50 incredibly geeky facts about Radiohead


The phrase ‘King Of Limbs’ relates to an ancient oak tree in Wiltshire’s Savernake Forest, near where Radiohead recorded part of ‘In Rainbows’. The phrase also appears in the 23rd chapter of the Qu’ran.


On Thom Yorke’s iPod? Well, according to his Office Charts playlists, recently he’s been listening to a lot of Holden, Can and Traxman. He likes his dubstep – he’s also into Brighter Dayz by Dj Rashad and long-time favourite Ennio Morricone.


Radiohead’s debut album ‘Pablo Honey’ was marketed by their US label at the Beavis & Butt-head “slacker” generation. A print ad at the time read: “Radiohead – better than Butt-head! Oxford England’s rowdiest new band. Huh-huh-huh, music that doesn’t suck. Featuring the self-loathing anthem ‘Creep’.” Oh dear…



Thom Yorke’s dad was was an amateur boxer, and encouraged his son to take up the hobby – without much success.


The noise at the beginning of ‘The Bends” title track is that of a group of kids parading outside an American hotel the band were staying in, which Thom ran out and taped.


Back in 1992, one NME live reviewer described Radiohead as “a lily-livered excuse for a rock band”. Oops. We came round though, giving 1997’s ‘OK Computer’ 10 out of 10.


A growing number of Radiohead fans believe that ‘OK Computer’ and ‘In Rainbows’ are both part of an over-arching masterplan. Apparently if you listen to them in sequence – one song from one, then one song from the other – they blend into each other. Head to Puddlegum for the full theory: it’s not as mad as it sounds.



Almost twenty years since it was released, ‘Creep’ is still making waves. Prince covered it at Coachella 2008 – then pulled all footage of it from YouTube. In July 2010, the trailer to The Social Network included a cover of ‘Creep’ by Belgian choir group Scala & Kolacny Brothers.


According to Thom Yorke, he and Colin Greenwood only ended up in a band together because of their terrible dress sense: “We always ended up at the same parties. He’d be wearing a beret and a catsuit, or something pretty fucking weird and I’d be in a frilly blouse and
crushed velvet dinner suit and we’d pass round the Joy Division records.”


These days ‘Kid A’ is regarded as a boundary-breaking masterwork, but back in 2000 it had some pretty snitty reviews. Mark Beaumont in Melody Maker gave it 1.5 out of 5, calling it “tubby, ostentatious, self-congratulatory, look-ma-I-can-suck-my-own-cock whiny old rubbish.”


If he hadn’t had his heart broken, Phil Selway never would have been in Radiohead. He quit the band in the early ’90s and moved to Ireland. It was only when his relationship ended that he moved back to Oxford and rejoined the band.



Remember early 90s prank phonecall kings The Jerky Boys? The album title ‘Pablo Honey’ was inspired by one of their skits in which the prank caller says, “Pablo, honey? Please come to Florida!” to his victim. This snippet is sampled by the band on the track ‘How Do You?’.


Members of Radiohead have played homage to their increasingly expanding offspring by dedicating various songs/albums to them. ‘Hail To The Thief’ is dedicated to Jonny’s firstborn son Tamir born in 2002; ‘Amnesiac’ is dedicated to Thom’s son Noah born in 2001; while Thom’s daughter, Agnes, born in 2004, had Yorke’s solo effort ‘The Eraser’ dedicated to her.


Thom Yorke’s sulky demeanor and refusal to get matey with fellow celebs has caused a few hissy fits in the past. Kelly Jones harumphed that he was a “miserable twat”. Jack Black, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West have also had public grumbles about their treatment by the infamously taciturn singer.


Thom Yorke defended his gloomy reputation in 1996 thus: “It’s just that I’m surrounded by a world of grinning idiots and I don’t think I want to be another one.”


A mysterious number, 1426148550, appeared on the cover of the ‘Airbag/How Am I Driving’ EP. Fans quickly discovered it to be a pager number which, if dialled, revealed the voice of Thom saying “Hello”. Fans left messages which the band supposedly kept for possible inclusion in a future recording.


In the mid-’90s Jonny started wearing a wrist brace to support a poorly strumming hand; he then decided it looked rather dapper even after his wrist was better and kept it on as a kind of trademark look.


The ‘Hail To The Thief’ album sleeve was designed by long-time Radiohead designer Stanley Downwood and ‘Dr Tchock’ (aka Thom Yorke). It’s supposed to represent Los Angeles, where much of the album was recorded. Other “maps” in the album artwork refer to the street plans of London, Grozny, and Baghdad.


Thom Yorke suffered a traumatic Christmas in 1996. His garden pond froze, killing his collection of exotic fish.


Thom Yorke recorded the vocals to ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ in late 1994 just after seeing Jeff Buckley play the Garage in London. Apparently, an inspired Yorke rushed back to the studio, did two takes then broke down in tears.


Thom Yorke was inspired to become veggie by The Smiths’ ‘Meat Is Murder’ – as well as more personal reasons: “I started going out with this girl,” he explains, “and I wanted to impress her so I pretended to be a vegetarian.” Sadly Chris Martin trounced Thom Yorke to win the coveted ‘World’s Sexiest Vegetarian’ crown in 2005.


Jonny Greenwood is the only band member to be a classically trained musician, having taken formal viola lessons as a child. In addition to
viola and guitar, the multi-instrumentalist plays organ, piano, xylophone, glockenspiel, ondes martenot (similar to a theremin), banjo and harmonica.


‘The King Of Limbs’ is not the only thing members of Radiohead have been working on. Jonny Greenwood has been announced as the composer for a new film starring Tilda Swinton. The guitarist will score We Need to Talk About Kevin, the third feature by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay.