Thom Yorke opens up about the loss of his ex-partner, climate change, and Radiohead’s success
On today’s episode of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs Thom Yorke, the enigmatic leader of Radiohead, will talk on the show about the difficulties he faced following the loss of his ex-partner Rachel Owen in 2016, as well as the struggle Yorke had with Radiohead’s success.
Rachel Owen died aged 48 in 2016 from cancer, and Yorke told Desert Island Discs that his only ambition is to “make sure that we have come out of it alright”. The couple split in 2015 but had been together for 23 years and share two children.
He pridefully shared his feeling son his children: “I can’t hope to be their mum but we’re alright. I’m just really proud of them both. It stuns me most days. I can’t believe they’re anything to do with me. They’re just such great people.”
He said: “When the kids’ mum died, it was a very difficult period and we went through a lot. It was very hard. She suffered a great deal and my ambition is to make sure that we have come out of it alright, and I hope that’s what’s happening.”
Yorke told the BBC Radio 4 show: “I’m lucky now because I have a new partner who has come and brought a light into all of it, which has taken a great deal of strength.
“And really if all that’s OK… If I’m able to make some music that expresses all that and is still important to people, that’s more than I can ask for.”
Yorke also used the show to offer up his feelings on climate change. Yorke said he was a “hypocrite” when it came to the environment, flying as much as he does for his job, but still campaigning for change.
“The thing I’ve always struggled somewhat with, is if I’m campaigning on climate change, I’m someone who has to fly for my work so…. I totally agree I’m a hypocrite but… what do you want to do about it?”
He continued: “You can do stuff but the real stuff has to happen in Parliament and the UN, and has to happen now, we’re out of time.”
Yorke also found time to speak about the struggle he faced when Radiohead started to gain popular acclaim as well as critical. He offered some extremely candid views “I got angry,” he said. “I’m an extremely angry person.
“I put my hands on the steering wheel and I white-knuckled, and I didn’t care who I hurt or what I said. Years later I sat down with the guys and apologised.”
The full episode will air on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15 am BST