Hewlett and Albarn have remained friends, and Gorillaz was conceived as a way of combining their talents.
For Albarn, it is also a way to escape the expectations heaped upon any new Blur project.
Within a year, Albarn had met his current partner, artist Suzi Winstanley.
They now have a daughter, Missy, and photographs tend to show him playing with his child rather than partying.
Fans no longer just draw logos on their schoolbooks, says Anthony Couchi, one of the team behind the site, they pass around emails: 'Gorillaz has spread like a virus.' There's a further twist to this tale, of course: the band doesn't exist.
Murdo, nice-but-dim singer 2D, Japanese guitar prodigy Noodle and Russel, the New Yorker who supplies the band's beats, are cartoons drawn by Jamie Hewlett, creator of the iconic Tank Girl and one of Britain's most talented comic artists.
”@Stormzy1 #Grenfell #Grenfell Tower #Stormzy pic.twitter.com/Du3Ejgcwk Q— James Melville (@James Melville) February 21, 2018Stormzy just sang “Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell? Moments before Stormzy's show-closing set, Kendrick Lamar's own medley was marred on live TV by technical faults and excessive censoring of swearing.
Jack Whitehall hosted the 38th BRIT Awards from the O2 Arena in London, with live coverage airing on ITV in the UK and on You Tube internationally.
Developing a 'futuristic musical hall' style, they helped create the huge resurgence of interest in Brit-pop in the mid-90s.
Meanwhile, Keith Rozencroft, MD of their label Parlophone, confirms that he did submit them for the prize: 'I feel that the Gorillaz have made a fantastic album.' The fans seem to agree. You can wander round their Kong Studios online, check out the band's rooms, log into their computers, leave graffiti in the toilets, remix tracks, even play the music they've left in their car stereo.
There's a chat room into which band members occasionally wander, and the site is full of goodies: games, screensavers, ring tones, images to send to friends.
Chosen by a panel of critics, it is often seen as having more integrity than industry-led awards such as the Brits, but when the short-list of 12 was announced this week there was a surprise.
One of the bands - Gorillaz - said they did not want to be included, with bassist and band founder Murdo describing it as 'like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity'.
But the music is real enough, a glorious pop mix of reggae, hip hop and Latin beats created by Damon Albarn with a diverse collective of musicians including hip hop producer Dan Nakamura, rapper Del Tha Funky Homosapien and Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer.