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Matt Bellamy

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Matt Bellamy
MuseReading270817-41 (cropped).jpg
Bellamy performing with Muse in August 2017
Background information
Birth nameMatthew James Bellamy
Born (1978-06-09) 9 June 1978 (age 40)
Cambridge, England
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
  • keyboards
Years active1991–present
Associated actsMuse

Matthew James Bellamy (born 9 June 1978) is an English singer, musician, and songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer, guitarist, pianist, and primary songwriter of the rock band Muse. He is recognised for his eccentric stage persona, wide tenor vocal range, and abilities on the piano and guitar.[1][2]

Many Muse songs are recognisable by Bellamy's use of vibrato, falsetto, and melismatic phrasing, influenced by Jeff Buckley.[3] As a guitarist, Bellamy often uses the arpeggiator and pitch-shift effects to create a more "electronic" sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences.[4] His guitar playing is also influenced by Latin and Spanish guitar music.[5] His lyrics often incorporate political and dystopian themes.

Muse have won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards, winning the Grammys for Best Rock Album for The Resistance and Drones, two Brit Awards, winning Best British Live Act twice, five MTV Europe Music Awards and eight NME Awards. They have sold over 20 million albums worldwide.[6] In 2012 the band received the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Early life

Matthew James Bellamy was born on 9 June 1978 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. He has an older brother named Paul. His father, George Bellamy, was the rhythm guitarist of the 1960s pop group The Tornados, who were the first British band to have a U.S. number-one song with "Telstar".[7] His mother, Marilyn, was born in Belfast and moved to England in the 1970s. On her first day in England, she met Bellamy's father, who was working as a taxi driver in London at the time. They later moved to Cambridge and in the mid-1980s to Teignmouth, Devon. After Bellamy's parents had divorced, Matthew lived with his mother and brother. He started playing the piano at the age of six and guitar when he was 11. His first musical performance was in June 1991, aged 12, playing piano in front of his school at Teignmouth Community College.[8]


Bellamy performing in 2001

Muse's origins can be traced to Teignmouth, Devon at Teignmouth Community School, where Bellamy had been in a number of bands previously, including Carnage Mayhem and Gothic Plague with drummer Dominic Howard. When members of Gothic Plague left because of other interests, Bellamy and Howard asked Wolstenholme to join. In 1994, using the name Rocket Baby Dolls, they won the school's "Battle of the Bands" which led them to take the band more seriously. They decided to change their name to a more "professional" one, and Muse was born. The band consisted (and still consists) of Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion). Muse struggled to establish itself during their early years, but have since gone on to enjoy worldwide success. Muse blends alternative, art rock, experimental rock, progressive rock, classical music, electronica and many other styles. The band is also well known for its energetic and visually dazzling live performances.[9] On 16–17 June 2007, Muse became the first band to sell out the newly built Wembley Stadium in London.[10]

Muse released their debut album, Showbiz, in 1999, showcasing Bellamy's falsetto and a melancholic alternative rock style. Their second album, Origin of Symmetry (2001), expanded their sound, incorporating wider instrumentation and romantic classical influences, and earned them a reputation for energetic live performances. Absolution (2003) saw further classical influence, with orchestra on tracks such as "Butterflies and Hurricanes", and became the first of five consecutive UK number-one albums.

Black Holes and Revelations (2006) incorporated electronic and pop elements, influenced by 1980s groups such as Depeche Mode, displayed in singles such as "Supermassive Black Hole". The album brought Muse wider international success. The Resistance (2009) and The 2nd Law (2012) explored themes of government oppression and civil uprising and cemented Muse as one of the world's major stadium acts. Their seventh album, Drones (2015), was a concept album about drone warfare and returned to a harder rock sound. Their eighth album, Simulation Theory, featuring a retro 1980s style, was released on November 9, 2018.

