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Coldplay’s 20th Anniversary Celebrated in New Book, ‘Life in Technicolor’

In advance of the forthcoming documentary on Coldplay, “A Head Full of Dreams” — which arrives in theaters Nov. 14 and on Amazon Prime Video two days later — the woman who was among the first to discover the band has co-authored a book. “Life in Technicolor: A Celebration of Coldplay” by Debs Wild, the A&R scout who saw on of their first shows, and music journalist Malcolm Croft, arrives in bookstores today (Oct. 15). 

All of these projects are pegged to the group’s 20th anniversary (it actually formed in 1996 under the rather less-memorable name Pectoralz, then changed to Starfish before becoming Coldplay in 1998).

The coffee table book features color photos that tell the story of the band’s rise to stadium-sized stardom. Each section correlated to the making of each of Coldplay’s seven studio albums and includes spotlight chapters about each member of the band: drummer Will Champion, Bassist Guy Berryman, Guitarist Jonny Buckland, and lead singer Chris Martin.

Among the highlights: The introduction includes a scanned page from Wild’s personal diary the night after seeing Coldplay perform for the first time at the Cuba Cafe in Manchester. “Their sound is great – shame their look isn’t,” Wild wrote of her first impression of the band on September 14, 1998. “Pretty shabby. I know everyone bangs on about image and all that but I don’t care that the singer was wearing cords and a tank top over a t shirt. He had a mop of curly hair and braces on his teeth. The rest of the band didn’t look great either but they have something, something special.”

Reminiscing about that night, Chris Martin stuck up for his choice of outfit. “I normally wear a jumper for the first song so I can take it off,” he said. “It’s very important to take off a piece of clothing at a gig.”

After Wild fell in love with the band, she grabbed the card of Phil Harvey, Coldplay’s then-manager and honorary fifth member. Wild also passed along the band’s “Safety” EP was passed to friend Caroline Elleray, who worked in publishing. Soon after, the band signed its first record deal with British indie label Fierce Panda.

Two years later, their debut album was released in July of 2000, along with a song that remains one of their biggest hits — and the single that put Coldplay on the map — “Yellow.”

“It was a really clear, starry night,” said bassist Guy Berryman of the night Martin wrote the song.  “We all came out in absolute amazement because none of us had seen the sky look that clear. The number of stars was just ridiculous.”  

Six little-known facts about Coldplay:

  • It only took Coldplay 10 gigs as a performing band to get signed to their first record label (though they practiced alone in their dorm room for two years before that)
  • They were originally called Starfish.
  • The name Coldplay came from a close friend of the band, Tim Crompton, who was reading a book by Philipo Horky called “Child’s Reflections, Cold Play.” After going by “The Coldplay” at Phil Harvey’s instance for several shows, they finally became “Coldplay.”
  • At one of their first gigs at which they were competing for attention with another act, Chris Martin “decided to steal the show by taking his trousers off mid-performance to reveal some excellent height-of-Britpop Union Jack boxer shorts,” remembers musician Tim Rice-Oxley.
  • The hit single “Viva La Vida” almost didn’t make it onto the album.
  • “The Scientist” was written about Martin’s friend Dan Keeling, who had just gone through a bad breakup. His reaction to the song: “I feel worse now!”

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