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Radiohead was one of the few alternative bands of the early '90s to draw heavily from the grandiose arena rock that characterized U2's early albums. But the band internalized that epic sweep, turning it inside out to tell tortured, twisted tales of angst and alienation. Vocalist Thom Yorke's pained lyrics were brought to life by the group's three-guitar attack, which relied on texture — borrowing as much from My Bloody Valentine and Pink Floyd as R.E.M. and Pixies — instead of virtuosity. It took Radiohead awhile to formulate their signature sound. Their 1993 debut, Pablo Honey, only suggested their potential, and one of its songs, "Creep," became an unexpected international hit, its angst-ridden lyrics making it an alternative rock anthem. Many observers pigeonholed Radiohead as a one-hit wonder, but the group's second album, The Bends, was released to terrific reviews in the band's native Britain in early 1995, helping build a more stable fan base. Having demonstrated unexpected staying power, as well as increasing ambition, Radiohead next released OK Computer, a progressive, electronic-tinged masterpiece that became one of the most acclaimed albums of the '90s.

Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar), Ed O'Brien (guitar, vocals), Jonny Greenwood (guitar), Colin Greenwood (bass), and Phil Selway (drums) formed Radiohead as students at Oxford University in 1988. Initially called On a Friday, the band began pursuing a musical career in earnest in the early '90s, releasing the Drill EP in 1992. Shortly afterward, the group signed to EMI/Capitol and released the single "Creep," a fusion of R.E.M. and Nirvana highlighted by a noisy burst of feedback prior to the chorus. "Creep" was a moderate hit, and their next two singles, "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and "Pop Is Dead," built a small following, even as the British music press ignored the group.

Pablo Honey, Radiohead's debut album, was released to mixed reviews in the spring of 1993. As the band launched a European supporting tour, "Creep" became a sudden smash hit in America, earning heavy airplay on modern rock radio and MTV. On the back of the single's success, Radiohead toured the U.S. extensively, opening for Belly and Tears for Fears. All the exposure helped Pablo Honey go gold, and "Creep" was re-released in the U.K. at the end of 1993. This time, the single became a Top Ten hit, and the band spent the following summer touring the world.

Although "Creep" made Radiohead a success, it also led many observers to peg the band as a one-hit wonder. Conscious of such thinking, the group entered the studio with producer John Leckie to record their second album, The Bends. Upon its spring 1995 release, The Bends was greeted with overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews, all of which praised the group's deeper, more mature sound. However, positive reviews didn't sell albums, as Radiohead struggled to be heard during the U.K.'s summer of Britpop and as American radio programmers and MTV ignored the record. The band continued to tour as the opening act on R.E.M.'s prestigious Monster tour. By the end of the year, The Bends began to catch on, thanks not only to the band's constant touring but also to the stark, startling video for "Just." The album made many year-end best-of lists in the U.K., and early in 1996 the record re-entered the British Top Ten and climbed to gold status in the U.S., helped in the latter by the video for "Fake Plastic Trees."

During the first half of 1996, Radiohead continued to tour before re-entering the studio that fall to record their third album, OK Computer, which was released in the summer of 1997. A devoted following of fans and a handful of enthusiastic critical supporters immediately embraced the album's majestic blend of unfettered prog rock, post-punk angst, eerie electronic textures, and assured songwriting. Since it skillfully teetered between rock classicism and futurism, it earned near-unanimous critical and popular support over the course of the year, which turned into unrestrained adoration in the final two years of the decade, even though its sales still hadn't climbed above gold status.

Expectations for Radiohead's fourth album were stratospheric, which placed additional pressure on the already perfectionist band, and led to several stumbling blocks along the way. An intense buzz of excitement among the band's still-growing following greeted the prerelease appearance of most of the album's tracks on the Internet in MP3 form; they displayed an all-out fascination with challenging, often minimalist electronica. Titled Kid A, the album was finally released in October 2000 and astonished many observers by debuting at number one on the U.S. album charts. While the band didn't release any singles or embark on a formal tour, the album met with a mixed critical response as the group was accused of creating a distant and radio-unfriendly record; however, it did remain a fan favorite.

