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Band Biography And Information

The five members of Radiohead first met at a private boys school in Abingdon, a small, picturesque town on the outskirts of Oxford. Thom Yorke (b. 7 October 1968, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England; vocals/guitar) had been given his first instrument, a Spanish guitar, at the age of eight by his mother. He formed his first band two years later, then joined an existing school punk band, TNT. Singing for the first time, he realized he would require more sympathetic band members and formed what would become Radiohead with school friends Ed O'Brien (b. 15 April 1968, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England; guitar), "who looked cool", and Colin Greenwood (b. 26 June 1969, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England; bass) "because he was in my year and we always ended up at the same parties". They shared an interest in Joy Division and the Smiths and Greenwood earned Yorke's sympathy for joining TNT after him. Mild-mannered drummer Phil Selway (b. 23 May 1967, Hemmingford Grey, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England; drums) bound the new band, titled On A Friday, together. The addition of Colin's brother and jazz fanatic, Jonny Greenwood (b. 5 November 1972, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England; guitar/keyboards) completed the line-up, originally on harmonica, after he pestered his elder brother and friends continually to let him join. In 1987, a week after his first rehearsal with the band, On A Friday played their debut gig at the now defunct Jericho Tavern in Oxford. With a musical canon resembling a youthful Talking Heads, they added two saxophone-playing sisters to fill out the line-up. However, the band were then put on hold while the members pursued their academic careers, in an effort to appease already frantic parents (Jonny finished his schooling). Colin became entertainments officer at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University, and helped get his friends together for occasional gigs there. At Exeter University, Yorke played guitar in a techno band, Flickernoise, while Selway drummed for various theatrical productions ( Blood Brothers, Return To The Forbidden Planet ) while studying at Liverpool Polytechnic. The band finally regrouped in Oxford in the summer of 1991, but without the brass section. They recorded two demos and gained a deal with EMI Records before changing their name to Radiohead (after a Talking Heads song). Their first commercial broadcast followed when "Prove Yourself', from the Drill EP, was voted Gary Davies "Happening Track Of The Week" on BBC Radio 1. Two minor hit singles were followed by "Creep", the alternative rock song of 1993, with a self-loathing lyric ("I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo, I don't belong here") stretched over driven guitars that at one point simply explode. Ignored when it was first released in September 1992, its re-release sparked enormous interest as the band toured with Kingmaker and James. Taking the band into the UK Top 10 and the US Top 40, it also announced a Top 30 debut album, Pablo Honey. Unlike other celebrated UK indie hopefuls such as Suede, Radiohead also translated well to international tastes, from the USA to Egypt. Two years of promotional activity followed, before the release of The Bends in March 1995. With the pressure on following the plaudits, the recording process was not easy. With hardly a note recorded over two months, producer John Leckie ordered all bar Yorke out of the studio and told the singer to "just fucking play it". The songs came, and he and the rest of the band relocated to Abbey Road Studios to finish off the album in a mere three weeks. The Bends did not disappoint, with a vibrant mood range encouraging Yorke's prosaic yet affecting lyrics: "When your insides fall to pieces, You just sit there wishing you could still make love". Notable tracks included the hypnotic "High And Dry" and "Fake Plastic Trees", and the UK Top 5 single "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". By the end of 1995 The Bends had been universally acclaimed, enough to win them a BRIT Awards nomination as the best band of the year. Two years later, they unveiled the follow-up, OK Computer, which received the most spectacular reviews of any rock album in recent memory, and won the band a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Alternative Rock Performance. In polls (notably the All-Time Top 1000 Albums book) the band received massive press exposure when they became the first and only band in recent history to really threaten the Beatles' domination. Their next album took a long time to record, and the huge anticipation suurounding Kid A was matched by the shock it caused when made available to the public. Instead of taking a safe route and building on the style of their last two albums, the band delivered a challenging electronic album, almost free of guitars and closer to the space age prog rock of Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Reviews were initially mixed, but the fact that it entered both the UK chart and the Billboard 200 at number 1 cannot be ignored.


