Damon Albarn in a facemask: Kevin Cummins' best photograph

General Info on Blur

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‘He wanted to get on a train in Tokyo to see what they were like. He put on a facemask and did a shiver as a joke. Because of Covid-19, it now seems really prescient’

Blur toured Japan in 1992 and I went with them for NME. It was the first time we’d seen Japanese kids wearing facemasks. Damon was intrigued, so he bought one. Normally when you’re away with a band, you don’t get time to see anything of the cities you’re in – and a lot of bands aren’t that interested anyway. But Blur were keen to explore Tokyo. Damon wanted to get on a train and see what that was like. He looks like he’s shivering but I think it was a joke to fit with the face covering. Back then, it was really unusual to see a westerner wearing a mask. Because of Covid-19, the image seems really prescient now.

NME got a lot of letters about the shot. People didn’t understand what was going on. How dare someone show vulnerability? I thought it would make a really good cover, but NME always wanted the cover star to be instantly recognisable and make eye contact, so they ran it inside.

They cleared out the bar, all the spirits, everything – then blamed it on East 17's road crew

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