Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Oxfordshire in 1986. The band comprises Thom Yorke (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, electronics), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass guitar, synthesisers) and Phil Selway (drums, percussion).
Radiohead released their first single, "Creep", in 1992, followed by their debut album Pablo Honey (1993). Though it was initially unsuccessful, the song became a worldwide hit by the time it was reissued a year later. Radiohead's popularity in the United Kingdom increased with their second album, The Bends (1995). The band's dense, textured guitar atmospheres and Thom Yorke's expressive falsetto singing were warmly received by critics and fans. The band's third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to greater fame. Featuring an expansive sound and themes of modern alienation, it was acclaimed worldwide, often being named a landmark record of the 1990s.
The band's next recordings, Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), saw Radiohead reach their peak of global popularity even as their music divided fans and critics. The period marked a change in the band's style, with influences including experimental electronic music as well as Krautrock and jazz. The band's sixth album, Hail to the Thief (2003), blended styles from throughout their career, mixing guitar-driven rock, electronic influences and contemporary lyrics. Radiohead subsequently left their record label EMI, and released their seventh album, In Rainbows (2007), through their own website as a digital download for which customers could select their own price.
Biography & Album
Formation and first years: 1986–1991
Abingdon School, where the band formed
The members of Radiohead attended Abingdon School, a boys-only public school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Yorke and Colin Greenwood were in the same year, O'Brien and Selway were one year older and Jonny Greenwood two years younger. In 1986, they formed the band "On a Friday", the name referring to the band's usual rehearsal day in the school's music room. On a Friday played their first gig at Oxford's Jericho Tavern in late 1986. Jonny Greenwood joined as a keyboard player but soon became the lead guitarist. For a time the band's lineup included three saxophone players from a nearby girls' school and a keyboardist.
Although Phil Selway, Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood, and Ed O'Brien had left Abingdon by 1987 to attend university, the band continued to rehearse often on weekends and holidays. In 1991, when all the members except Jonny had completed their university degrees, On a Friday regrouped, but briefly changed their name to "Shindig." The band recorded demos, including the Manic Hedgehog demo tape, performed live around Oxford and appeared on the cover of a local music magazine Curfew. Although Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley had an active indie scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it centred around shoegazing bands such as Ride and Slowdive. On a Friday were never seen as fitting this trend and later commented that they had missed it by the time they returned from university.
As On a Friday's number of live performances increased, record labels and producers became interested. Chris Hufford, the co-owner of Oxford's Courtyard Studios, attended an early On a Friday concert at the Jericho Tavern. Impressed by the band, he and his partner Bryce Edge produced a demo tape and became On a Friday's managers. Hufford and Edge remain Radiohead's managers to this day. The band signed a six-album recording contract with EMI in late 1991, following a chance meeting between Colin Greenwood and label representative Keith Wozencroft at the record shop where Greenwood worked. At the request of the label, the band changed their name to Radiohead, inspired by the title of a song on Talking Heads' True Stories album.
Pablo Honey, The Bends and early success: 1992–1995
Drill, Radiohead's debut EP, was produced by Hufford and Edge at Courtyard Studios and released in March 1992. Its chart performance was poor, and consequently the band hired Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, who had previously worked with the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr., to produce their debut album, Pablo Honey. The album was recorded in three weeks in an Oxford studio late in 1992.
With the release of the "Creep" single in late 1992, the band began to receive attention in the British music press, although not all of it was favourable. NME described them as "a lily livered excuse for a rock band," and the song was not played on BBC Radio 1 because it was deemed "too depressing". In early 1993, Radiohead released another single, "Anyone Can Play Guitar", followed closely by Pablo Honey; neither did well commercially, especially Pablo Honey, which peaked at #32 in the UK and is considered by critics and the band to be their weakest album. A non-album single, "Pop is Dead", and the last single from Pablo Honey, "Stop Whispering" followed later that year; both performed poorly.