Radiohead was one of the few alternative bands of the early '90s to draw heavily from the grandiose arena-rock that characterized U2's early albums. But the band internalized that epic sweep, turning it inside out to tell tortured, twisted tales of angst and alienation. Vocalist Thom Yorke's pained lyrics were brought to life by the group's three-guitar attack, which relied on texture -- borrowing as much from My Bloody Valentine and Pink Floyd as R.E.M. and the Pixies -- instead of virtuosity. It took Radiohead a while to formulate their signature sound. Their 1993 debut, Pablo Honey, only suggested their potential, and one of its songs, "Creep," became an unexpected international hit, its angst-ridden lyrics making it an alternative rock anthem. Many observers pigeonholed Radiohead as a one-hit wonder, but the group's second album, The Bends, was released to terrific reviews in the band's native Britain in early 1995, helping build a more stable fan base. Having demonstrated unexpected staying power, as well as increasing ambition, Radiohead next released OK Computer, a progressive, electronic-tinged masterpiece that became one of the most acclaimed albums of the '90s. Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar), Ed O'Brien (guitar, vocals), Jonny Greenwood (guitar), Colin Greenwood (bass) and Phil Selway (drums) formed Radiohead as students at Oxford University in 1988. Initially called On a Friday, the band began pursuing a musical career in earnest in the early '90s, releasing the Drill EP in 1992. Shortly afterward, the group signed to EMI/Capitol and released the single "Creep," a fusion of R.E.M. and Nirvana highlighted by a noisy burst of feedback prior to the chorus. "Creep" was a moderate hit, and their next two singles, "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and "Pop is Dead," built a small following, even as the British music press ignored the group. Pablo Honey, Radiohead's debut album, was released to mixed reviews in the spring of 1993. As the band launched a European supporting tour, "Creep" became a sudden smash hit in America, earning heavy airplay on modern rock radio and MTV. On the back of the single's success, Radiohead toured the U.S. extensively, opening for Belly and Tears for Fears. All the exposure helped Pablo Honey go gold, and "Creep" was re-released in the U.K. at the end of 1993. This time, the single became a Top Ten hit, and the band spent the following summer touring the world.Although "Creep" made Radiohead a success, it also led many observers to peg the band as one-hit wonders. Conscious of such thinking, the group entered the studio with producer John Leckie to record their second album, The Bends. Upon its spring 1995 release, The Bends was greeted with overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews, all of which praised the group's deeper, more mature sound. However, positive reviews didn't sell albums, as Radiohead struggled to be heard during the U.K.'s summer of Brit-pop and as American radio programmers and MTV ignored the record. The band continued to tour as the opening act on R.E.M.'s prestigious Monster tour. By the end of the year, The Bends began to catch on, thanks not only to the band's constant touring, but also to the stark, startling video for "Just." The album made many year-end best-of lists in the U.K., and early in 1996 the record re-entered the British Top Ten and climbed to gold status in the U.S., helped in the latter by the video for "Fake Plastic Trees." During the first half of 1996, Radiohead continued to tour before re-entering the studio that fall to record their third album, OK Computer, which was released in the summer of 1997. A devoted following of fans, and a handful of enthusiastic critical supporters immediately embraced the album's majestic blend of unfettered prog-rock, post-punk angst, eerie electronic textures, and assured songwriting. Since it skillfully teetered between rock classicism and futurism, it earned near-unanimous critical and popular support over the course of the year, which turned into unrestrained adoration in the final two years of the decade, even though its sales still hadn't climbed above gold status. Expectations for the band's fourth album were stratospheric, which placed additional pressure on the already perfectionist band, and led to several stumbling blocks along the way. An intense buzz of excitement among the band's still-growing following greeted the pre-release appearance of most of the album's tracks on the Internet in MP3 form; they displayed an all-out fascination with challenging, often minimalist electronica. Titled Kid A, the album was finally released in October 2000, and astonished many observers by debuting at number one on the U.S. album charts. While not releasing any singles or embarking on a formal tour, the album met with a mixed critical response as the band was accused of creating a distant and radio unfriendly record; However, it did remain a fan favorite. In June of 2001, Radiohead quickly released an album under the name Amnesiac which consisted of material that was recorded during the Kid A sessions. The band made it very clear though that it was not to be considered an outakes album; Rather, they insisted that the two albums were of clear and separate concept. Regardless, Amnesiac debuted at number one in the U.K. and number two on the U.S. chart (behind then strong hold, Staind), while outselling Kid A in week one by 25,000 copies. The singles Pyramid Song and I Might Be Wrong were culled from Amnesiac with a subsequent world tour.


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