Muse have won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards, winning the Grammys for Best Rock Album for The Resistance and Drones, two Brit Awards, winning Best British Live Act twice, five MTV Europe Music Awards and eight NME Awards. In 2012 the band received the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Muse have sold over 20 million albums worldwide.[11]

Critical and public acclaim

Bellamy was ranked No. 19 on Gigwise's list of The 50 Greatest Guitarists Ever.[12] Total Guitar readers voted Bellamy No. 29 on a list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time. Bellamy's riff from "Plug in Baby" was No. 13 in Total Guitar's poll of the Top 100 Riffs of All Time.[13]

In April 2005, Kerrang! magazine ranked him No. 28 in their "50 Sexiest People in Rock" poll. Cosmopolitan also chose him as the sexiest rocker of 2003 and 2004. NME Magazine voted him the 14th Greatest Rock 'n' roll Hero of all time, ahead of John Lennon and Bob Dylan. Bellamy also won the Sexiest Male Award at the 2007 NME Awards.[14] He won again in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 and was nominated in 2012. Bellamy, however, declared himself "too short to be sexy" (he is 5' 7"), and said the award should have gone to Dominic Howard, Muse's drummer. In 2001 and 2012 NME awards Bellamy won "Hero of the year award".

On 26 September 2008, the University of Plymouth awarded the members of Muse an honorary doctorate degree for their work in music.[15]

In the January 2010 edition of Total Guitar, Bellamy was named "Guitarist of the Decade" and was proclaimed to be "the Hendrix of his generation".[16] In the Guinness Book of World Records 2010, Bellamy is credited as holding the world record for most guitars smashed on a tour. His record, 140, was set during the Absolution Tour. In April 2010, Bellamy was named the eighth best front man of all time by the readers of Q.[17] In December 2010, readers of MusicRadar voted Bellamy the 9th Greatest Lead Singer of All Time.[18] In 2010, BBC Radio 6 conducted a survey where Matt Bellamy came third as the best guitarist of the last 30 years.[19]

Musical style

Bellamy performing at Lollapalooza, 2007

Described as an alternative rock,[20][21][22] space rock[23][24][25] and progressive rock band,[26][27] Muse mix sounds from genres such as electronic music, progressive metal[28] and art rock,[29][30] and forms such as classical music, rock opera and many others.[31] In 2002, Bellamy described Muse as a "trashy three-piece".[32] In 2005, Pitchfork described Muse's music as "firmly ol' skool at heart: proggy hard rock that forgoes any pretensions to restraint ... their songs use full-stacked guitars and thunderous drums to evoke God's footsteps."[33][34] AllMusic described their sound as a "fusion of progressive rock, glam, electronica, and Radiohead-influenced experimentation."[35] On the band's association with progressive rock, Howard said: "I associate it [progressive rock] with 10-minute guitar solos, but I guess we kind of come into the category. A lot of bands are quite ambitious with their music, mixing lots of different styles – and when I see that I think it's great. I've noticed that kind of thing becoming a bit more mainstream."[36]

For their second album, Origin of Symmetry (2001), Muse wanted to craft a more aggressive sound. In 2000, Wolstenholme said: "Looking back, there isn't much difference sonically between the mellow stuff and the heavier tracks [on Showbiz]. The heavy stuff really could have been a lot heavier and that's what we want to do with [Origin of Symmetry]."[37] Their third album, Absolution (2003), features prominent string arrangements and began to draw influences from artists such as Queen.[38] Their fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations (2006) was influenced by artists like Depeche Mode and Lightning Bolt, as well as Asian and European music such as Naples music; additionally, the band listened to radio stations from the Middle East during the album's recording sessions.[39] Queen guitarist Brian May has praised Muse's work, calling the band "extraordinary musicians", who "let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artist."[40]

Muse's sixth album, The 2nd Law (2012) has a broader range of influences, ranging from funk and film scores to electronica and dubstep. The 2nd Law is influenced by rock acts such as Queen and Led Zeppelin (on "Supremacy") as well as dubstep producer Skrillex and Nero (on "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable"[41] and "Follow Me", with the latter being co-produced by Nero), Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder (on "Panic Station" which features musicians who performed on Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"[42]) and Hans Zimmer.[43] The album features two songs with lyrics written and sung by bassist Wolstenholme, who wrote about his battle with alcoholism.[44]


Many Muse songs are recognizable by vocalist Matt Bellamy's use of vibrato, falsetto, and melismatic phrasing, influenced by Jeff Buckley.[45] As a pianist, Bellamy often uses arpeggios. Bellamy's compositions often suggest or quote late classical and romantic era composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov (in "Space Dementia" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes"), Camille Saint-Saëns (in "I Belong to You (Mon Coeur S'ouvre À Ta Voix)") and Frédéric Chopin (in "United States of Eurasia").[46] Bellamy said: "I learnt some Spanish guitar music that opened up a world of different harmonies and making music and a different sort of passion. Very heavy music, but it hasn't got a distortion pedal.".[47]

