Thom Yorke, born in 1968 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, has been the driving force behind Radiohead since its formation in the late 1980s. An accomplished guitarist, pianist and singer, he wrote his first song aged 11, a meditation on nuclear war called Mushroom Cloud, setting the deeply paranoid, uneasy tone of much of his later work.
As the leader of Radiohead, Thom has worked with fellow musicians and lifelong friends Jonny Greenwood, Philip Selway, Colin Greenwood and Ed O'Brien to record albums that have managed to achieve the ultimate aim of commercial success plus artistic integrity. With Kid A Radiohead took a major commercial risk which ultimately paid off, and Thom Yorke's natural unease with the band resting on their laurels seems to have paid dividends.
In 2006, while Radiohead were working on In Rainbows, Thom Yorke snuck out a surprise solo record called The Eraser. Announcing it on the band's blog, Dead Air Space. Yorke stressed that it was not the end of Radiohead, but a helpful way of working through songs that simply would not have worked in the full band context. The Eraser garnered critical acclaim in its own right, and was hugely influential on fellow musician Kanye West, working on his own radically different 808s and Heartbreaks record. While shorter than any Radiohead album, the Eraser was clearly a fully formed work, and allowed the singer to explore new territory.
Since then, Thom has released another single, entitled Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses which was available as a vinyl-only purchase. Following that, Thom formed Atoms for Peace, a live touring band and 'supergroup' consisting of Yorke, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joey Waronker of R.E.M. , Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and percussionist Mauro Refosco. The band played a number of shows, showcasing the Eraser in full and working on their own new tracks.
Thom has collaborated with plenty of influential and up-and-coming artists over the years, including guest spots with Bjork, Burial, Modeselektor, UNKLE and Four Tet . In spite of the success of his main band, Radiohead, Thom seems to consistently have his finger on the pulse when it comes to new artists and has been a champion of new music. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation, and with new Radiohead music on the way, shows no signs of stopping.
- Previous article
- Reading list
- Next article
- 1 on 3