“It was difficult to work after what happened”: Thom Yorke opens up about death of ex-partner in emotive new interview

The Radiohead frontman spoke to the New York Times about the loss

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has opened up about the death of his ex-partner in an emotive new interview.

Speaking to the New York TimesYorke revealed the difficulties he faced in the aftermath of losing his former partner, Rachel Owen, who died from cancer in 2016 aged 48. Prior to separating in 2015, the pair had two children together and were partners for 23 years.

Yorke said whilst it was difficult to focus in the immediate aftermath, making music with the support of his Radiohead bandmates helped him to avoid “paralysis” from grief.

Yorke explained: “It was difficult to work after what happened. God bless Nigel and the others for gently pushing me to keep working. If I’d stopped and lost my relationship to anything musical, I really would have lost my [expletive], because I’ve always had that cathartic thing with music.

“Even though in moments of high stress it’s very difficult to connect with music in that cathartic way, what I found was that you do connect. You end up being surprised by music. It catches you unawares. It’s true that you can go through traumatic emotions, and your emotions can become dulled. Your way that you relate to the world becomes difficult.

“You go into a sort of paralysis. But because I kept working, because I kept listening to music, I never felt that paralysis.”

Thom Yorke
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood

Recently, Yorke also spoke about the grief he and his family faced during an emotional Desert Island Discs interview with Lauren Laverne.

When asked about being a father on his own, Yorke told Laverne: “I can’t hope to be their mum but we’re alright. I’m just really proud of them both. It stuns me most days. I can’t believe they’re anything to do with me. They’re just such great people.”

He continued: “When the kids’ mum died, it was a very difficult period and we went through a lot. It was very hard. She suffered a great deal and my ambition is to make sure that we have come out of it all right, and I hope that’s what’s happening.

“I’m lucky now because I have a new partner who has come and brought a light into all of it, which has taken a great deal of strength. And really if all that’s okay…If I’m able to make some music that expresses all that and is still important to people, that’s more than I can ask for.”

Yorke recently announced details of a UK and European tour in 2020. Tickets to UK shows are on sale now, and you can get them here.

JUNE 2020
Friday 19 – SEC (Scottish Events Centre) Hall 3, Glasgow
Saturday 20 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester (SOLD OUT)
Sunday 21 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester (NEW DATE)
Tuesday 23 – Eventim Apollo, London
Wednesday 24 – Eventim Apollo, London

JULY 2020
Wednesday 1 – Open’er Festival, Gdynia, Poland
Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 – Roskilde Festival, Denmark
Monday 6 – AFAS Live, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thursday 9 – Ippodromo del Galoppo di San Siro, Milan, Italy
Saturday 11 – Pohoda Festival, Slovakia
Sunday 12 – Karlin Hall, Czech Republic
Monday 13 – Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany