From Madonna & mushrooms to Glasto & beyond
Andrew Trendell

11:44 6th November 2013

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6 November, 2013: Today, Muse release their epic new Live At Rome Olympic Stadium concert movie in cinemas around the world - described by the band as their 'proudest moment'. That's really quite a statement, considering the supermassive achievements they've pulled off to go from playing toilets in Teignmouth to selling out stadiums. 

Love them or hate them, Muse have proven an unstoppable tour-de-force of operatic pomp-rock since they emerged on the scene on 1999 - destroying milestones as they conquer the world one step at a time. 

From Madonna and magic mushrooms to Glastonbury and the Olympics, here are the 23 defining moments of Muse's career so far. 

  • Formation: In the early 1990s, Matt Bellamy, Christ Wolstenholme and Dom Howard were all performing in different bands while friends at Teignmouth Community College and Coombeshead College, before Matt successfully auditioned to be guitarist in Dom's band. Then-drummer Chris Wolstenholme was asked to learn bass to join them and Muse as we know them today were born.

  • 1994: Under the name Rocket Baby Dolls and painted up as glam goths, the band suprised even themselves when they won a local battle of the bands contest. "It was supposed to be a protest, a statement", Bellamy said, "so, when we actually won, it was a real shock. A massive shock. After that, we started taking ourselves seriously". Matt, Dom and Chris then saw it wise to skip university, change the band name to Muse and move away from Teignmouth.

  • 1998: Muse start to get some proper attention when they release their self-titled debut EP. Recorded at Sawmills and released on studio owner Dennis Smith's Dangerous record label, the EP featured early versions of tracks that would go on to appear on their debut album, Showbiz. The artwork was designed by drummer Dom Howard (yes, that's his face), and the release was limited to just 999 copies, hand-numbered by Matt Bellamy. Needless to say, it fetches a pretty penny on eBay these days.

  • 1998: Muse flew to America to perform for a showcase for Columbia Records and the legendary Rick Rubin. On Christmas Eve, they signed a deal with Madonna's American record label Maverick. When the band returned, they were hit by offers from labels across Europe.

  • 1999: The Muscle Museum EP is released on 11 January. It gets the attention of BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq after Bellamy personally hands it to his receptionist. The NME shower it with praise and it reaches No.3 in the UK indie charts. Showcasing the band's new emotive, guitar-heavy direction, it features future Muse classics 'Muscle Museum', 'Uno' and 'Unintended' among others. Again, it was a limited release and is pretty valuable these days.

  • 1999: Muse release their debut album, Showbiz. It is met with largely positive to mixed reviews, largely drawing comparisons to Radiohead due to Bellamy's falsetto and the fact that The Bends' producer John Leckie worked on the album. Either way, it reached No.29 in the UK charts and catapulted Muse on the road to stardom.

  • 2000: Muse learned what it takes to be a phenomenal live band by supporting Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chilli Peppers in the US, finding the time to also win over legions of fans around the world by playing over 50 festivals. They also pick up Best New Band at the NME Awards, littered the charts with their singles and set themselves up as Britain's new favourite band.

  • 2000: Muse start recording their seminal second album, Origin Of Symmetry. Largely written and recorded on magic mushrooms ("great for exploring new territory," said Bellamy), the tracks were inspired by everything from Rachmaninov to Rage Against The Machine to Tom Waits and llama's toenails. Make no mistake, these tracks were written to be played loud and live.

  • 2001: 'Plug In Baby' shocks some but delights most with ambitious new direction in sound. Nearly cracking the Top Ten by reaching No.11 in the charts, it would go on to become not only a fan favourite and universal guitar anthem, but mark Muse's first true breakthrough moment.

  • 2001: Origin Of Symmetry is released to a mixture of wild critical acclaim and baffling confusion. After being preceded by the brilliant singles 'Plug In Baby' and 'Newborn', the album impressively lands at No.3 in the UK album charts. It stands up as the peak of the band at their most bat-shit mental with most fans, largely due to its ecclectic but bombastic sound, obscure lyrics and bizarre themes. Discussing the album, Bellamy said: "The title 'Origin Of Symmetry', is from a book about geometry of the universe and how it's all in beautiful balance, a perfect thing in ten dimensions. It explains all the mysterious forces we invented religions around... Everyone's been writing about the origin of life so now they'll start looking at the origin of symmetry; there's a certain amount of stability in the universe and to find out where it originates from would be to find out if God exists."

