Their daughter Apple was born in May 2004 in London. Martin and the band released a song "I am your baby's daddy" under the name "the Nappies" in anticipation of her birth. The band's song "Speed of Sound" was also inspired by Martin's experience and awe at becoming a father. Their second child, a son named Moses, was born in April 2006 in New York City. Moses' name was inspired by a song that Martin wrote for Paltrow. Simon Pegg and Martin's bandmate Jonny Buckland are his daughter's godfathers, and Martin is godfather to Pegg's daughter.
Martin and Paltrow announced their separation as a "conscious uncoupling" in March 2014, after ten years of marriage. Paltrow filed for divorce in April 2015. A judge finalised it on 14 July 2016.
He has been dating actress Dakota Johnson since October 2017.