However, "Creep" unexpectedly built momentum, spreading from popularity in Israel to a San Francisco college radio station. By the time Radiohead began their first United States tour in early 1993, "Creep" was in heavy rotation on MTV. The song rose to #2 on the Billboard modern rock charts and to #7 in the UK singles chart when rereleased later that year. Radiohead nearly broke up due to the pressure of sudden success as the Pablo Honey supporting tour extended into its second year. The album continued to rise in popularity internationally, fuelled by "Creep", which remains Radiohead's largest worldwide hit. The band later said, however, that the tour had been a miserable experience because towards its end they were "still playing the same songs that [they'd] recorded two years previously...almost like being held in a time warp.
After the American tour, Radiohead began work on their second album, hiring veteran Abbey Road studios producer John Leckie. Tensions were high, as the band felt smothered both by "Creep"'s success and the mounting expectations for a superior follow-up. According to Leckie, "It was either going to be 'Sulk', 'The Bends', 'Nice Dream', or 'Just'. We had to give those absolute attention, make them amazing, instant smash hits, number 1 in America. Everyone was pulling their hair and saying, 'It's not good enough!' We were trying too hard".
The band sought a change of scenery, touring Australasia and the Far East in an attempt to reduce the pressure. However, confronted again by their new popularity, singer Thom Yorke felt discomfort at being "right at the sharp end of the sexy, sassy, MTV eye-candy lifestyle" he felt he was helping to sell. The 1994 EP My Iron Lung, featuring the single of the same title, was the band's reaction, marking a transition towards the greater depth they aimed for on their second album. The single was promoted through underground radio stations; it sold better than expected, starting a loyal fan base for the band. Having developed more new songs for their next album on tour, Radiohead finished recording it in late 1994. The band released their second album, The Bends in May 1995.
While the Britpop scene dominated the media's attention, Radiohead were finally successful in their home country with The Bends. The album was driven by dense riffs and ethereal atmospheres from the band's three guitarists, as well as greater use of keyboards than their debut. The singles "Fake Plastic Trees", "Just", and "High and Dry", featuring Yorke's expressive falsetto, achieved some chart success. Looking back in 1998, Jonny Greenwood said, "I think the turning point for us came about nine or 12 months after The Bends was released and it started appearing in people's [best of] polls for the end of the year. That's when it started to feel like we made the right choice about being a band, I think."
In mid-1995, Radiohead toured in support of R.E.M., one of their formative influences and at the time one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Introducing his opening act, Michael Stipe said, "Radiohead are so good, they scare me". The buzz generated by such famous fans, along with distinctive music videos for "Just" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", helped to expand Radiohead's popularity outside the UK. Drummer Phil Selway said, "When The Bends came out everyone went on about how uncommercial that was. Twelve months later it was being hailed as a pop classic. The record company were worried there wasn't a single on it- and we ended up with five top 30 hits from it!"
OK Computer, fame and critical acclaim: 1996–1998
Yorke in concert with Radiohead
Yorke said that The Bends succeeded because Radiohead "had to put ourselves into an environment where we felt free to work. And that's why we [produced] the next [album] ourselves, because the [best] times...on the last record were when we were just completely communicating with ourselves, and John Leckie wasn't really saying much, and it was just all happening".
One new song was already recorded: "Lucky", released as a single to promote the War Child charity's The Help Album. Radiohead also contributed two songs to Baz Luhrmann's 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet; "Talk Show Host" and "Exit Music (For a Film)". The former was a remix of one of the B-sides to "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", while the latter was a new song, eventually included on the band's next album.
