When Radiohead launched their first American tour in the summer of 1993, they weren’t exactly greeted like the Beatles at JFK Airport. At the time, many dismissed them as whiny, grunge-y carpetbaggers. Many people walked out of their CBGB gig after they played “Creep,” and in Toronto they opened for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. But “Creep” was starting to get some radio play, and after just nine gigs they found themselves playing at MTV’s Beach House.
It was July 4th, 1993, and the Number One single in the country was Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Tag Team were right behind with “Whoomp! (There It is).” Radiohead’s “Creep” was at number 67, up from 76 the previous week and 92 the week before that. The rise was largely due to MTV’s decision to put the “Creep” video in their “Buzz Bin”; declining the network’s invitation to play the song at their beach house would have been insane. Thom Yorke was even willing to perform the censored radio version, singing “you’re so very special” as opposed to “you’re so fucking special.” The bleached blonde hair, ponytail, pasty skin and sunglasses made Yorke look like an extra from Interview With the Vampire, which would start filming in a few months. It was a look he quickly dropped.
After “Creep,” Radiohead played “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” and then Yorke jumped into the pool and almost electrocuted himself, foolishly holding onto the live microphone. Ten days later they performed “Creep” on The Arsenio Hall Show. Despite the band’s best efforts, “Anyone Can Play Guitar” failed to chart in America, and they started to look like a one-hit wonder. They came back to America a few months later to open for Belly, but everyone just wanted to hear “Creep” and it started to drive Yorke insane. Radiohead’s 1994 track “My Iron Lung” is about the misery of playing the same song over and over, even if it’s the very thing that gave you life to begin with.