  • 2002: Muse continue to tour pretty relentlessly, and showcase their evolved prowess as a live and by releasing their first live concert DVD and album, Hullabaloo. It also contains the stunning singles 'Dead Star' and 'In Your World'.

  • 2003: After 'Stockholm Syndrome' was warmly received, Muse released their first top 10 hit 'Time Is Running Out' - reaching No.8 n the charts. Speaking of the inspiration behind Muse's first UK top hit 'Time Is Running Out', Matt said: "We wanted to go to something more funky, a little bit more... not funky but a little more groovy. It was something we'd never really done before. Something that made you want to click your fingers. Something that was more influenced by someone like Michael Jackson or someone like that. We wanted something that sounded like 'Billie Jean'."

  • 2003: Absolution cements Muse as a worldwide rock institution, reaching No.1 in the UK and their first album to chart in the US. In 2009, it was aso voted by Kerrang! as the second-best album of the 21st century thus far. Not bad, eh? It also saw them embark on their very first arena tour in the UK, supported by Elbow.

  • 2004: The astounding success of Absolution saw Muse headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury for the first time. While it was seen as a triumph and immortalised in a live DVD, drummer Dom Howard's father died on the Worthy Farm site shortly after their performance. "It was the biggest feeling of achievement we've ever had after coming offstage", said Matt Bellamy . "It was almost surreal that an hour later his dad died. It was almost not believable. We spent about a week sort of just with Dom trying to support him. I think he was happy that at least his dad got to see him at probably what was the finest moment so far of the band's life." The band also headlined V Festival that summer with The Strokes, but more bad luck meant that bassist Chris Wolstenholme broke his wrist in a game of football with Cooper Temple Clause. They poached the bassist from The Streets for a string of shows, who still plays synth with Muse today.

  • 2006: Muse up their game with the smash hit single 'Supermassive Black Hole', marking another departure in sound that Bellamy describes as 'a cross between Millionaire, Marilyn Manson and Prince'. It stands as Muse's most successful single to date, reaching No.4 in the UK charts.

  • 2006: The release of Black Holes And Revelations sees Muse's astounding UK and European success finally matched in the US.

  • 2006: Muse fulfil childhood dream by headlining Reading & Leeds Festival for the first time.

  • 2007: Muse make history by becoming the first major UK rock band to headline two night's at the recently rebuilt Wembley Stadium - joining the ranks of icons such as Queen, U2 and The Who to play in the legendary grounds. With an ambitious show that included satellites, flame-throwers, dancers and more - it was Muse's first real attempt at being a true stadium act, and was documented by the DVD and album, HAARP.

  • 2009: Muse's world-domination shows no signs of waning, with their fifth album The Resistance topping charts around the globe and blasting them into an even larger stage with an even more OTT live show. It's an ambitious affair of an LP, with heady political themes, lots of stadium stomping and even an epic orchestral track split into three that clocks in at nearly 15 minutes. They'd go on to headline Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage once again as a result.

  • 2011: Muse mark 10 years since the release of their seminal Origin Of Symmetry by performing it in full at an epic headline set Reading & Leeds festival. A brave move that paid off. It was totally ace.

  • 2012: Muse rock the world and soundtrack the London 2012 Olympics with 'Survival', and an equally preposterous performance at the closing ceremony.

  • 2012: The glorious single 'Madness' and subsequent album The 2nd Law are released to more or less universal acclaim. Stadiums are headlined, fun is had by all - you should know the drill by now...

  • 2013: Muse again make history by releasing their epic 4k ultra high-definition Live At Rome Olympic concert movie in cinemas around the world. In our review, we said: "This isn't just for those frighteningly dedicated Muse devotees out there - this is a true audio-visual spectacular that beats most action movies in terms of pomp and grandeur. Matt Bellamy promised fans that the film would 'offer fans an entirely new Muse concert experience' - and how. . While Most gig movies are a limp attempt at documenting what went down on the night, Muse Live At Rome Olympic Stadium gives you the best seat in the house."

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Photo: WENN/Press/Hans-Peter van Velthoven