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General information
origin Abingdon , Oxfordshire , England
Genre (s) Alternative rock , art rock , electronica , post rock , Britpop
founding 1985
Founding members
Thom Yorke
Jonny Greenwood
Ed O'Brien
Colin Greenwood
Phil Selway
Jonny Greenwood at Rock Oz'Arènes in Avenches - August 2006

Radiohead is a British rock band formed in Oxford , England in 1985 . At that time still appearing under the name "On a Friday", in 1989 and 1992 respectively the renaming in Radiohead took place, after a song of the Talking Heads called Radio Head . The band made their breakthrough with Britpop and Alternative Rock , but from the mid-1990s their music became more experimental and approached post-rock and electronica .

The band consists of Thom Yorke ( vocals , rhythm guitar , piano ), Jonny Greenwood ( lead guitar , keyboard , Ondes Martenot ), Colin Greenwood ( electric bass , keyboard), Ed O'Brien ( guitar , background vocals ) and Phil Selway ( Drums , background vocals). The band has sold almost 40 million records worldwide.

Radiohead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 after being nominated the previous year .


The band was founded in 1985 at the Abingdon School in Abingdon near Oxford - at that time under the name On a Friday , because they always rehearsed on Fridays. At the beginning of 1986 the first appearance in the Jericho Tavern in Oxford followed. In 1987 Yorke , O'Brien , Selway , and Colin Greenwood left school to study, but the band met regularly on weekends and holidays. It wasn't until 1991 that the band became increasingly professional and that year signed a contract with EMI for six albums. At the suggestion of the record company, the name was later changed to Radiohead .

Radiohead's first commercial release was the EP Drill in May 1992. At the time of recording, the band was still called On a Friday , but the name was changed a short time later, so that Radiohead was already on the cover. With the single Creep (first released in September 1992), which stayed in the charts of many countries for a long time , the band had their first great success. Still, for a long time the band had a very divided relationship with the song that made them famous, and it is only recently that creep has been played more often at concerts. 1993 appeared with Pablo Honey, the debut album, which reached number 22 in the British charts and was received muted by the critics. However, the following singles Anyone Can Play Guitar and Stop Whispering and later Pop Is Dead sold poorly, as did the EP My Iron Lung released in 1994 .

It was not until the second album The Bends , in which music producer John Leckie Nigel Godrich took part for the first time in the role of co-producer, who over time became the "sixth member of the band", that the band made it back to higher chart positions in 1995. The album was also mostly rated very well by critics. The Bends mostly contained melodic rock songs, but in terms of style and sound it stood out clearly from the then dominant Britpop .

After two years in which the band was almost exclusively on tour and tested new song material such as Airbag , Paranoid Android and Subterranean Homesick Alien , they released the album OK Computer in 1997 . At first it was received mostly restrained and was considered by not a few critics at a time when Oasis was considered by many to be the most important British rock band, as overly complex, overloaded and pretentious. But after a while OK Computer developed to a great success with critics and audiences, found even greater approval in surveys of music magazines than The Bends and was recognized by the press and fans as one of the best albums of the 1990s; meanwhile it is widely regarded as one of the best rock albums ever. With OK Computer , which won a Grammy in 1998 , the band finally broke new ground, which was unusual for the classic Britpop that had dominated until then , by experimenting with , for example, spatial sound , noise and computer-generated voices. OK Computer also made Radiohead known in the USA.

Ed O'Brien at Rock Oz'Arènes in Avenches - August 2006

After a world tour, there was a break in the second half of 1998, during which the band rarely performed and avoided the public. This reluctance initially continued after the release of the fourth album Kid A in 2000. The album was hardly advertised, the band gave very few interviews, and music videos were only published on the Internet. In addition, no singles were released from Kid A. Nevertheless, the album, on which the band significantly expanded their experiments with different styles and unconventional sounds and song structures, reached number 1 in the US charts, possibly also because the album was available on the then globally popular music exchange Napster before it was released. Also, Kid A received, as has been the two previous albums, mostly very good reviews.

The fifth album Amnesiac was published in the middle of next year and consisted of further material of the same recording sessions as Kid A . Both albums are stylistically similar. In contrast to Kid A, however, singles were decoupled from Amnesiac , among which the Pyramid Song is the best known; the song is rhythmically unusual, but otherwise orientates itself more strongly than most of the other tracks on the two albums to classic song structures.

