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Radiohead Biography

Home > Music > R > Radiohead > Biography

Birth Place: Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England
Years Active: 1985–present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Electronic Music, Experimental Rock

Radiohead are an English alternative rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitars, piano), Jonny Greenwood (guitars, keyboards and other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitars, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass, synthesizers) and Phil Selway (drums, percussion).

Radiohead released their first single, "Creep,” in 1992. The song was initially unsuccessful, but it became a worldwide hit several months after the release of their debut album, 1993’s “Pablo Honey.”

Radiohead's popularity rose in the United Kingdom with the release of their second album, 1995’s “The Bends.” In the United States, the album eventually reached #88 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, while the single "High and Dry" reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. In the U.K., “The Bends” reached #4 and remains a bestseller.

Radiohead's third album, 1997’s “OK Computer,” propelled them to greater international fame. “OK Computer” reached #1 on the U.K. Albums chart and marked Radiohead's highest entry into the American market at the time, debuting at #21 on the Billboard 200. The album expanded the band's worldwide popularity, and has been certified triple platinum in the U.K. and Canada, double platinum in the U.S. and platinum in Australia. Radiohead chose "Paranoid Android" as the lead single from “OK Computer.” Despite a lack of radio play, the song charted at #3 in the U.K., giving Radiohead their highest singles chart position. The album debuted at #1 on the British album charts, where it stayed for two weeks. “OK Computer” stayed in the Top 10 for weeks, and became the country's eighth-best selling record of the year. Two additional singles, "Karma Police" and "No Surprises,” were released. Both charted in the U.K. singles Top 10 and "Karma Police" charted on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks peaking at #14.

2000’s “Kid A” and 2001’s “Amnesiac” marked an evolution in Radiohead's musical style, as the group incorporated experimental electronic music, Krautrock, post-punk and jazz influences. “Kid A,” featuring the song "The National Anthem," won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. It debuted at #1 in many countries, including the U.S., where its debut atop the Billboard 200 marked a first for the band.

“Amnesiac” debuted at the top of the U.K. charts and #2 on the Billboard 200. Like Radiohead's three previous releases, “Amnesiac” was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. “Pyramid Song" was “Amnesiac's” first single and the second single was "Knives Out,” which reached #13 in the U.K. and #1 in Canada.

2003’s “Hail to the Thief,” a mix of guitar-driven rock, electronics and lyrics inspired by war, was the band's final album for their major record label, EMI. “Hail to the Thief” enjoyed commercial success, debuting at #1 in the U.K. and #3 on the Billboard 200 and eventually being certified platinum in the U.K. and gold in the U.S.. The album's singles, "There There,” "Go to Sleep" and "2 + 2 = 5,” achieved a level of play on modern rock radio. At the 2003 Grammy Awards, Radiohead were again nominated for Best Alternative Album, while producer Nigel Godrich and engineer Darrell Thorp received the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album. The band's first six albums, released via EMI, had sold more than twenty-five million copies by 2007.

Radiohead independently released their seventh album, 2007’s “In Rainbows,” originally as a digital download for which customers could set their own price, and later in physical form to critical and chart success. Upon its retail release, “In Rainbows” entered the UK Album chart and the Billboard 200 at #1. The album was nominated for the short list of the Mercury Music Prize, and went on to win the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. Their production team won the Grammy for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, while Radiohead received their third nomination for Album of the Year. Along with three other nominations for the band, Godrich's production work and the "House of Cards" music video also received nominations. Radiohead released a number of singles from “In Rainbows” in support of the album, "Jigsaw Falling into Place,” the first, was released in the U.K. in January 2008. The second single, "Nude,” debuted at #37 in the Billboard Hot 100, Radiohead's first song to make that chart since 1995's "High and Dry" and their first Top 40 hit in the U.S. since "Creep."

2011’s “King of Limbs” was again self-released by the band and debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200. In the U.K. the album debuted at #7 on the U.K. Albums chart. The lead single, “Lotus Flower” was first played live during a tour with Thom Yorke's other band Atoms for Peace.