With the assistance of audio engineer Nigel Godrich, their collaborator on "Lucky" and "Talk Show Host," Radiohead produced their next album themselves, beginning work in early 1996. By July they had recorded four songs with Godrich at their rehearsal studio, Canned Applause, a converted apple shed in the countryside near Didcot, Oxfordshire. They decided to perfect the songs live, touring as an opening act for Alanis Morissette, before completing the record. The rest of the album was recorded in actress Jane Seymour's 15th-century mansion, St. Catherine's Court, near Bath. The recording sessions were relaxed, with the band playing at all hours of the day, recording songs in different rooms, and listening to The Beatles, DJ Shadow, Ennio Morricone and Miles Davis for inspiration. Recording on the album was completed by the end of 1996, and by March 1997, it was mixed and mastered.
Radiohead released their third album, OK Computer, in June 1997 to widespread critical acclaim. Largely composed of melodic rock songs, the new record also found Radiohead experimenting with song structures and incorporating ambient, noise, and electronic influences. OK Computer was the band's first #1 UK chart debut, eventually propelling Radiohead to commercial success around the world. Despite peaking at #21 in the American charts, the album was eventually acclaimed as highly there, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and a nomination for Album of the Year. The band released "Paranoid Android", "Karma Police" and "No Surprises" as singles from the album, of which "Karma Police" was most successful in the U.S., peaking at #14.
Yorke admitted that he was "actually amazed [OK Computer] got the reaction it did. None of us fucking knew any more whether it was good or bad. What really blew my head off was the fact that people got all the things, all the textures and the sounds and the atmospheres we were trying to create."
The release of OK Computer was followed by the "Against Demons" world tour. Grant Gee, the director of the "No Surprises" video, accompanied and filmed the band on their tour. The resulting video was released as the 1998 "fly on the wall" documentary Meeting People Is Easy. The film portrays the band's disaffection with the music industry and press, showing their burnout as they progressed from their first tour dates in mid-1997 to mid-1998, nearly a year later. During this time the band released 7 Television Commercials, a compilation of music videos, and two EPs which compiled B-sides from OK Computer.
Kid A, Amnesiac and a change in sound: 1999–2001
Radiohead were largely inactive following their 1997-1998 tour; after its end, their only public performance in 1998 was at an Amnesty International concert in Paris. Yorke later admitted that during that period the band came close to splitting up, and that he had developed severe depression: "New Year's Eve  was one of the lowest points of my life... I felt like I was going fucking crazy. Every time I picked up a guitar I just got the horrors. I would start writing a song, stop after 16 bars, hide it away in a drawer, look at it again, tear it up, destroy it."
In early 1999, Radiohead began work on a follow-up to OK Computer. Although there was no longer any pressure or even a deadline from their record label, tension during this period was high. The members all had different visions for the band's future, and Yorke was still experiencing writer's block, influencing him toward a more abstract, fragmented form of songwriting. Eventually, all the members agreed on a new musical direction, redefining their instrumental roles in the band. For the first time the band recorded without considering live performance, secluding themselves with producer Nigel Godrich in a series of different studios from Paris to Copenhagen to Gloucester, to their newly completed studio in Oxford. In the process, they pared 40 newly recorded songs to the 30 which were ultimately released on their subsequent two albums and accompanying B-sides.
Radiohead's new tracks featured a minimalist and textured style with less overt guitar parts, as opposed to being a stylistic sequel to OK Computer . The tracks also featured more diverse instrumentation, going beyond the traditional rock setup of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards by including the ondes martenot, programmed electronic beats, strings and jazz horns. "The trick is to try and carry on doing things that interest you, but not turn into some art-rock nonsense just for its own sake", Colin Greenwood said of the recording sessions, which were completed in April 2000, after nearly 18 months.
Kid A, released in October 2000, was the first of two albums created from these recording sessions. Radiohead's greatest commercial success to date, Kid A debuted at number 1 in many countries, including the United States, where its debut atop the Billboard chart marked a first for the band, though it fell off the chart soon after. This commercial success has been variously attributed to hype; to the availability of the entire album on the Internet file-sharing network Napster a few months before its release; and to anticipation after OK Computer. Although Radiohead did not release any singles from Kid A, promos of "Optimistic" and "Idioteque" received some radio play, and a series of "blips", or short videos set to portions of tracks, were played on music channels and released freely on the Internet
Jonny Greenwood on Saturday Night Live in 2000, using a modular synthesizer, an instrument that featured in the recording of Kid A and Amnesiac.
