The musicians who form Radiohead met while attending Abingdon School, a boys-only public school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.Thom Yorke and Colin Greenwood were in the same year, Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway were one year older and Jonny Greenwood two years younger than his brother, Colin. In 1985 they formed the band “On a Friday”, the name referring to the band’s usual rehearsal day in the school’s music room.The group played their first gig in late 1986 at Oxford’s Jericho Tavern; Jonny Greenwood originally joined as a harmonica and then keyboard player, but he soon became the lead guitarist.
Although Yorke, O’Brien, Selway, and Colin Greenwood had left Abingdon by 1987 to attend university, the band continued to rehearse often on weekends and holidays.In 1991, when all the members except Jonny had completed their university degrees, On a Friday regrouped, began to record demos such as Manic Hedgehog, and performed live gigs around Oxford. Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley had an active indie scene in the late 1980s, but it centred around shoegazing bands such as Ride and Slowdive; On a Friday were never seen as fitting this trend, commenting that they had missed it by the time they returned from university.
Nevertheless, as On a Friday’s number of live performances increased, record labels and producers became interested. Chris Hufford, Slowdive’s producer and the co-owner of Oxford’s Courtyard Studios, attended an early On a Friday concert at the Jericho Tavern. Impressed by the band, he and his partner Bryce Edge produced a demo tape and became On a Friday’s managers; they remain the band’s managers to this day. Following a chance meeting between Colin Greenwood and EMI representative Keith Wozencroft at the record shop where Greenwood worked, the band signed a six-album recording contract with the label in late 1991.At the request of EMI, the band changed their name to Radiohead, inspired by the title of a song on Talking Heads’ True Stories album.
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