Thom Yorke turns 49 today. He was attending Abingdon School in Oxfordshire, England, when he and four schoolmates, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway, and Colin and Jonny Greenwood, formed a band they called On a Friday. After a hiatus or two in the late 1980s, the band signed a recording contract in 1991 and took a new name—Radiohead. Yorke is their lead vocalist—rated as one of the 100 greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone—and plays guitar and keyboards.
Radiohead has become one of the most important voices in alternative rock. They released their first studio album, Pablo Honey, in 1993, and gradually built an audience. Between 1997 and 2007 they had five consecutive albums reach #1 in the UK, and they’ve had two #1 albums in the US. They have received over twenty Grammy nominations, with four wins, mostly in Alternative music categories.
John Mellencamp turns 65 today. During his career, the heartland rocker has also been billed as John or Johnny Cougar and as John Cougar Mellencamp. When he began recording and performing in the 1970s he was seen as a Springsteen clone, but over time he developed his own sound and voice. While Springsteen spoke for and to the urban working class, over time Mellencamp became more a voice for American farmers:
Probably one of the most famous songs to barely make it into Billboard’s Top40 singles chart, Radiohead’s mopey generation X anthem “Creep” whined and wailed itself into just the #34 spot in 1993. At the time of its ascendence, the song seemed exactly like the kind of attention-grabbing recording that was designed to make a splash and then leave the band stranded in a particular place and time as a 1-hit wonder. Then something a little unexpected happened. Radiohead became one of the most adored and lauded bands of its generation. But could a group showered with praise and given the “genius” label manage to escape the 1-hit wonder stigma? For a while that was a real question…but you’ve noticed the title of the article, right?
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