Thomas Edward Yorke, frontman of the massively popular band Radiohead, was born October 7, 1968 in Wellingborough, England. Thom was born with his left eye paralyzed shut, and underwent five operations before the age of six. An eye-patch eventually allowed him some use of the eye.
Young Thom was inspired by Elvis Costello, Queen, and the Beatles, and began singing and playing the guitar. After a move to Oxford, Thom attended Abingdon School, where he met future Radiohead members Ed O'Brien (guitar) and Colin Greenwood (bass). The additions of Phil Selway (drums) and Colin's younger brother Johnny Greenwood (guitars, synths) were the genesis of Radiohead, and adopted the name On a Friday.
Thom also studied english and art at Exeter University, where he played guitar in Exeter techno band Flickernoise, and worked as an orderly in a mental institution.
Thom's music career took off as On a Friday, which had previously played shows in Oxford and released the Manic Hedgehog Demo, changed its name to Radiohead (after a Talking Heads song) and released the Drill EP in March 1992.
Pablo Honey was released September 1992, and the surprise hit Creep (later disowned by the band and not played live for several years, it was played live again at 2001's South Park concert in the band's hometown) brought the band into the limelight. The Bends, released in 1995, destroyed the stigma of "one hit wonder" that had previously dogged the band. The album was immediately hailed as a masterpiece, and the best of the 90's at least, if not of all time. OK Computer followed in 1997 and was even more widely acclaimed, but Thom and the band were beginning to break under the stress of constant touring and media scrutiny.
Kid A, released in 2000, was an attempt to alienate the media and mainstream audience, moving Radiohead into experimental electronic territory. It was released with no videos or singles and only a handful of live performances, but massive Internet hype pushed the album to debut at the top of the U.S. charts. Amnesiac was released in 2001, exploring much of the same territory as Kid A. A tour, videos, singles followed.
Thom has also made appearances on a number of other artists work, including "El President," on Drugstore's album White Magic for Lovers, a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," with Sparklehorse, "Rabbit in Your Headlights" on U.N.K.L.E.'s Psyence Fiction, a duet with Björk in the song "I've Seen it All," from Selmasongs, and several songs on P.J. Harvey's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. Thom also provided vocals on Roxy Music covers for the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine as part of the band the Venus in Furs. Created for the soundtrack, the band also included Jonny Greenwood and Roxy Music saxaphonist Andy Mackaye.
Thom provides Radiohead's vocals as well as playing guitar and piano and writing nearly all Radiohead songs. Several themes show themselves throughout his work. Thom seems to have a fear of aging (Bones, My Iron Lung) and of cars (Airbag, Stupid Car, Killer Cars). Other songs deal with the superficiality of pop culture and society (Fake Plastic Trees, Motion Picture Soundtrack). Recent work shows an obsession with the concept of doors (Kid A, Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors), and an emerging political side to the band's music. While Radiohead has publicly embraced several political causes, including the Drop the Debt movement, songs like Electioneering, Idioteque, Dollars and Cents, and Life in a Glasshouse bring Thom's political ideology into their music.
Radiohead's 2003 release was entitled Hail to the Thief
, a jab at the United States' President Bush. Thom has also spoken at several anti-war rallies in the UK. Several tracks on the album contain political commentary, in varying degrees of Thom's signature lyrical obtuseness.
Thom Yorke Quotes:
"It's easy to be miserable. Being happy is tougher - and cooler."
(on OK Computer)
"There's been a lot of looking at headlines and feeling wildly impotent. A lot of the album's about that."
"The thing that worries me about the computer age is the fact that people know so much about you. It's an incredible invasion of privacy. And no matter where you are in the world people can monitor you if you're using your credit card. I heard this weird rumor on the Internet about how the military are funding this great big research project, and basically they believe that in the future, the balance of power won't be determined by who has the most nuclear weapons, but by who has all the information. I'm not afraid of being taken over by computers though, because the thing is, computers cannot resist. You can always smash 'em up, and they're totally defenseless. All we need are more people with hammers."
"They didn´t let us play at the Grammy awards cause they thought we wern´t good for the ratings. We were so happy, man..."