Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass), and Phil Selway (drums, percussion, backing vocals). They have worked with producer Nigel Godrich and cover artist Stanley Donwood since 1994.
After signing to EMI in 1991, Radiohead released their debut single "Creep" in 1992. It became a worldwide hit after the release of their debut album, Pablo Honey (1993). Their popularity and critical standing rose in the United Kingdom with the release of their second album, The Bends (1995). Radiohead's third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to international fame; noted for its complex production and themes of modern alienation, it is often acclaimed as a landmark record of the 1990s and one of the best albums in popular music. The group's next albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), recorded simultaneously, marked a dramatic change in style, incorporating influences from experimental electronic music, 20th-century classical music, krautrock, and jazz. Despite initially dividing listeners, Kid A was later named the best album of the decade by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the Times.
Radiohead's sixth album, Hail to the Thief (2003), mixed rock and electronic music with lyrics inspired by the War on Terror, and was the band's final album for EMI. Their subsequent releases have pioneered alternative release platforms such as pay-what-you-wantand BitTorrent. Radiohead self-released their seventh album, In Rainbows (2007), as a download for which customers could set their own price, to critical and chart success. Their eighth album, The King of Limbs (2011), an exploration of rhythm, was developed using extensive looping and sampling. Their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool (2016), prominently featured Jonny Greenwood's orchestral arrangements.
Radiohead had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide by 2011. Their work places highly in both listener polls and critics' lists of the best music of the 1990s and 2000s. In 2005, they were ranked 73rd in Rolling Stone's list of "The Greatest Artists of All Time"; Jonny Greenwood (48th) and O'Brien (59th) were both included in Rolling Stone's list of greatest guitarists, and Yorke (66th) in their list of greatest singers. In 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the second-best artist of the 2000s.
1985?1992: Formation and first years
The members of Radiohead met while attending Abingdon School, an independent school for boys in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Guitarist and singer Thom Yorke and bassist Colin Greenwood were in the same year, guitarist Ed O'Brien and drummer Phil Selway the year above, and multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood, brother of Colin, two years below. In 1985, they formed On a Friday, the name referring to the band's usual rehearsal day in the school's music room. Jonny was the last to join, first on harmonica and then keyboards, but soon became the lead guitarist; he had previously been in another band, Illiterate Hands, with musician Nigel Powell and Yorke's brother Andy Yorke. According to Colin, the band members picked their respective instruments because they wanted to play music together, rather than through an interest in the particular instrument: "It was more of a collective angle, and if you could contribute by having someone else play your instrument, then that was really cool." At one point, On a Friday featured a saxophone section.
The band disliked the school's strict atmosphere?the headmaster once charged the band for using a rehearsal room on a Sunday?and found solace in the school's music department. They credited their music teacher for introducing them to jazz, film scores, postwar avant-garde music, and 20th-century classical music. Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley had an active independent music scene in the late 1980s, but it centred on shoegazing bands such as Ride and Slowdive.