In June of 2001, Radiohead quickly released an album under the name Amnesiac that consisted of material that was recorded during the Kid A sessions. The band made it very clear, though, that it was not to be considered an outtakes album; rather, they insisted that the two albums were of clear and separate concept. Regardless, Amnesiac debuted at number one in the U.K. and number two on the U.S. chart (behind then-stronghold Staind), while outselling Kid A in week one by 25,000 copies. The singles Pyramid Song and Knives Out were culled from Amnesiac with a subsequent world tour. While planning "I Might Be Wrong" for a third single, the idea expanded into a live "mini-album," titled after the track, that was released in November of 2001. Hail to the Thief, the proper follow-up to Amnesiac, was relatively direct in structure and peaked at number three on the U.S. chart. Sporadic recording sessions resumed in early 2005, but a projected release date for the band's seventh studio album remained 2007 as Yorke prepared a solo album, The Eraser, which was issued in July 2006.

On October 1, 2007, the band announced that they had finished their seventh album, In Rainbows, and that it would be "out" in a matter of ten days. Giving fans the option to pay whatever they'd like for the album as a zip file of MP3s, Radiohead also devised a pre-order system for the physical version of the album — a "discbox" containing a double-vinyl version, a CD copy with an enhanced six-track bonus disc, a lyric book, and photos — which they planned on shipping by early December. This was done without the involvement of a record label.

» Colin Greenwood
» Jonny Greenwood
» Ed O'Brien
» Phil Selway
» Thom Yorke

In May 2009, the band began new recording sessions with producer Nigel Godrich. In August of that year, Radiohead released two singles from these sessions on their website. First, "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)", was recorded in tribute to Harry Patch, the last surviving British soldier to have fought in the First World War, who had recently died. The song was sold for £1, with proceeds donated to the British Legion. "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)" featured Thom Yorke singing lyrics based on Patch's own statements about his war experience, over a string orchestra backdrop arranged by Jonny Greenwood. Later that month, a new song "These Are My Twisted Words", was made available as a free download. Jonny Greenwood explained that the song had been one of the first products of the band's recent studio sessions.

In a mid-2009 NME interview, Yorke suggested that Radiohead would turn their focus from full length albums to releasing EPs, including the possibility of an EP of orchestral music. In December that year, O'Brien stated on Radiohead's website that the band would begin work on their next album in January, "The vibe in the camp is fantastic at present, and we head off into the studio in January to continue on from the work we started last summer...10 years ago we were all collectively (that's the band) in the land of Kid A... and although hugely proud of that record, it wasn't a fun place to be...What's reassuring now, is that we are most definitely a different band, which should therefore mean that the music is different too and that is the aim of the game." In an interview with BBC 6 Music in June 2010, Ed O'Brien made similar comments, that Radiohead were "in the heart of [recording] now". O'Brien also said the band hoped to be able to release the record by the end of the year. In September 2010, Colin Greenwood mentioned that they had just finished a new set of songs and "have begun to wonder about how to release them in a digital landscape that has changed again". Phil Selway added later that month that the band will "take stock" of the new material and said that it is all "up in the air".

In January 2010, while Radiohead members were in Los Angeles to record, the band played their only gig of the year as a benefit for Oxfam. Tickets were auctioned to the highest bidders, allowing the show at L.A.'s Henry Fonda Theater to raise over half a million US dollars for the NGO's work in Haiti, which earlier that month had been hit by a devastating earthquake. A group of fans edited together digital video taken by attendees to make a multi-camera document of the concert, which they made available through YouTube and torrents in December 2010, with the band's support and a "pay what you want" link to donate to Oxfam. In 2010, another collective of fans made a not-for-profit video of Radiohead's 2009 Prague concert and distributed it freely online, with soundboard audio provided by the band. Live in Praha and Radiohead for Haiti were reviewed by mainstream media and were described as examples of the band's openness to fans and their positivity toward non-commercial forms of Internet distribution. Radiohead's eighth album, The King of Limbs was digitally released in February 2011. It was also released in standard CD, vinyl and download formats in March, or as a unique "newspaper album" released in May, which features numerous extras.

On 16 April 2011, Radiohead released a single, "Supercollider / The Butcher", for Record Store Day.

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