Wolstenholme's basslines are a central motif of many Muse songs; the band combines bass guitar with effects and synthesisers to create overdriven fuzz bass tones.[48] Both Bellamy and Wolstenholme use touch-screen controllers, often built into their instruments, to control synthesisers and effects including a Korg Kaoss pad or Digitech Whammy pedal.[49]

Books that have influenced Muse's lyrical themes include Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell,[50] Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins,[51]Hyperspace by Michio Kaku,[52] The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin[53] and Trance Formation of America by Cathy O'Brien.[54]


In September 2009, Bellamy mentioned the extensive use of Dickinson amplifiers on the album The Resistance.[55] Bellamy owns many Manson guitars, built by Hugh Manson, excluding the Mirror Kaoss, Doubleneck, Keytar and Matt Black II which were built by Tim Stark. All of the guitars built for Bellamy, aside from the 7 String E Guitar, have a shape that he designed with Manson, dubbed "Mattocaster". The Mattocaster shape resulted from Bellamy wanting a guitar with "the body of a Fender Telecaster and the sound of a Gibson Les Paul".[citation needed] Bellamy is also famed for his use of the Zvex Fuzz Factory, which he uses to achieve his signature feedback squeals, most famously heard on the introduction of "Plug in Baby". He has said that the core of his tone is a Vox AC30.

Bellamy often uses Kawai pianos and keyboards live. One of his most commonly used keyboards is the Kawai MP-8, in both upright and grand cases.[56]

Other appearances

Bellamy also co-wrote the end credits for the 2009 film The International. He wrote the song "Soaked", which appears on Adam Lambert's debut album, For Your Entertainment. Bellamy appears as a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero 5, along with the song “Plug In Baby”.[57] In April 2014, Bellamy was announced as a featured contributor on New Zealand Artist Kimbra's 2nd album, The Golden Echo.[58]

Since September 2017, Bellamy plays bass guitar in a Beatles tribute band named Dr. Pepper's Jaded Hearts Club Band. Other members included singer Miles Kane, Nine Inch Nails drummer Ilan Rubin, and drummer Sean Payne. In January 2018 Bellamy was joined by Paul McCartney of The Beatles for a cover on “Helter Skelter”.[59]

Personal life

Bellamy was engaged to Italian psychologist Gaia Polloni for nine years; they separated in 2009. He began dating American actress Kate Hudson in mid-2010.[60] They became engaged in April 2011.[61] Their son, Bingham Hawn "Bing" Bellamy,[62] was born on 9 July 2011 in Los Angeles.[63] In December 2014, it was announced that Bellamy and Hudson had ended their engagement.[64] They have remained friends and are co-parents of Bing. As of February 2015, Bellamy is dating American model Elle Evans.[65] In December 2017, they announced their engagement.[66][67]

In February 2017, Bellamy bought the home of tennis player Pete Sampras for $6.9 million. The property is a 6,900-square-foot (640 m2) estate located in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.[68] He owns additional property in the Point Dume area of Malibu, California, as well as in London and his childhood hometown of Teignmouth.

Many of Bellamy's lyrics display revolutionary views as well as an opposition to political corruption. "Assassin" and "Uprising" are two notable songs with obvious revolutionary sentiments. In an interview with Q Magazine, Bellamy stated that he is a "left-leaning libertarian".[69][70] In 2006, he said that he believed the 9/11 attacks were an inside job.[71] However, in 2009, he told Rolling Stone that he did not believe this: "There is loads of stuff on the Internet suggesting 9/11 was an inside job. But that is not my belief."[72] On 17 September 2009, Bellamy discussed being politically influenced by reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. He explains the book helped inspire the song "Uprising" and expressed his views that he feels lobbyists have undue influence on politicians as well as the political system. He stated that "when people become powerful they often have a disregard for public opinion".[73]


Bellamy performing live at the Virgin Festival in Toronto using the Manson guitar; Chrome Bomber Manson

