Radiohead. A multi-award winning experimental rock group from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK. They’re not for everyone, I will admit, but if you’ve always thought about getting into them, then think of the band as a psychedelic, even more, experimental version of Muse. But, we’re not here today to talk about Radiohead. No, the purpose of this article is to share with you all, the wonderful and mystifying story of their lead singer: Thom Yorke. You might think this is a strange article to write but, I greatly respect the man’s talent and work and have always found the segments of his life I’ve been told about, very interesting.
Thom was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, in 1968. He’d picked up the guitar by 7 and started a band by 10, and if you know anything about Thom Yorke, then you’ll know he’s got something up with his left eye. Well, before we continue, I’ll explain. He was born with it paralysed. He then underwent five eye operations by the age of six, the final one of which left him with a drooped eye-lid.
So, there’s that elephant removed from the metaphorical room…
So he went to school like every other poor sod; moved to Scotland and back; failed to pull girls like the rest of us, and eventually settled in Oxfordshire where he met the group of lads that would become Radiohead. After signing with Parlophone, at the age of 22, they made them change their original name from ‘On A Friday’, to something else. The inspiration of which came from The Talking Heads’ song ‘Radio Head’ from their 1986 album True Stories.
Shortly after their first success of ‘Creep’ and the album Pablo Honey (1993), he pressed the self-destruct button. He drank far too much, cut his hair and wore wigs, enjoyed an inflated ego, and all the other rock n’ roll stereotypical activities. He was praised for his vocal range which has always been impressive; both emotive and haunting, it is an eery but pleasing combination. After his antics during the 90’s, Radiohead took off and the rest, they say, is history.
Mr Yorke, then, has some interesting nuggets of information that make him every bit as human as the rest of us: he’s a vegetarian, inspired by The Smiths’ own, Morrissey; he has a fear of transportation due to a car accident in 1987; he refused to meet with Tony Blair about climate change, accusing him of having ‘no environmental credentials’; his father was a nuclear physicist; and finally, he used to work in a mental asylum which lead to the inspiration of some of his work.
The thing is with Yorke (and by extension Radiohead) when he speaks, people listen. When he writes it melts into our culture, like a musically inclined Damien Hirst. The bottom line is that he’s a nice guy with strong principles. Principles he lives by to this day with his human rights, environmentalist, fair trade and anti-war causes. It’s commendable, respectable and inspirational. He has said himself that he has no plan and just tries to make good of each situation and scenario as he goes along.
I’ve always admired this humble rock-star and enjoyed his collaborative work, Radiohead and Atoms For Peace (a supergroup he is part of, check them out) throughout the years. I look forward to more of his work and more of that contained crazy his infinite mind seems to ooze every now and then.
Know something we don’t? Maybe you’ve met the guy? Let us know @MugwumpBlog