Happy birthday to Chris Martin, vocalist for British band Coldplay. Formed in 1996 at University College London, the band played under several different names before settling on Coldplay in 1998. Drawing on the varied musical upbringings of the four bandmates, the band delivered a fresh rock sound at the right time. Popular rock bands Radiohead had gotten into a more electronic sound and Oasis had headed more into psychedelia.

On the strength of two early limited pressing releases, the band was signed to a record deal and recorded their first full album Parachutes for a 2000 release. Headed by the international hit Yellow, the band placed four songs on the UK charts from the album, and when the album was released in the US in late 2000 it exceeded the success it found in the UK.

The first three albums from Coldplay had similar success with multi platinum sales and a combined four Grammys.

Coldplay found themselves on the same commercial success level as U2 and along with it came criticism for their earnest and formulaic sound. The band reacted by recording an album with Brian Eno producing and generating another hit with Viva La Vida in 2008. It won three additional Grammys for the band.

Activism and social awareness is central to the band. Coldplay was noted for giving 10 percent of their profits to charity, a practice they continue today. The band has performed in benefit of Amnesty International, Artists’ Project Earth and Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland from the band performed in the Concert for Charlottesville.

Coldplay is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the Best-Selling Digital Album Act.