Radiohead: a brief history

A look at the career of the makers of 'In Rainbows'

Radiohead released their new album, ‘In Rainbows’, this morning (October 10), with fans choosing how much to pay to download the album.

Here’s a brief look at the band’s career up until the release of the new record.

In 1986, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O’Brien formed a band called On A Friday after meeting at Oxfordshire’s Abingdon School. They played their first gig in Oxford’s Jericho Tavern.


In 1991, the band signed to EMI Records and changed their name to Radiohead.

In 1992, the band released their debut EP, ‘Drill’, then their debut album, ‘Pablo Honey’, the following year, which featured their trademark song ‘Creep’. The album fared badly in the charts, peaking at Number 32. ‘Creep’ became a hit, however, especially in America where it was adopted as a college rock anthem.

Following the release of the ‘My Iron Lung’ EP in 1994, in May 1995 the band released their second album, ‘The Bends’. The album raised their profile greatly, as did a support tour slot that year with R.E.M. ‘The Bends’ featured ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, which became their biggest hit up until that point, peaking at Number Five in the UK charts.

In May 1997, Radiohead released what many consider to be their masterpiece, ‘OK Computer’. Featuring ‘Paranoid Android’, one of their most popular songs, the album made Radiohead internationally huge. The album was experimental while also melodic, and garnered mass critical acclaim.

The band embarked on a worldwide tour in support of the album, which resulted in the ‘Meeting People Is Easy’ tour documentary.

Fatigued by the rigours of touring the world, the band took a break after the ‘OK Computer’ album cycle, as the pressures on the band had nearly caused them to split up.


In 1999, the band began recording songs that would make up their following two albums: 2000’s ‘Kid A’ and 2001’s ‘Amnesiac’, with producer Nigel Godrich.

The new songs were a musical departure for the band, showcasing an experimental, electronic approach to songs that some fans found obtuse and difficult.

In summer 2001, the band organised their own festival at Oxford’s South Park, inviting Sigur Ros and Supergrass to play support slots before their headlining performance.

In summer 2002, the band played gigs in Portugal and Spain, showcasing songs that would appear on their next album, ‘Hail To The Thief’, subsequently released in June 2003. ‘Hail To The Thief’ was less experimental then ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’, but still a much more complex proposition than their early, guitar-driven material.

After a 2003 world tour, which included a headline appearance at the Glastonbury festival, the band went on a temporary hiatus with the individual members concentrating on their families.

In 2006, the band returned to the live circuit, playing songs that would appear on ‘In Rainbows’. Made up from recording sessions over the previous three years, ‘In Rainbows’ was completed in June 2007 and was released today via download.

‘In Rainbows’ has been released online with fans deciding how much to pay for the record. Radiohead are currently without a record deal, but are expected to sign a new deal soon and release ‘In Rainbows’ physically next year.

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