Will Champion

William Champion (born 31 July 1978) is a British musician and songwriter. He is the drummer and backing vocalist for the rock band Coldplay.

Will Champion
Champion performing with Coldplay in 2017
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Elan Champion
Born (1978-07-31) 31 July 1978
Southampton, Hampshire, England
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Drums
  • percussion
  • vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • keyboards
Years active1995–present
Associated acts

Early life and education

William Champion was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England, and was brought up in the Highfield suburb of the city, close to the University of Southampton, where his father, Timothy Champion, is a professor of archaeology; his mother, Sara Champion, was also an archaeologist.[1]

As a youth, Champion's musical influences included Tom Waits, Nick Cave and traditional Irish folk music. He learned to play piano and violin when he was 8 and he learned to play the guitar when he was 12. He also has experience on the bass, and tin whistle. Before he joined Coldplay, Champion performed in a band called Fat Hamster.

Champion attended primary school at Portswood Primary School, secondary school at Cantell Maths and Computing College, and college at Peter Symonds College. He attended Highfield Church. As a youngster he also played cricket for Chandler's Ford CC along with his older brother. He studied anthropology at University College London,where he met his future bandmates.

English comedian Ricky Gervais is Champion's former boss.[2]



Champion was the last of the four band members to join the ensemble on 31 July 1997. He took up the position as drummer with no prior experience, but quickly adjusted to fill the role.[3] In 1999, lead singer Chris Martin sacked Champion, but the band asked him to return soon after.[4] His previous experience on other instruments has been praised by Martin: "Will is like a human jukebox. He knows more songs than anyone. You name it, he'll play it."[5]

In Coldplay, Champion is often regarded as the rationality of the band. They say of him: "Will does have a very sensible head on his shoulders and when it comes to making band decisions he's really good at putting valid points across and keeping everyone focused. He frequently has the casting vote and his decision can sometimes override the consensus!"[6] As Chris Martin has said in multiple interviews, "We [Coldplay] are all just working for Will Champion."

While all four members have sung backing vocals, Champion has been the most prominent. During the Viva la Vida Tour, Champion sang and performed an acoustic version of the song "Death Will Never Conquer". A version of the song was included on Coldplay's live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft. He has also performed lead vocals on the "Life in Technicolor II" B-side "The Goldrush", on a live version of "Til Kingdom Come" and on the live version of "In My Place" performed during the A Head Full of Dreams Tour and included in Live in Buenos Aires.

Other projects

In the autumn of 2004, Champion and Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman guested on A-ha keyboardist Magne Furuholmen's first solo album Past Perfect Future Tense. Champion made a cameo appearance in "The Rains of Castamere," an episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones, where he portrayed a musician during the Red Wedding.

Personal life

Champion's mother, Sara, a doctor of prehistoric archaeology, died from cancer in 2000. The album Parachutes was dedicated to her. In 2003, Champion became the first Coldplay member to marry after becoming engaged to Marianne Dark, a teacher. The first child of the couple, a girl named Ava, was born on 28 April 2006. On 7 May 2008, Marianne gave birth to fraternal twins Juno and Rex.[7] Champion is a lifelong fan of Southampton F.C. and has had a season ticket for many years.

According to an article released by Quartz in May 2018, Champion has an estimated wealth of £82 million.[8]


Champion currently uses a Yamaha drum kit[9] with Zildjian cymbals.[10] In the music video for "Christmas Lights", he uses a Slingerland drumkit and Ludwig Supraphonic Snare 14x6.5 inches. For sticks, Champion looks to Pro-Mark's American Hickory 5A stick with a wooden tip.

It hasn't been until A Head Full Of Dreams Tour (which started in March 2016 and concluded in November 2017) that Champion has owned his own drum kit, as all the other drum kits he used were either from the band or from the company.


With Coldplay

With Brian Eno and Karl Hyde


  • Roach, Martin (2003). Coldplay: The Scientist. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9810-8.


  1. Chris Martin: ‘Coldplay are saying the opposite of walls and Brexit’ | Music | The Guardian
  2. "Ricky Gervais revealed to be Coldplay drummer Will Champion's Ex-Boss in recent Chris Martin Interview".
  3. Weiss, David (March 2003). "Will Champion: Just Right For Coldplay". DRUM! Magazine (March 2003). Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  4. "Chris Martin: 'I punish myself with lemonade'". Digital Spy. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  5. Roach, Martin (16 May 2011). Viva Coldplay: A Biography. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125941.
  6. Slender Fungus (20 November 2008). "Oracle question". Coldplay.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  7. McLean, Craig (1 June 2008). "'We're about to be fed to the lions'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2009. Will Champion (father of a two-year-old and three-week-old twins)
  8. Brinded, Lianna; Brinded, Lianna. "Paul McCartney remains the richest person in the music industry in Britain". Quartz. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  9. Yamaha Drum Artists, retrieved 22 July 2009
  10. Zildjian.com – en-US, archived from the original on 3 January 2010, retrieved 22 July 2009
  11. "Eno • Hyde: 'Someday World' a new Collaborative Album from Brian Eno and Karl Hyde will be released in May". Retrieved 25 February 2014.
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