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Radiohead (left to right): Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway
|Origin||Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England|
|Years active||1985 – present|
XL, TBD (present)|
Parlophone, Capitol (1992–2005)
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The lead singer and lyrics writer of the band is Thom Yorke, who also plays guitar and piano. Thom is known for his high voiced singing style and the band is known for their different style of rock music.
The band has five members, and three of them play guitar. In their early years, Radiohead was known for their layered and heavy guitar sound. In later years, the band began using other instruments too, and creating more electronic sounds. The band still performs live and attracts large crowds of fans to sold-out concerts, even though they play many different styles of music.
Most bands from England are not successful outside their home country of the UK. But Radiohead is successful in the UK and also in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Australia, Israel, Japan and other parts of Asia. Radiohead does not sell as much as the biggest pop artists in the world, but they are recognized by fans and music critics. Lots of people and magazines have called their albums some of the best ever made. They have made eight albums so far, the latest, The King of Limbs was released in 2011. The band also works to help environmental and peace causes.
Radiohead started in 1985. The members of the band went to school together at Abingdon School, a boys' school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The band first called themselves "On a Friday". The band would usually rehearse on Friday in their school's music room.
On A Friday signed a contract with EMI, a large record label, in 1991. They changed their name to "Radiohead". This name came from the song "Radio Head" on the album True Stories by Talking Heads. They released their first EP, called Drill, in May 1992. It was not very popular. Radiohead started work on their first album. It was called Pablo Honey and it was recorded in 1992 in a studio in Oxford. They released their first single, "Creep", late in 1992. They released Pablo Honey in February 1993. The album did not become popular, but "Creep" did, and the band got a lot of fans because of it. At the time, Radiohead's style of music was not very popular, and people said it sounded like Nirvana, but was not as good. They said that other Britpop bands, like Suede, were better. "Creep" was played on the radio at a lot of colleges around the world, however. When Radiohead went on tour in the United States in early 1993, the music video for "Creep" was being played a lot on MTV.
Radiohead made an EP in 1994. This was called My Iron Lung, and contained the title single, and seven songs known as B-sides (because they were not on a full length album). The main song, "My Iron Lung", was about the way fans had reacted to their song "Creep". The band was happy the song had been a hit, because otherwise they might not have been able to continue the band. But the band, especially Thom Yorke, were reluctant to be celebrities. They were already disturbed by the workings of the music industry. They felt they had no control over things. "Creep" was popular, so they felt under pressure to make more similar songs. They hated the way "Creep" was the only Radiohead song anyone listened to at their concerts, yet it was all that was keeping them popular and afloat in the record industry. The "iron lung" was a metaphor for such a "life support".
Their second normal album, The Bends, came out in 1995. The song "My Iron Lung" was on it, along with 11 new ones. The band released four more songs as singles: "Fake Plastic Trees", "High and Dry", "Just" and "Street Spirit [Fade Out]". None of these songs were as popular as "Creep" around the world. Radiohead was now a one-hit wonder to many people in America. Songs from The Bends did not get played on the radio very much there. But the album became very popular in Radiohead's home of the UK. It also got excellent reviews from music critics, unlike the band's first album. Many said it was one of the best rock records in memory. The album was produced by John Leckie, a veteran at EMI's Abbey Road studios. As a young man Leckie had assisted on Pink Floyd albums in the 1970s.
The band's lineup was the same for The Bends. Thom Yorke and Ed O'Brien played rhythm and auxiliary guitar; Thom sang and Ed sang backup. Phil Selway played drums and percussion. Colin Greenwood played bass guitar. Radiohead's lead guitarist was Jonny Greenwood, Colin's younger brother. Jonny was also younger than any of the other members. Jonny was the only member of the band who did not graduate from university. He was also the only member who had attended music school. Jonny had had to leave university after a few months to join Radiohead on a tour when they became popular. But he played in an orchestra when he was young, and he had a knowledge of classical and experimental music and jazz. Thus, Jonny became the band's musical expert. At this stage he already played many instruments, such as keyboard.
It was Jonny's complex and cathartic guitar solos in songs like "Just" and "The Bends" that soon began to attract notice. So did his simpler playing in other songs. The circle of Radiohead fans began to grow. Thom Yorke's lyrics also began talking about larger more political themes during this time. Mostly, they were still about personal disappointments, loves, losses, depression, unease, and anger. But Thom wrote songs like "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit" which found the source of the unease in the larger structure of society, not the individual.
