Happy birthday today to Irish musician Damien Rice (1973-) Rice has been called the world’s most reluctant pop star, but there is no denying his star power, when names like Ed Sheeran are die-hard fans. Rice was born in Dublin and brought up south of the city in Celbridge. He formed rock band Juniper in 1991 along with other Salesian College secondary school students. He left the band in 1998, moved to Tuscany and took up farming, before busking around Europe. In 2001, he returned to Ireland and recorded his first album O, which included Top 40 single The Blower’s Daughter. Confidently, he believed it would sell 1000 copies, instead it sold close to two million. His follow-up album 9 reached number four in the UK charts and he went on to play major festivals such as Glastonbury. ‘‘I was on paper earning more money and having more success than I’d ever had,’’ Rice said. ‘‘And it was also the most miserable I’ve ever been. When those things collided I realised something was off. That’s when I started poking around to figure out what was wrong.’’ There were eight years between 9 and his third album My Favourite Faded Fantasy, as Rice gave himself time to purposefully slip off the radar. But even when he was not in the spotlight, his music was, with Little Mix covering his song Cannonball as their X-Factor debut single in 2011. This year, he returned with 100 Miles Across The Room, although the song was actually written 10 years ago during a project where he travelled from Dublin to Barcelona. Across 10 days he challenged himself to write a new song every day, with him and his friend turning the car into a portable recording studio.