Jonny Greenwood Recalls The Time He Tricked Thom Yorke

During a recent interview with NPR, Radiohead lead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood looked back on when he first joined the band. Apparently, the musician was able to become a member after convincing the rest of the band and Thom Yorke that he was good at playing the keyboards, whereas the instrument was turned off.

Jonny Greenwood attended Abingdon School with his elder brother, who happened to be Radiohead‘s bassist, Collin. That’s where Greenwood met his future bandmates, and his story with Radiohead pretty much started. He joined the band last as the youngest and started playing keyboards and harmonica but soon became the lead guitarist. Just three weeks before his graduation from Oxford Polytechnic with a degree in music and psychology, Radiohead, then called On a Friday, signed a recording contract with EMI in 1991.

As a result, Greenwood dropped out of university, and the band changed its name to Radiohead. The band found early success with their legendary 1992 single named ‘Creep,‘ which was particularly praised by Greenwood’s aggressive guitar work. The rest is history since shortly afterward, Radiohead became one of the greatest bands of all time, according to numerous music critics.

During a recent interview, Jonny Greenwood reflected on the first time he joined Radiohead. Apparently, the band had an incredibly loud keyboard player. When Greenwood had to chance to play with the band, the first thing he did was to turn his keyboard off so that the band felt refreshed with their new player. For months, Greenwood pretended he was playing the keyboard during rehearsals.

Believe it or not, the rest of the band and Thom Yorke were convinced that Greenwood was doing something right with his playing style while he wasn’t playing at all. Over the next few months, Greenwood taught himself how to play the keyboard and gradually turned the volume up so that the rest of the band wouldn’t notice the difference. After a successful period making Radiohead believe he was a good keyboard player, Jonny Greenwood also became their lead guitarist.

Greenwood’s statement about the band follows:

“Thom’s band had a keyboard player. I think they didn’t get on with it because he played his keyboard so loud. And so when I got the chance to play with them, the first thing I did was make sure my keyboard was turned off… I must have done months of rehearsals with them with this keyboard, and they didn’t know that I’d already turned it off.

They made quite a racket, quite a noise. It was all guitars and distortion, and so I would pretend to play for weeks on end, and Thom would say, ‘I can’t quite hear what you’re doing, but I think you’re adding a really interesting texture because I can tell when you’re not playing.’ And I’m thinking, ‘No, you can’t because I’m really not playing.’ And I’d go home in the evening and work out how to actually play chords, and cautiously over the next few months, I would start turning this keyboard up. And that’s how I started in with Radiohead.”

You can listen to ‘Creep’ below.