Alt-rockers Radiohead formed in 1985 and compromises Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums, percussion) and Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals).
With a career that spans over 25 years, and with numerous number ones and countless high-profile music awards over the years, few other bands can claim to have had the same impact and influence on other alternative rock bands than Radiohead.
School friends Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O'Brien formed Radiohead whilst they were studying at Abingdon School in Oxfordshire, and were ‘discovered’ from an off-chance meeting between Colin Greenwood and an EMI A&R representative at Colin’s record shop where he worked.
In the early days, Radiohead citied The Pixies as one of their biggest influences and the band released their first EP, The Drill in 1992 which contained the single “Creep,” as well as three other singles, but they failed to put the band on the map, although “Creep” achieved cult status in later years.
Radiohead released the debut album Pablo Honey (1993) which was heavily influenced by the likes of Grunge artists such as Nirvana, but also failed to make a major impact on the music charts.
The band’s 1995 release The Bends marked the beginning of Radiohead’s journey into becoming one of the world’s best loved rock bands of all time. "My Iron Lung," "High and Dry" and "Fake Plastic Trees” were all popular singles and allowed the band to tour across the Unites States with one of the most defining artists of the ‘90s: R.E.M.
1995 proved to be the defining moment for Radiohead, after touring with Alanis Morissette, the band recorded new material and gaining inspiration by listening to different genres of music ranging from The Beatles, DJ Shadow, Ennio Morricone and Miles Davis.
By 1997 Radiohead had released their seminal hit album OK Computer which contained the hit singles "Paranoid Android", "Karma Police" and "No Surprises”. With nearly 5 million albums sold, the album earned the band their first Grammy and received critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone (magazine) were the band received comparisons to the legendary Pink Floyd, although the band was quick to dismiss their music as ‘progressive’.
Following the success of OK Computer, frontman Thom Yorke went through a turbulent period, and suffered writers block. It took another 18 months for the band to complete recording Radiohead’s next album Kid A.
Kid A was Radiohead’s fourth album and was released in 2000 and incorporated different instruments and sounds from OK Computer. This included electronic bleeps, strings, horns and was hard to pin down to any one genre as it contained elements of dance, jazz, classical and rock.
The album was highly successful and reached #1 in many countries, including the US, although was leaked early at the time via the illegal file-sharing site Napster (which was later closed).
Radiohead’s follow-up album Amnesia (2001) was similar to Kid A, and featured the same instruments and sounds. Amnesia reached #2 in the US and was nominated for both the Mercury Music Prize and a Grammy. With the success of the album, the band embarked on a world tour.
During the early 2000s, Radiohead recorded new material for their sixth album Hail to the Thief (2003) which was in response to the “war on terror”, the tragic events that happened in the US in September 2001. The album again reached #1 in the UK and France, and on the top 10 across the other countries’ charts, and included the singles “There There", "Go to Sleep" and "2 + 2 = 5".
In the mid-2000’s, Radiohead had finished their record contract with EMI and were free to promote and sell music on their own terms. The result was possibly their most radical and progressive work they had ever done before, entitled In Rainbows.
In Rainbows was released in 2007 to a rapturous applaud and allowed fans to pay what they felt the digital album was worth, and the album sold 3 million physical copies worldwide in the first year alone.
The album was groundbreaking and changed the way the music was being sold and this opened the floodlights for other bands to the same (later on Kaiser Chiefs emulated their idea).
Two years later and further world changing events altered Radiohead’s path, and saw the band raise funds for victims of the earthquake in Haiti with a special show. The band worked with YouTube to make the concert available online where people watching could donate money for the cause.
Radiohead’s second self-released album The King of Limbs (2011) reached the top 10, and was one of the few albums not to go straight to the #1. Further experimentation with ‘natural sound’s and use of acoustic as well as folk, rock and jazz were incorporated on the album. The band went onto perform songs from their new album with an impromptu gig at Glastonbury in 2011.