Portishead was founded in 1991 by singer Beth Gibbons with keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow, who named the formation after a coastal town just outside Bristol, where he grew up. In 1994, Portishead released their debut album Dummy, which despite the band members' reluctance for interviews in the UK media, met with an unexpected response in both the audience and the critics, when the album was awarded the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Shortly after the release, guitarist Adrian Utley joined as the third official member of the band, and he co-produced the album and played in most of the songs.
About three years later, they released their second, self-titled, album. From 1999 on, the members were devoted to their own solo projects and production work. In 2005, Portishead got together again for the first time in seven years at the Bristol Academy gig for a benefit concert for victims of the tsunami in 2004. The third studio album, aptly titled The Third was released in April 2008.