Alex Turner is an English rock singer, songwriter, and musician. He is well known as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of the English indie band Arctic Monkeys, which he formed with his friends while they were in high school. Besides writing and performing in the band’s singles and albums, he has worked with many other popular musicians as well. He also records with his side-project ‘The Last Shadow Puppets’, a group with Miles Kane. He wrote and performed as a solo artist for the Submarine movie soundtrack. A winner of several awards, Turner became one of Europe’s most popular frontmen, when Arctic Monkeys’ first album became the fastest-selling UK record of all time. He became passionate about music in his childhood and grew up listening to different kinds of music at home as his father was a part-time musician. He did not have much interest in studies, and chose to pursue a career in music instead of attending university. Turner has always received much attention for his strong songwriting and intellectual lyrics, which often focus on Northern England’s nightlife. ‘The Guardian’ has referred to him as “one of the great lyricists.” In fact, his mesmerizing craft has been praised by many—from Sean Diddy to politician Gordon Brown to poet Simon Armitage.
Childhood & Early Life
Alexander David ‘Alex’ Turner was born on January 6, 1986, in Sheffield, UK. He is the only child of Penny and David Turner. His mother taught German, and his father taught physics and music at Rawmarsh Community School.
He took piano lessons till the age eight. Since his father was a member of big bands, Turner was exposed to different kinds of music at home. He listened to records by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, and The Eagles.
Turner attended Stocksbridge High School. He excelled in sports, particularly basketball. His teachers remember him as a quiet boy, bright and clever, but “laid-back" in studies.
He met Matt Helders in his primary school and became friends. The duo met Andy Nicholson at secondary school, and the three teenagers listened to rap artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill, Dr. Dre, Outkast, and Roots Manuva.
In 2001, Turner's parents bought him a guitar following which he started writing songs, using a bass guitar and some microphones. Soon he was deep into music and got serious about making a career in this field.
In 2002, while still in high school, Turner formed an indie rock band called Arctic Monkeys with his friends Andy Nicholson, Glyn Jones, and Matt Helders. They later added a classmate Jamie Cook. When Glyn left the band, Turner became the frontman and lyricist. They first practiced at their garages and later, at an unused warehouse in Wath.
In 2002, Turner went to Barnsley College, where he studied English, psychology, music technology and media.
After college, his parents reluctantly agreed to let him skip university for one year to pursue his musical visions. He then took up a barman’s job at Sheffield music venue, The Boardwalk, while exploring musical avenues.
During this time, Turner was drawn to guitar bands like The Hives and The White Stripes. He was also introduced to Queens of the Stone Age and The Coral. He attended his first live musical performance in 2002, when he watched The Vines in Manchester. In 2003, he travelled to London to watch The Strokes play.
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In 2003, Alex Turner played seven gigs in York and Liverpool as a rhythm guitarist for the band Judan Suki; he knew its lead singer Jon McClure who had offered him the opportunity. The experience made him more confident. In August 2003, Turner recorded a demo with Judan Suki.
In 2005, Arctic Monkeys self-released their first EP, ‘Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys’. Things picked up fast from there. In June, Domino Records offered them a recording contract, and in January 2006, their first album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not’ was released. Their debut album became the fastest-selling album in the history of British music. About 118,000 copies were sold on the first day, and 360,000 copies by the end of the week!
In 2006, a five-track EP was released. The same year, Andy Nicholson left the band, and bassist Nick O'Malley replaced him.
In 2007, they released the second album, ‘Favorite Worst Nightmare’. By this time, Alex Turner had started collaborating with other artists like Reverend and the Makers, Dizzee Rascal, and Tony Christie. In 2008, Turner and Miles Kane, a popular musician, released an album, ‘The Age of the Understatement’. The album topped the charts in its first week.
In October 2008, Turner made his debut as a short story writer, and performed a spoken word track ‘A Choice of Three’ on Matt’s compilation ‘Late Night Tales: Matt Helders’. He also worked with Dizzee Rascal on the song ‘Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend’.
Arctic Monkeys released their third album, ‘Humbug’, in 2009. Turner wrote and performed six songs for Richard Ayoade’s film, ‘Submarine’, in 2011. In June the same year, the band’s fourth album, ‘Suck It and See’, was released. That year, Turner also wrote six songs for Miles Kane's first album ‘Color of the Trap.’
Their fifth studio album ‘AM’ was released in 2013. Turner also collaborated with Queens of the Stone Age’s sixth album ‘...Like Clockwork’, in the same year.
In January 2016, Turner's other band The Last Shadow Puppets released a single after a gap of eight years. The song, ‘Bad Habits’, was released along with a music video. The title track from their upcoming album, ‘Everything You've Come to Expect’, was released in March 2016, followed by the release of ‘Aviation’, and ‘Miracle Aligner’. Turner and Miles Kane released the EP ‘The Dream Synopsis’ in December 2016.
Arctic Monkeys had released their last album in 2013. Four years later, in 2017, the band’s fans are expecting their comeback, but Turner said in an interview that the band is in “no rush” to release their sixth album. However, Turner is occupied with many other projects, including an EP with Miles Kane.
Alex Turner and the band achieved tremendous success with their first single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ which reached No. 1 spot on the UK singles chart.
The band’s first album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not’, registered a record-breaking sale and made history in British music, selling over 360,000 copies in its first week. It has since been accredited quintuple platinum in the UK.
The band's second album, ‘Favorite Worst Nightmare’, sold over 225,000 copies in its debut week, and was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize.
Awards & Achievements
Arctic Monkeys have got 92 award nominations, of which they won 38. The band’s first album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not’ won the 2006 Mercury Prize and 2007 BRIT Awards for Best British Album.
The band's second album, ‘Favorite Worst Nightmare’, won Best British Album award at the BRIT Awards in 2008.
At the NME Awards in 2006, the band won both Best New Band and Best British Band.
As a youngster Alex Turner had dated Johanna Bennett from his college days. Following their breakup, he became involved in a four-year relationship with writer Alexa Chung. He was also once engaged to American actress, Arielle Vandenberg, which was later called off. In 2015, he began dating model Taylor Bagley.