When the news came out that Radiohead were entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, many fans thought they’d pull a Sex Pistols and simply not show up to the ceremony. “I don’t care,” guitarist Jonny Greenwood told Rolling Stone in 2017. “Maybe it’s a cultural thing that I really don’t understand.” Lead singer Thom Yorke felt the same way. “It wouldn’t be the first place,” he said, cutting himself off before finishing the sentence. “Don’t ask me things like that. I always put my foot in my mouth.”
Bassist Colin Greenwood was the only one that found the idea of getting in exciting: “I’d be grateful if we got in,” he said. “Look at the others that have been inducted. I don’t know if everyone else will go, though.”
But when the time actually came, none of the three showed up — not even Colin. (Thom Yorke said he had to be in Paris for a piano performance nine days after the ceremony.) But drummer Phil Selway and guitarist Ed O’Brien traveled to Brooklyn to accept their induction on behalf of the band. Here’s what they had to say after introductory remarks by David Byrne.
Phil Selway: Thank you! So, first off, I think I’d just like to set the record straight. In the film, Thom said: Phil was the only drummer. I think what he meant was: Phil was the only drummer. So thank you. This is a real honor. And it’s particularly special that David Byrne has inducted us. As David said, we borrowed a band name from him 30 years ago and luckily for us he hasn’t asked for it back yet. I’d just like to say a little bit about what being in Radiohead means to me. It can be awkward and challenging sometimes. But I guess that’s what kept us all interested for the past three decades. I’m beyond proud of what the five of us have achieved together, and I know that Radiohead wouldn’t have become what it is without the five of us.
I can easily place myself back in my first rehearsal with the band at the school we all went to, and that band is still very recognizable to me, whenever we play. We’ve learned all our musical chops together. Each new song has been like a lesson and our albums act as a chart of that learning process. We may not be the greatest musicians around and we’re certainly not the most media-friendly of bands. But we have become very adept at being Radiohead. And when that connects with people, it feels amazing. I’d never take any of this for granted, so thank you, thank you, so much.
Ed O’Brien: I just want to say this is such a beautifully surreal evening for us and it’s very far from where we come from. But thank you for inviting us, inducting us into this Hall of Fame. It is a big fucking deal. I wish the others could be here because they would be feeling it. So thank you. Obviously a band like ourselves have a lot of thank-yous to make and I don’t want to spend the next 10 minutes name-checking everybody — although I’d love to — but you’d be bored. I want to thank our families, who encourage us to go on these musical adventures. Our kids, our wives, our partners. They let us go swan around the world doing our thing. I want to thank everybody who’s ever been touched by our music. For everyone who comes to the shows and participated — it’s not just us on stage, it’s everybody. We’ve had some amazing, glorious nights with you. I’d also like to thank everybody who’s worked with us. We’re a very blessed band. We’ve worked with some incredibly talented, inspiring people who not only do the best for music but the best for us as human beings, and that’s a really important part of Radiohead.
But my biggest thank you is for my brothers, Thom, Colin and Johnny. All musicians know and fans know: It’s an incredible journey. It’s truly extraordinary. We’re not doing run-of-the-mill stuff. It’s amazing. We’ve been doing it for 34 years and are still doing it. I want to thank them for their integrity, their authenticity, their commitment. None of these things you should take for granted. I also want to thank them for the musicians they are. That thing when we play together; that collective sound that we make. Some of the nights we have in the rehearsal studio where they’re like transcendental moments. I thank them for that. But most of all I want to thank them for this deep, deep friendship. We could’ve done this without this love for one another but there’s such a deep, deep bond and it’s a beautiful thing. So thank you. I love you.