In early 2001, Kid A received a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and a nomination for Album of the Year. Kid A received both praise and criticism in independent music circles for appropriating underground styles of music, while many mainstream critics saw Kid A as a "commercial suicide note" and longed for a return to the band's earlier style. Radiohead's fans were similarly divided; along with those who were appalled or mystified, were many who saw Kid A as the band's best work. Yorke, however, denied that Radiohead had purposely set out to eschew commercial expectations, saying, "I wouldn't be involved [with Kid A] if I wasn't aware that it was going to be a product. I always wanted whatever I did to end up in the high street, no matter what it was, because to me, there isn't anywhere else to go... And I'd be wary of thinking [Kid A]'s challenging, because that's not it."
On previous tours, Radiohead had performed in large, corporate-sponsored venues, but had expressed distaste for them. While promoting Kid A, the band, having read Naomi Klein's anti-globalization book No Logo, decided to mount a tour of Europe in a custom-built tent free of advertising. Radiohead also performed a mere three concerts in North America, their first performances there in over two years, selling out smaller theatres. Along with songs from Kid A, the band used the tour to perform unreleased songs that had been recorded at the same time as Kid A.
Amnesiac, released in June 2001, comprised those additional tracks. The album saw Radiohead's sound coalesce into a similar hybrid of electronic music and art rock, though in contrast to Kid A, it also featured more direct jazz influence. The piano ballad "Pyramid Song" was released as Radiohead's first single since 1997, hitting the UK top 5, and the guitar single "Knives Out" followed. Amnesiac was a critical and commercial success worldwide, reaching #2 in the US and being nominated for a Grammy Award and the Mercury Music Prize. After Amnesiac's release, the band embarked on a world tour, visiting North America, Europe and Japan. "I Might Be Wrong," initially planned as a third single from Amnesiac, expanded into the band's first and thus far only live record. I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, released in November 2001, featured live performances of songs from Kid A and Amnesiac, and an acoustic performance of the previously unreleased "True Love Waits".
Hail to the Thief and a hiatus: 2002–2004
During July and August 2002, Radiohead toured Portugal and Spain, using this opportunity to play new songs before an audience of their fans. The band then completed the album in two weeks in a Los Angeles studio with Nigel Godrich, with a few additional recordings done later in Oxford. Band members described the recording process as relaxed, in contrast to the tense Kid A/Amnesiac sessions.
Radiohead released their sixth album, Hail to the Thief, in June 2003. Upon its release, Hail to the Thief was noted for having a mix of influences from throughout Radiohead's career, combining guitar rock with an electronic sound and topical lyrics. Although the album was critically acclaimed, critics felt that the band was treading water creatively rather than continuing the "genre-redefining" trend that OK Computer had begun. Nevertheless, Hail to the Thief enjoyed commercial success in the U.S., debuting at #3 on the Billboard chart with the band's highest first week sales to date, but falling off soon after. The album's lead single, "There There", peaked at #4 in the UK, while subsequent singles "Go to Sleep" and "2+2=5" charted at #12 and #15 respectively. At the 2003 Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Best Alternative Album, while producers Nigel Godrich and Darrell Thorp received the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album.
Although Hail to the Thief's title was assumed to be a comment on the controversial 2000 American presidential election, Yorke has denied this, explaining that he first heard the phrase during a Radio 4 discussion of John Quincy Adams, "who stole the election and who was known as 'The Thief' throughout his presidency".Yorke explained that the album was influenced by world events of late 2001 and early 2002, but he also said, "It struck me as the most amazing, powerful phrase... It will annoy me if people say it's a direct protest because I feel really strongly that we didn't write a protest record, we didn't write a political record."