After another big tour, the band released their sixth album Hail to the Thief in 2003 , which is less based on electronic experiments than its two predecessors, but still differed significantly from the guitar-driven rock of the early days. The title of the album caused a sensation because it was interpreted in the USA as an allusion to the controversial outcome of the American presidential election in 2000 . To the annoyance of the band, Hail to the Thief was available in a raw mixed version on the internet a few months before the official release. In interviews, however, Radiohead was upset that EMI had provided the CD version of the album with copy protection against the will of the band .

With the release of Hail to the Thief , Radiohead's contract with EMI had expired. The five musicians showed little interest in extending it, but did not reach an agreement with another record company.

In 2003, Jonny Greenwood was the first band member to release Bodysong, a solo album as a soundtrack for the documentary of the same name by Simon Pummel . In 2006 Thom Yorke also released the album The Eraser , a solo record with electronically accompanied pop songs.

Colin Greenwood at the Bonnaroo Music Festival - June 2006

After a world tour in 2006, Radiohead worked on the completion of their new album In Rainbows . Since Radiohead had not signed a new record deal, the album, which was released on October 10, 2007, was only available as a download or disc box as a self-distribution through the band's website until December 2007. The customer determined the price for the download himself. The album is now also available on iTunes and on CD.

On August 5, 2009, Radiohead published the song Harry Patch (In Memory Of) on their website in honor of the oldest war veteran in the British Army of the First World War, Harry Patch , who died on July 25, 2009 . A few weeks later the band gave away their new song These Are My Twisted Words as a download, also on their website.

In 2010 fans of the band released a live recording of a concert in Prague: On August 23, 2009, 50 visitors filmed an entire concert from different viewpoints and published the recordings as a free download. The soundtrack for this was provided directly by the band.

In an interview, Ed O'Brien said the band would release a new album in late 2010. He contradicted singer Thom Yorke, who had previously stated that the band would only release EPs and singles. On February 14, 2011, Radiohead finally announced their eighth studio album -  The King of Limbs  - which was released digitally on February 18 and in physical form on March 25. At the end of 2011, several songs were released that were not ready in time for the album's release, including the single The Daily Mail . From 2012 to 2014 the band took a break while the musicians pursued other projects. In 2015 the group was commissioned to deliver the theme song for the film James Bond 007: Specter , but the result was ultimately rejected by the film studio as "too gloomy".

On May 8, 2016, her ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool, was released as a download and via several streaming services; Since June 2016 the album has also been available on CD and vinyl. It was received mostly positively to enthusiastically by the critics.

On June 11, 2019, Radiohead released demos from the time of OK Computer after a hacker leaked the songs after attempting to blackmail them. The recordings were officially self-published as MiniDiscs [Hacked] for a limited period of time. The income generated in the context of the publication will benefit the social movement Extinction Rebellion , which campaigns against mass extinction and the climate crisis .

Ed O'Brien released his first solo album ( Earth ) in April 2020 . The album contains a duet with Laura Marling .


Thom Yorke at Rock Oz'Arènes in Avenches - August 2006

Radiohead have changed a lot stylistically over the years and can hardly be assigned to a single genre.

At the start of their careers, they were assigned to the Britpop wave. Not least because of the success of the single Creep , they were considered by some to be a one-hit wonder at the time. Their second album The Bends was then assessed by most of the critics as a surprising, consistent further development that "sums up the strongest moments of its predecessor Pablo Honey ". Although it still has a catchiness typical of the early Radiohead phase, it is much more complex and epic compared to its predecessor.

This tendency continued on their next album, OK Computer . The band combined the sound of The Bends with influences from ambient , avant-garde and electronic music. The result was received positively by critics almost without exception and is considered one of the most influential and important albums of the 1990s.

Tired of the long tour to OK Computer , the band waited until 2000 to release their follow-up album Kid A. Radiohead stayed true to their path of consistently developing their sound. The band gave no interviews to Kid A . In addition, no music videos were published or singles were released. The guitar plays a much smaller role on this album than on all previous albums, instead electronic sounds and influences from krautrock , free jazz and modern classical music dominate .

