Radiohead are undoubtedly one of the most influential bands of the last twenty years, straddling genres to create a sound that is all their own. With the release of their latest album 'The King of Limbs', it's worth looking back on the career of this remarkable feat.
Perhaps the reason Radiohead have lived on while many of their peers imploded is that the band have been firm friends from the start, seemingly at ease in each other's company. The band, which consists of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Philip Selway, Ed O'Brien and Jonny's younger brother Colin Greenwood, met at Abingdon school in Oxford in their teen years. In 1985 the friends formed On A Friday, playing their first gig in 1986 at the Jericho Tavern in Oxford. After a brief hiatus to attend university, the band reconvened to record demos and play tireless live shows, soon catching the attention of record execs.
In late 1991, the band signed a deal with EMI. Changing their name to Radiohead, they set to work on recording their debut album, Pablo Honey. Released in 1993, it spawned the mega-hit Creep. 1995's The Bends saw the band adopt a more acoustic approach than on their debut. Classic tracks like Street Spirit and the beautiful Fake Plastic Trees remain live favourites. Following The Bends, the band decided once again not to play it safe. OK Computer, released in 1997, is considered one of the best records of the decade, fearlessly pushing rock to its limit and spawning the unforgettable No Surprises, Karma Police and Paranoid Android singles. With Kid A, Radiohead again wanted a new direction. Eschewing rock guitars in favour of electronic and jazz influences, the band produced a work of staggering diversity, recently named NME's album of the 2000s. Its sister record, Amnesiac was recorded in the same sessions. Hail to the Thief, their last album with EMI, followed in 2003 and combined the live urgency of earlier records with the experimentalism of Kid A and Amnesiac. In Rainbows, released in 2007, garnered huge critical approval for its more straightforward guitar sound, and, after a free stand alone single called These Are My Twisted Words, the band began work on the new Radiohead album, the King of Limbs.
Radiohead have continued to make challenging music, never resting on their success. At the same time, they have maintained a huge worldwide audience and artistic credibility. As their website Dead Air Space and the recent Universal Sigh newspaper demonstrate, the band has an intimate connection with its fans in spite of its size and continues to push musical boundaries even into their third decade.