Devon, Wales, Southampton and Fife were the birth places for Chris Martin, Jon Buckland, Will Champion and Guy Berryman respectively, who met whilst they were staying at the same Halls of Residence at University, formed Coldplay in 1996. All four members studied at University College London – Chris was doing a course in Ancient History, Jon read Maths and Astronomy, Will was an Anthropologist, and Guy was training to be an engineer. Both Chris and Jon had been playing the guitar since their early teens, Guy is the band's bass player, and Will took the role of drummer, despite that fact that he prefers to play the guitar.
In 1998, Coldplay released their first EP, which they funded themselves. Only five hundred copies were made, and after they had handed them out to family and friends, only fifty were left for distribution around London. Shortly afterwards, the band were spotted playing in Camden by the co-founder of Fierce Panda Records, Simon Williams. He offered them a one-off deal and they soon released the 'Brothers and Sisters' EP on the Fierce Panda label. The band graduated from UCL in 1999 and, in the same year, were tipped by the NME as a band to watch. Later that year they signed to Parlophone Records.
'Yellow' was the first hit single from Coldplay, and after a critically acclaimed performance at Glastonbury festival in 1999, the track went straight into the charts at number four. The album this song was taken from, 'Parachutes', went into the album chart at number one just a few weeks later. In just a few years, Coldplay have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and done a great deal of work promoting various charities and humanitarian causes. 'A Rush of Blood to the Head' was released in August 2002, to much critical acclaim and impressive sale figures. Their 2005 album, 'X&Y', also dominated the charts. It quickly became the best-selling album of 2005 with global sales of 8.3 million, with the lead single 'Speed of Sound' being released on 18 April that year. The band followed this album with the Twisted Logic Tour between June 2005 and July 2006, including appearances at Glastonbury and Isle of Wight Festival. Coldplay won Best Album and Best Single at the Brit Awards in February 2006, with the group releasing a total of six singles from 'X&Y'.
The band spent 2007 playing some select dates in Latin America and recording their fourth studio album 'Viva La Vida' or 'Death And All His Friends' with producer Brian Eno. 'Violet Hill' was the first single from the album released on 28 April 2008 and entered the UK's top ten charts within the first week of being available to download.
Lead single 'Viva la Vida' was exclusively released on iTunes and became the band's first UK number one based on downloads alone. The album also topped the charts after three days of being released, becoming the one of the fastest-selling records in UK history, according to the BBC. Once again, Coldplay went on tour, kicking off with a free concert at Brixton Academy and a 45-minute performance broadcast live from the BBC Television Studio. They released their third single 'Lost!' and received two Grammy Awards for song of the year for 'Viva La Vida', along with four Brits nominations.
In 2010, the band only released one single called 'Christmas Lights' in December and spent the rest of the year touring and recording their next album. At the start of 2011, Martin told BBC Radio about the new album: "It's about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don't like." He did not confirm a release date but announced the group would be making several festival appearances. Coldplay played at Rock Werchter, T in the Park and headlined Glastonbury for which they were voted the best act of the festival by BBC Radio listeners. Single 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall' was released on 3 June 2011, and the album 'Mylo Xylto' was released on 24 October to positive acclaim - it topped the charts in over 24 countries.
Ghost Stories was released in May 2014. Ghost Stories is a spiritually driven album that revolves around two major themes mentioned by Chris Martin. The album explores the idea of past actions, and the effects they can have on your future and one's capacity for unconditional love. The band took a different approach for their sixth studio album in contrast to their previous studio albums, with Martin inviting the band to contribute original songwriting material for the album, as opposed to building songs off his ideas as they had done during previous recording sessions. From April to July, Coldplay embarked on a six-date Ghost Stories Tour in support of the album, playing 'intimate' shows in six cities: the Beacon Theatre in New York City on 5 May, Royce Hall in Los Angeles on 19 May, Casino de Paris in Paris on 28 May, Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo on 12 June, Enmore Theatre in Sydney on 19 June, and closed the tour at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 2 July 2014. The album topped the charts in the UK, the US, and most major markets. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album and "A Sky Full of Stars" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
On 11 December 2014, the band unveiled a new song, "Miracles", which was written and recorded for the World War II drama film Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie. At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on 17 May, Ghost Stories was named Top Rock Album. On 26 September, Coldplay performed at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park's Great Lawn in New York, an event organised by Chris Martin that advocates an end to extreme global poverty. Coldplay, along with Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Pearl Jam, headlined the festival, which was broadcast on NBC in the US on 27 September and the BBC in the UK on 28 September.