Like OK Computer , it won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album . Kid A was received very differently by critics and fans . Some see the album as a “total work of art that transcends borders”, but some fans couldn't do anything with the band's new direction. However, despite its complexity, the album was a commercial success.

The fifth studio album, Amnesiac, followed just a few months after Kid A and is often compared to this one, as the pieces on the two albums originated in the same sessions. Amnesiac , too, can by no means be described with one genre term alone, but uses elements from a wide variety of styles, jazz in particular is more pronounced here than on any other Radiohead album. Overall, however, it continues the direction taken on Kid A.

With the two releases Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows , Radiohead returned a bit to guitar music, but that doesn't mean that the electronic borrowings and broken song structures of the previous albums have disappeared. Rather, both albums are an intersection of all previous albums. For example, record tests online writes to In Rainbows : "One could even speak of stagnation because Radiohead apparently no longer necessarily strives forwards, but also sideways and backwards in order to reflect on virtues that have already been developed."

The Rolling Stone listed Radiohead as one of the 100 greatest musicians as well as the 100 best songwriters of all time at number 73.


Phil Selway - May 2006

In the course of time Thom Yorke (mentioned on the CDs as “Tchocky”, “Dr Tchock”, “The White Chocolate Farm” etc.) developed an idiosyncratic artwork together with Stanley Donwood . The collaboration with the former classmate began with The Bends . The artwork continued to develop and since OK Computer has been very important to the band. In Kid A and Amnesiac , it consists mostly of gloomy landscapes.

For Hail to the Thief , Yorke and Donwood developed a design that resembles a colorful city map with different "media" terms. Yorke took this from the news because it triggered certain feelings in him and, in his opinion, was therefore used specifically by broadcasters, companies and politicians. In an interview he refers to the " newspeak " (Newspeak) , one in George Orwell's novel 1984 occurring language.


Studio albums

year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placementsTemplate: chart table / maintenance / without sources
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1993 Pablo Honey - - CH91 (1 week)
Double platinum
× 2
Double platinum

(82 weeks)UK

(26 weeks)US
First published: February 22, 1993
Sales: + 2,200,000
1995 The Bends DE73 (7 weeks)
AT37 (1 week)
- UK4th
Quadruple platinum
× 4
Quadruple platinum

(155 weeks)UK

(24 weeks)US
First published: March 13, 1995
Sales: + 3,500,000
1997 OK computer DE13 (25 weeks)
AT13 (16 weeks)

(16 weeks)CH
Quintuple platinum + gold (2017)
× 5
Quintuple platinum + gold (2017)
Quintuple platinum + gold (2017)

(87 weeks)UK
Double platinum
× 2
Double platinum

(58 weeks)US
First published: June 16, 1997
New edition: June 23, 2017 as OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017
Sales: + 5,645,000
2000 Kid A DE4 (6 weeks)
AT5 (5 weeks)
CH8 (7 weeks)

(15 weeks)UK

(28 weeks)US
First published: October 2, 2000
Sales: + 2,500,000
2001 Amnesiac DE2 (10 weeks)
AT1 (12 weeks)
CH6 (14 weeks)

(12 weeks)UK

(16 weeks)US
First published: June 4, 2001
Sales: + 1,755,000
2003 Hail to the Thief DE3 (10 weeks)
AT6 (11 weeks)

(14 weeks)CH

(14 weeks)UK

(20 weeks)US
First published: June 9, 2003
Sales: + 1,700,000
2007 In rainbows DE8 (7 weeks)
AT12 (6 weeks)
CH2 (13 weeks)

(21 weeks)UK

(52 weeks)US
First published: October 10, 2007
Sales: + 1,015,000
2011 The King of Limbs DE13 (5 weeks)
AT11 (4 weeks)
CH8 (9 weeks)

(9 weeks)UK
US3 (15 weeks)
First published: February 18, 2011
Sales: + 140,000
2016 A moon shaped pool DE3 (11 weeks)
AT4 (12 weeks)
CH1 (21 weeks)

