The Edge

BIOGRAPHY – Thom Yorke

Thomas Edward Yorke was born in Wellingborough Northamptonshire in 1968.

He was born with a paralysed left eye and had eye operations at an early age, which left his left eyelid permanently drooped. Because of this, he was a target for early school bullying, made worse because he attended a number of different schools as his family moved about. However, they settled in Oxford when Thom Yorke was 10 years old.

He had starting learning the guitar when he was seven years old after seeing Brian May on TV, and he started writing songs when he was 11 years old.

Thom Yorke attended Abingdon public school in Oxfordshire where he met future Radiohead band mates Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway and Colin and Jonny Greenwood. They formed a band called On a Friday so called because it was the only day they were allowed to practice.

Thom Yorke attended Exeter University in1988. He carried on practicing with On a Friday during holiday time, but while in Exeter joined a band called the Headless Chickens and started dating his long-term partner Rachel Owen.

In 1991 – with most of the On a Friday band members having finished their studies, Thom Yorke and the band went back to Oxford. They signed to Parlaphone and changed their name to Radiohead.

Their first album “Pablo Honey” was released in 1993 and the single “Creep” an instant international hit.

Thom Yorke tried to look like a rock star by bleaching his hair and he started drinking heavily – sometimes being too drunk to perform. A friendship with Michael Stipes (REM asked them to play on their European tour in 1995) helped Thom Yorke learn how to handle his fame.

Radiohead have released seven albums in total – their third album “OK Computer” in 1997 was a landmark in music history. Since then Radiohead have released a further four albums, the most recent “In Rainbows” in 2007 and available as a DRM free download.

Thom Yorke has also worked on his solo recording career although he rarely plays solo and has never toured. He released the album “The Eraser” in 2006.

Thom Yorke has collaborated with other artists such as Bjork and PJ Harvey and started a new side project super group band Atoms for Peace in 2010.  Band members include Chilli Pepper bassist Flea and REM session drummer Joey Waronker. They toured in the US throughout 2010 but have not yet recorded.

Thom Yorke does not read music and is interested in electronic music – using beats and samples from his laptop. His solo album “The Eraser” used piano, bass and guitar but was predominantly electronic. He plays rhythm guitar and is the principle singer and songwriter for Radiohead.

Thom Yorke has not had an easy relationship with celebrity and is famous for being cold and offhand to fellow artists. Kelly Jones of stereophonics called him a “miserable twat”and many artists have said more or less the same thing. However Thom Yorke has been active politically in human rights and aid issues, climate change and has performed for causes such as Friends of the earth, CND and other good causes. Thom Yorke lives in Oxford with Rachel Owen and the couple have two children.