After the release of Hail to the Thief, Radiohead embarked on an international tour, which began with a June 2003 headlining performance at the Glastonbury Festival, and finished in mid-2004 with a performance at the Coachella Festival. The band released COM LAG in 2004, an EP compiling most of the b-sides from Hail to the Thief, fulfilling their contractual obligations to EMI. Following the tour, the band began writing and rehearsing in their Oxford studio, but soon went on hiatus, as both O'Brien and Colin Greenwood were expecting sons, and needed some time with their respective families. Free of any contractual obligations, Radiohead spent the remainder of 2004 resting and working on solo projects. The band released a DVD version of their webcast television show The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time in December 2004.
Radiohead - Pablo Honey
[ Album ]
Titolo: Pablo Honey
[ Tracklist ]
1. You [3:30]
2. Creep [3:57]
3. How do you? [2:14]
4. Stop whispering [5:27]
5. Thinking about you [2:43]
6. Anyone can play guitar [3:39]
7. Ripcord [3:11]
8. Vegetable [3:14]
9. Prove Yourself [2:27]
10. I can't [4:15]
11. Lurgee [3:09]
12. Blow out [4:40]
Radiohead - The Bends
[ Album ]
Titolo: The Bends
[ Tracklist ]
1. Planet Telex [4:18]
2. The Bends [4:06]
3. High And Dry [4:17]
4. Fake Plastic Trees [4:50]
5. Bones [3:07]
6. (Nice Dream) [3:53]
7. Just (You Do It To Yourself) [3:53]
8. My Iron Lung [4:36]
9. Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was [3:28]
10. Black Star [4:07]
11. Sulk [3:42]
12. Street Spirit (Fade Out) [4:13]
Radiohead - OK Computer
[ Album ]
Titolo: OK Computer
[ Tracklist ]
1. AirBag [4:46]
2. Paranoid Android [6:24]
3. Subterrean Homesick Alien [4:29]
4. Exit Music (For a Film) [4:26]
5. Let Down [5:00]
6. Karma Police [4:23]
7. Fitter Happier [1:59]
8. Electioneering [3:52]
9. Climbing up the Walls [4:47]
10. No Surprises [3:49]
11. Lucky [4:19]
12. The Tourist [5:23]
Radiohead - Kid A
[ Album ]
Titolo: Kid A
[ Info ]
YEAR: 2000 ID3G: 0
[ Tracklist ]
1. Everything In Its Right Place [4:11]
2. Kid A [4:44]
3. The National Anthem [5:51]
4. How To Disappear Completely [5:56]
5. Treefingers [3:42]
6. Optimistic [5:15]
7. In Limbo [3:31]
8. Idioteque [5:09]
9. Morning Bell [4:35]
10. Motion Picture Soundtrack [6:59]
Radiohead - Amnesiac
[ Album ]
[ Tracklist ]
1. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box [4:01]
2. Pyramid Song [4:48]
3. Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors [4:07]
4. You and Whose Army? [3:11]
5. I Might be Wrong [4:53]
6. Knives Out [4:14]
7. Morning Bell/Amnesiac [3:14]
8. Dollars and Cent [5:09]
9. Hunting Bears [5:23]
10. Like Spinning Plates [1:59]
11. Life in a Glasshouse [2:54]
Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
[ Album ]
Titolo: Hail to the Thief
[ Tracklist ]
1. 2 + 2 = 5 [3:24]
2. Sit Down Stand Up [4:15]
3. Sail To The Moon [4:28]
4. Backdrifts [5:31]
5. Go To Sleep [3:30]
6. Where I End and You Begin [4:33]
7. Suck Young Blood [4:58]
8. The Gloaming [4:22]
9. There There [5:24]
10. I Will [2:24]
11. Punch Up At A Wedding [4:55]
12. Myxomatosis [3:57]
13. Scatterbrain [3:23]
14. A Wolf At The Door [3:25]