(32 weeks)UK

(16 weeks)US
First published: May 8, 2016
Sales: + 750,000

Musical work outside the band

  • 1998: Velvet Goldmine - OST-CD - Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood as members of the fictional film band Venus in furs
  • 1998: El President - Maxi-CD with Drugstore - Thom Yorke
  • 1998: Rabbit in Your Headlights - Maxi-CD with UNKLE - Thom Yorke
  • 2000: I've Seen It All - duet with Björk - Thom Yorke (to be found on SelmaSongs , the soundtrack to the film Dancer in the Dark )
  • 2000: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea - CD with PJ Harvey - Thom Yorke (in a duet in This Mess We're In and in the background in One Line and Beautiful Feeling )
  • 2001: 7 Worlds Collide - CD & DVD with Neil Finn - Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway
  • 2004: Bodysong - CD & DVD - Jonny Greenwood
  • 2005: Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway are members of the fictional band The Weird Sisters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire .
  • 2006: The Eraser - CD - Thom Yorke
  • 2007: There Will Be Blood - CD - Jonny Greenwood
  • 2007: The White Flash - Modeselektor feat. Thom Yorke
  • 2007: Spitting Feathers [Japan Only] - single / audio CD - Thom Yorke
  • 2009: The Eraser Remixes - CD - Thom Yorke
  • 2009: FeelingPulledApartbyHorses + The Hollow Earth as 12 ″ - Thom Yorke
  • 2009: All for the Best - Thom Yorke (+ Andy Yorke) on Ciao My Shining Star , a tribute album for Mark Mulcahy (singer of The Miracle Legion )
  • 2009: Hearing Damage - Thom Yorke - New Moon soundtrack
  • 2010: Familial - Philip Selway
  • 2010: Norwegian Wood - CD - Jonny Greenwood
  • 2011: Running Blind EP - EP - Philip Selway
  • 2013: Amok - CD - Atoms for Peace - Thom Yorke
  • 2014: Weatherhouse - CD - Philip Selway
  • 2014: Tomorrow's Modern Boxes - CD - Thom Yorke


  • 1996: Release of Talk Show Host on the soundtrack for Romeo + Juliet
  • 2002: Everything In Its Right Place was released on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack
  • 2006: Paranoid Android released on the soundtrack for Ergo Proxy (Ergo Proxy OST 1)
  • 2011: TKOL RMX 1234567 (double CD) songs from their album The King of Limbs are released, remixed by various musicians.



Music books

  • 2008: The Bends (Songbook TAB)
  • 2008: OK Computer (Songbook TAB)

Web links

Commons : Radiohead  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. OrcaSound, July 16, 2018; last checked on April 26, 2019
  2. Musikexpress : Radiohead were inducted into the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" , April 1st, 2019, last checked on August 5th, 2019.
  3. Christoph Dallach: “By the way, Dad, we're going to demonstrate” - Interview with Thom Yorke . In: Zeit-Magazin No. 30 of July 18, 2019, pp. 14–20, here p. 19.
  4. Interview. ( Memento of the original from December 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice., May 22, 2003; last checked on November 20, 2008 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. to The Bends . Allmusic Review
  6. ^ Richard Menta: Did Napster Take Radiohead's New Album to Number 1? MP3 Newswire, October 28, 2000
  7. Criticism of online disk tests.
  8. Press release about the release of the new album ( Memento of the original from October 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Live DVD from the concert in Prague
  10. Live In Praha DVD . Sound spy
  11. Radiohead: New album is "definitely" coming .
  12. Radiohead: New album online on Saturday .
  13. Radiohead Releases Hacked “OK Computer” Demos - ByteFM. In: ByteFM Blog - News and reviews from our editorial team. June 11, 2019, accessed on June 13, 2019 (German).
  14. Radiohead: Creative solution to blackmail attempt . In: Spiegel Online . June 11, 2019 ( [accessed June 13, 2019]).
  16. Radiohead biography on; last checked on November 20, 2008
  17. Review; last checked on November 20, 2008
  18. PULS Hall of Fame: Radiohead - OK Computer on; last checked on June 5, 2013
  19. Review.; last checked on November 20, 2008
  20. Review.; last checked on November 20, 2008
  21. Review.; last checked on November 20, 2008
  22. 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 2, 2010, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  23. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone , August 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .