James Blunt is one of the most successful British recording artists of our time and rose to fame in 2004 with the release of his debut album Back to Bedlam, achieving worldwide fame with the singles You're Beautiful and Goodbye My Lover.
Prior to becoming a headline music artist, he was reconnaissance officer in the Life Guards regiment of the British Army and served under NATO during the 1999 Kosovo War.
From being born in a military hospital in Hampshire, to attending Harrow School (gaining A-levels in physics, chemistry, and economics), studying Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering and attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to joining The Household Cavalry, serving in Kosovo and guarding Buckingham Palace, to recording in a Los Angeles music studio. How did James Blunt get from there to here?
His family have served in one kind of army or another since 995 AD. A long line of warriors. Savages really. Not a musical bone in any one of their bodies. The only music he heard growing up was Happy Birthday and Silent Night. His father considered all music, even classical, to be unnecessary noise.
Although James was not one to rock the family boat, he didn't really think he was going to join the army -- it sort of crept up on him. Aged fourteen he just held the teenage conviction that he would have an interesting life -- maybe that's why he picked the guitar? Then again, maybe if he hadn't, he would have tripped over it.
James Blunt went to University and studied Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering and Sociology, spending most lectures asleep on the floor at the back. In much the same way, he ended up in the army. In essence, one day he was sleeping off a hangover at the back of a sociology lecture hall and the next thing he knew he was in Kosovo with a gun and a guitar strapped to the side of a tank.
To break up the super attenuated monotony, James would sometimes stroll through Serb villages wearing an East German cap singing, "All we are saying is give peace a chance". "We were peace-keepers at that point," he explained, shrugging helplessly.
So how did the music get into him, you might ask? Well if you were sent to boarding school aged seven, studied Engineering by mistake ("I thought we were going to fly planes, but we just pulled metals apart - the brochure was very misleading."), joined the army by default, guarded The Queen, buried The Queen Mother and pranced around London like a tit for Japanese tourists to photograph, what you're going to want to do very much after that, besides getting stoned and laid, is put your gun down, pick up a guitar and make an album in America with Linda Perry.
He went to California in September, 2003, to record his album, and discovered that being a slightly scruffy English boy in Los Angeles could be very pleasant.
Staying at the home of an actress, he spent his days recording with Rothrock, and his nights...well... researching LA's club scene. "With my naïve background, it was like stepping into a devil's cauldron," he says, in happy reminiscence. He recorded the painfully poignant track "Goodbye, My Lover" in the actresses' bathroom, where she kept an old piano.
James Blunt’s first album has now sold over 11 million copies worldwide, topping the UK Albums Chart and peaking at number two in the US. You're Beautiful was number one in the UK, the US and a dozen other countries.
Back to Bedlam was the best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK and is one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. By 2013, he had sold over 20 million albums worldwide.
He has received several awards, including two Brit Awards—winning Best British Male in 2006—two MTV Video Music Awards, and two Ivor Novello Awards, as well as receiving five Grammy Award nominations and an Honorary Doctorate for Music in 2016 from the University of Bristol.
He is an active user of Twitter with over two million followers and a feed notable for self-deprecating humour. In 2020, Constable published a compendium of James Blunt’s tweets as a book called How to Be a Complete and Utter Blunt: Diary of a Reluctant Social Media Sensation.