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Monday, August 30, 1999 Published at 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK


Blur star slammed for Ecstasy comments

Damon Albarn perfomed while under the effects of Ecstasy

Blur frontman Damon Albarn has come under fire after admitting to taking Ecstasy before an appearance on Top of Pops.

The 29-year-old singer of the chart-topping group made his confession as Blur closed the second day of the three-day Reading Festival.

He said that he and fellow band member Alex James had taken the drug before appearing on the BBC One chart show in the early 1990s, after it had been given to them by a record company official.

His remarks have been condemned by Paul Betts, whose daughter Leah died in 1995 after taking Ecstasy at her 18th birthday party.

[ image: Leah Betts died after taking Ectasy]
Leah Betts died after taking Ectasy
"Mr Albarn should not be boasting in this way. The music industry should be sending out a much more positive signal to young people," he said.

Albarn told the 20,000-strong crowd at Saturday's festival that he and Blur bass player James were given the drug by an employee of their record company.

He said they were high on its effects when they went on stage and were still under its influence when watching a performance by comic Vic Reeves.

The singer who said he considered taking Ecstasy "a bit crap" has made no secret of his drug taking in the past.

However, he has also won praise for revealing that using cocaine had given him a year-long depression and urged fans to avoid the drug.

'Spur of moment'

Mr Betts has campaigned for greater education to be given to young people about the harmful effects of drugs since the death of his daughter in 1995.

A retired police inspector, he set up the charity Action for Drug Awareness after Leah's death just days after her 18th birthday.

Albarn was not available to comment further on his remarks at the festival.

A Blur spokeswoman said however that she doubted the singer had meant to cause any offence.

"It was a spur of the moment decision and not something he had been planning to do.

"I doubt he considered it to be big deal at the time and I don't know what the record company will make of it," she said.

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