Radiohead's style of music had gotten more mature, according to most people, without changing too much. Some others felt their songwriting had improved so much it was no longer unrecognizable. The band used more keyboards and acoustic guitar this time, and made a more subtle atmosphere. But electric guitars were the main instrument used on the record. Some of Radiohead's influences this time were: the post-punk band Magazine, the singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, Morrissey's (former Smiths singer) Vauxhall & I, and the music of R.E.M. That band had inspired Radiohead from the beginning. Radiohead would get a chance to tour with them in summer 1995, after releasing the album. Lead singer Michael Stipe became a friend and mentor to Thom, and also a public fan of Radiohead. In 1995 he said "they're so good, they're scary".
The band's influences had expanded once more by the time of their next album OK Computer.
With OK Computer, the band started the next section of their career. They started using more sounds from electronic music. They released the album Kid A which had a lot less use of guitar than on previous albums, but was still called one of their best albums (with some people calling it their best). An album of songs recorded during this time, but that did not appear on Kid A was released, called Amnesiac. In 2003 they released the album Hail To The Thief which was a return to a sound with more guitars and less use of electronic sounds. In 2008 they released In Rainbows. It was first released for free on the band's website, then released properly on January 1, 2008.
|OK Computer||Best Album||Nominated|
|"Paranoid Android"||Best Single||Nominated|
|1999||"No Surprises"||Best British Video||Nominated|
|2001||Radiohead||Best British Group||Nominated|
|1998||OK Computer||Best Alternative Music Performance||Won|
|Album of the Year||Nominated|
|1999||Airbag/How Am I Driving?||Best Alternative Music Performance||Nominated|
|2000||Meeting People Is Easy||Best Music Video Long Form||Nominated|
|2001||Kid A||Best Alternative Music Performance||Won|
|Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2002||Amnesiac||Best Alternative Music Performance||Nominated|
|2004||"There There"||Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|Hail to the Thief||Best Alternative Music Performance||Nominated|
|2009||"House of Cards"||Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|Best Music Video Short Form||Nominated|
|In Rainbows||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Alternative Music Album||Won|
Ivor Novello Awards
|2008||In Rainbows||Album Award||Won|
|1997||OK Computer||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2001||Amnesiac||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2003||Hail to the Thief||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2008||In Rainbows||Album of the Year||Nominated|
MTV Video Music Awards
|1997||"Paranoid Android"||Breakthrough Video||Nominated|
|1998||"Karma Police"||Best Group Video||Nominated|
|Best Alternative Video||Nominated|
|2003||"There There"||Best Art Direction||Won|
|Best Special Effects||Nominated|
|2008||In Rainbows||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2001||Radiohead||Best Act in the World Today||Won|
|2002||Radiohead||Best Act in the World Today||Won|
- Craig McLean (14 June 2003). Don't worry, be happy. The Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed 25 November 2008.
- Randall Mac (1 April 1998). "The Golden Age of Radiohead". Guitar World.
- Michael Hastings. True Stories > Overview. Allmusic. Accessed 27 November 2008.
- Greg Prato. Thom Yorke > Biography. Allmusic. Accessed 27 November 2008.
- Radiohead: a brief history (10 October 2007). NME. Accessed 28 November 2008.
- Andrew Smith (1 October 2000). Sound and fury. The Guardian. Accessed 28 November 2008.
- "Creepshow". Melody Maker. 19 December 1992.
- "Radiohead". Rock on the Net. http://www.rockonthenet.com/artists-r/radiohead_main.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "40th Grammy Awards". Rock on the Net. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1998/grammys.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "43th Grammy Awards - 2001". Rock on the Net. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/2001/grammys.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "51th Grammy Awards - 2009". Rock on the Net. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/2009/grammys.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Amy Winehouse gets dad to pick up Ivor Novello award". NME. 2008-05-22. http://www.nme.com/news/amy-winehouse/36815. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
- "Mercury Prize 2008: The nominees". BBC. 2008-07-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7519452.stm. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "2003 Video Music Awards". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2003/. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Album of the Year". PLUG Awards. http://www.plugawards.com/award_nominees_2008.php. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
- Radiohead.com, official site