20 years ago on July 10, Coldplay released their debut album Parachutes. It skyrocketed the band to fame, going multi-platinum and becoming one of the best selling albums of the 21 century.

Vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Johnny Buckland met while studying at the University College London in 1996. They soon joined forces with drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman, performing first under the name Pectoralz, then Starfish. Another band was no longer using the name Coldplay, so they adopted it and released the now highly collectible debut EP Safety under the name in 1998.

By 1999, they had signed to Parlophone Records and were ready to release their first full length LP. They headed into Rockfield Studio in Wales and got to work. Dive deep into the album with seven facts about it below.

1. The band had already written “High Speed” by the time they entered the studio. It had appeared on Safety and was later re-released on Parachutes. Producer Chris Allison, who produced Safety, pointed out that out of all the songs on the album, “High Speed” stands out because the band wanted to combine classic rock techniques with the new sound they were developing. Allison describes the song as a “really good marriage between the classic rock sound and [Coldplay’s] new sound”.

2. Chris Martin wrote “Yellow” after a long day in the studio. The band took a break, walking around the city of Wales. There were few lights on and the sky was clear with very visible stars. Producer Ken Nelson told the band to take in the sight. Immediately after, Martin returned to the studio with the song’s melody in his head. At first, he treated it as a joke, singing it to his band in “his worst Neil Young impression”. Martin explained, “The song had the word ‘stars’ and that seemed like a word you should sing in a Neil Young voice.” He later told Howard Stern in 2011 that the word “yellow” has no meaning and that he had pretended it had in previous interviews out of embarrassment for its unexciting origins.

3. Although “Yellow” was the song that pushed the band into the mainstream, “Shiver” became the album’s debut single. Martin admitted that the song was written for a particular woman, but he has never revealed whom. It was Jeff Buckley inspired – or as Martin puts it – ripped-off. “It’s a blatant Jeff Buckley attempt. Not quite as good, that’s what I think. We were 21 and he was very much a hero, and as with those things it tends to filter through.”

4. The album’s third single was “Trouble” and that’s exactly what it was about. Martin says that he wrote the song after acting like a “knobhead” towards people in his life. “There were some bad things going in our band… the song is about behaving badly towards somebody you really love and I was certainly doing that to some members of the band.” They recorded the song four different times before deciding on the version included on the album.

5. “Don’t Panic” acted as Parachutes‘ fourth and final single. It was one of the first songs Martin ever wrote for the band – in fact, he used it to recruit drummer Will Champion. At the time, it was just called “Panic”. It was inspired by a “slightly disastrous evening Chris had spent entertaining a young lady called Alice Hill.” A previous version of it appeared on The Blue Room EP before being reworked for the debut album.

6. The album’s artwork features a photo of a vintage globe captured on a disposable Kodak camera. The globe was purchased for £10 ($17) and was included in the music videos for “Shiver” and “Don’t Panic” and also accompanied the band on their tour. Parachutes is dedicated to Will Champion’s mom, Dr. Sara Champion, who died of cancer the same year the album was released.

7. The album was issued on CD, cassette and vinyl. Since its release, it has received many awards including Best Album at the 2000 Q Magazine Awards, Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys and Best British Album at the BRIT Awards.

Happy 20th birthday to an album that changed the alternative music world and pushed Coldplay into the mainstream.

Filed under: Chris Martin, Coldplay, MNYCU, Music News You Can Use, New Music Discovery Show, Parachutes, Yellow