The discography of Muse consists of eight studio albums, two live albums, one compilation album, five extended plays (EPs), 38 singles, two video albums, 52 music videos and four other appearances. Formed in Teignmouth, Devon in 1994, the band signed with Mushroom Records in the United Kingdom and Maverick Records in the United States before releasing their debut album Showbiz in 1999.[74] The album was a success across Europe, and in the UK reached number 29 on the UK Albums Chart,[75] as well as being certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).[76] Five singles were released from Showbiz, with final release "Unintended" the band's first to reach the top 20 on the UK Singles Chart.[77] Muse released their second album Origin of Symmetry in 2001, which reached number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and was certified double platinum by the BPI.[75][76] The album's first three singles, "Plug In Baby", "New Born" and "Bliss", all reached the UK top 25.[77]

In 2002 the band released their first live video album Hullabaloo: Live at Le Zenith, Paris, alongside the tie-in compilation album Hullabaloo Soundtrack.[74] The video reached number 2 on the UK Music Video Chart,[78] while the soundtrack album reached number 10 on the UK Albums Chart.[75] The group's third studio album Absolution, issued on East West Records, was released in 2003 and was the band's first release to top the UK Albums Chart.[75] The album only reached number 103 on the US Billboard 200,[79] but has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[80] "Time Is Running Out" was the band's first single to reach the UK Singles Chart top ten, peaking at number 8.[77] Absolution Tour, a live video filmed on the Absolution promotional cycle, reached number 9 on the UK Music Video Chart.[81]

After founding their own label, Helium 3, and signing with Warner Bros. Records, Muse released Black Holes and Revelations in 2006. The album was a commercial success, topping several albums charts and reaching the top ten on the Billboard 200.[79] Lead single "Supermassive Black Hole" is the band's most successful on the UK Singles Chart to date, peaking at number 4.[77] The band's first live album HAARP was released in 2008, reaching number 2 on the UK Albums Chart.[75] The Resistance followed in 2009, topping several countries' album charts for the first time, as well as reaching number 3 in the US.[79] The first single from the album, "Uprising", was the band's first to reach the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100,[82] as well as their fourth to reach the top ten in the UK.[77] Muse have continued to enjoy high levels of commercial success in recent years – The 2nd Law and Drones both topped the UK Albums Chart,[75] while the latter was the group's first release to reach number one on the Billboard 200.[79] In 2017, they released a single called Dig Down on the 18th of May, this was followed by Thought Contagion, released on the 14th of February in 2018. Three more singles were released, Something Human, on the 19th of June, The Dark Side, on the 30th of August and Pressure, released on the 27th of September. On the 9th of November, they released an album called Simulation Theory, which contains eleven songs, however, there are deluxe editions too, the deluxe edition has 16 songs, and the super deluxe edition contains 21.

List of awards and nominations received by Muse

Muse have been nominated eight times at the BRIT Awards, receiving two awards; both were for "Best Live Act", in 2005 and again in 2007. The band received five awards at the MTV Europe Music Awards, winning both "Best Alternative Act" (in 2004 and 2006) and "Best UK & Irish Act" (in 2004 and 2007). The album Black Holes and Revelations received numerous nominations, including a Mercury Music Prize, "Best British Album" from the BRIT Awards and "Best Album" from both the MTV Europe Video Awards and the NME Awards. At the Kerrang! Awards, Muse have been nominated for the "Best British Band" award five times, from 2001 to 2004 and again in 2007, but only winning it in 2001. The NME Awards have recognised Muse by awarding them the "Best Live Band" award in 2005, 2008 and 2009; the "Best British Band" award in 2007, 2010 and 2011 and the "Best New Band" award in 2000. The Q Awards have also recognised Muse as outstanding live performers; the band were nominated for the "Best Live Act" award five times, winning it three times in 2003, 2004, and 2006, and winning "Best Act in the World Today" in 2009 and 2012. In 2010, Muse won an MTV VMA for the first time, for Best Special Effects in a Video for "Uprising", with special effects by Humble. In 2011, they received three Grammy Award nominations, of which they won "Best Rock Album" for The Resistance, and in 2012 they received a further two nominations, for "Best Rock Album" for The 2nd Law, and "Best Rock Song" for "Madness". In 2015, they received another nomination for "Best Rock Album" for Drones. They also received the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for the first time, for International Achievement. Overall, Muse have received 47 awards from 136 nominations.


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External links