Colin Greenwood

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Colin Greenwood
Colin Greenwood, Bonnaroo, 17 June 2006
Colin Greenwood, Bonnaroo, 17 June 2006
Background information
Birth nameColin Charles Greenwood
Born (1969-06-26) 26 June 1969 (age 53)
Oxford, England
GenresAlternative rock, art rock, electronic, film score
Occupation(s)Musician, bassist, composer
Instrument(s)Bass guitar
Years active1985–present
Member ofRadiohead

Colin Charles Greenwood (born 26 June 1969) is an English musician and the bassist for the rock band Radiohead. Along with bass guitar, Greenwood plays upright bass and electronic instruments.

With his younger brother, the guitarist Jonny Greenwood, Greenwood attended Abingdon School in Abingdon, England, where he met the other band members. Radiohead have achieved critical acclaim and have sold more than 30 million albums. Greenwood was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Radiohead in 2019.

Greenwood has contributed to solo projects by the other members of Radiohead, and has collaborated with musicians including Tamino, Gaz Coombes, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Early life[edit]

Colin Greenwood is the older brother of the Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.[1] Their father served in the British Army as a bomb disposal expert.[2][3] The Greenwood family has historical ties to the British Communist Party and the socialist Fabian Society.[4]

Greenwood lived in Germany as a child and became fluent in German.[5] He credited his older sister, Susan, with introducing him and Jonny to "miserable" bands such as the Fall, Magazine and Joy Division. He said: "We were ostracised at school because everyone else was into Iron Maiden."[6]

When Greenwood was 12, he met the future Radiohead singer Thom Yorke at Abingdon School, a private school for boys in Oxfordshire.[7] Their future bandmates Ed O'Brien, whom Greenwood met during a school production of the opera Trial by Jury, and Philip Selway also attended the school.[8]

Greenwood bought his first guitar when he was 15.[9] He studied classical guitar under the Abingdon music teacher Terence Gilmore-James, who introduced him and the other future members of Radiohead to jazz, film scores, postwar avant-garde music, and 20th-century classical music. Greenwood said: "When we started, it was very important that we got support from him, because we weren't getting any from the headmaster. You know, the man once sent us a bill, charging us for the use of school property, because we practiced in one of the music rooms on a Sunday."[2]

According to Greenwood, he began playing bass out of necessity, teaching himself by playing along to New Order, Joy Division and Otis Redding. Among his musical influences are Booker T and the MGs, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield.[5] He said: "We were people who picked up their respective instruments because we wanted to play music together, rather than just because we wanted to play that particular instrument. So it was more of a collective angle, and if you could contribute by having someone else play your instrument, then that was really cool."[7]

Greenwood read English at Peterhouse, Cambridge, between 1987 and 1990, and read modern American literature including Raymond Carver, John Cheever and other postwar American writers.[10] While at Peterhouse, he worked as an events and entertainments officer.[11] After graduating, he took a job as a sales assistant at the record shop Our Price in Oxford.[12]


Colin Greenwood with Radiohead in 2008

In late 1991, the EMI sales representative Keith Wozencroft visited Our Price and struck up conversation with Greenwood. When Wozencroft mentioned that he was moving to a position as an A&R scout at the EMI subsidiary Parlophone, Greenwood gave him a copy of On a Friday's latest demo.[13]

On a Friday signed a six-album recording contract with EMI and changed their name to Radiohead.[14] By 2011, Radiohead had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.[15] They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2019.[16] On being in a band with his younger brother Jonny, Colin said: "Beyond the normal brotherly thing, I respect him as a person and a musician."[9]

Other work[edit]

In 1997, Greenwood participated in a marketing campaign for his alma mater Cambridge University, posing for a photo with students from both state and private schools for a poster titled "Put Yourself in the Picture". The poster was "designed to break down some of the stereotypes that deter able students from applying to Cambridge" and encourage more applicants from state schools.[17]

Greenwood contributed bass to Jonny Greenwood's debut solo work Bodysong (2003), the score for the 2008 film Woodpecker.[18] He played bass on the 2018 album Amir by the Belgian-Egyptian singer Tamino,[19] and on the album World's Strongest Man (2018) by Gaz Coombes.[20] He also played bass on "Brasil" from Earth (2020), the debut solo album by his Radiohead bandmate Ed O'Brien.[21] He contributed beat programming to Thom Yorke's song "Hearing Damage" from the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and on a track from Yorke's album Tomorrow's Modern Boxes (2014).[22]

In 2004, Greenwood participated on a panel in the annual sixth-form conference run by Radley College in collaboration with School of St Helen and St Katharine, speaking on digital-rights management (DRM) from.[23] In 2013, Greenwood soundtracked a Dries van Noten runway show, performing solo bass guitar.[24] In 2018, he reviewed Michael Palin's book Erebus: The Story of a Ship for the Spectator.[25] In late 2022, he toured Australia as part of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis's band.[26] He is due to join Cave's North American tour in late 2023.[27]


Greenwood mostly plays fingerstyle, and described himself as "rubbish" with plectrums.[28] He mainly uses Fender basses and Ampeg and Ashdown amplifiers.[28] He also plays double bass and synthesisers.[28] He said: "My involvement is to play bass guitar, but our ideas and suggestions in certain areas, as to where the music should go or develop, are listened to. We are very much a band."[29] In another interview, he said he did not think of himself as a bass player and was "just in a band with other people".[7]

Personal life[edit]

Greenwood enjoys writers such as Thomas Pynchon, V.S. Naipaul and Delmore Schwartz.[30] In December 1998, he married Molly McGrann, an American literary critic and novelist.[31][32] They have three sons, Jesse,[33] born in December 2003, Asa, born in December 2005, and Henry, born in December 2009. They live in Oxford.[34]

Greenwood is an amateur photographer.[30] In 2003, he discussed his favourite photographs in the Victoria and Albert Museum, choosing images by photographers including Frederick Sommer and Harold Edgerton.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis, Jason (1 February 1998). "Interview with Colin Greenwood". Channel V, Australia. Archived from the original on 15 January 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  2. ^ a b Ross, Alex (20 August 2001). "The Searchers: Radiohead's unquiet revolution". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  3. ^ Buxton, Adam (2016). "Ep. 22B – Jonny Greenwood (bonus Jonny bits)". The Adam Buxton Podcast. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ Dalton, Stephen (18 March 2016). "Radiohead: 'We were spitting and fighting and crying…'". Uncut. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  5. ^ a b Eshun, Kodwo (21 June 2001). "The A-Z on Radiohead: An interview with Colin Greenwood". Culture Lab UK. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  6. ^ Hendrickson, Matt (16 October 1997). "Dream Weavers". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Kelly, John (15 September 2001). "Taking Music To Strange Places". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  8. ^ Myers, Caren (1 November 1993). "Dork Radio". Details. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  9. ^ a b Clark, Stewart (12 July 1995). "Transistor Act". Hot Press. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  10. ^ Kent, Nick (1 June 2001). "Happy Now?". MOJO. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  11. ^ Irvin, Jim; Hoskyns, Barney (September 1997). "We have lift-off!". Mojo (46).
  12. ^ "Radiohead, Foals and 25 years of discovering Oxford music". BBC News. 13 March 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  13. ^ Doyle, Tom (April 2008). "The complete Radiohead". Q. Bauer Media Group. 261: 65–69. ISSN 0955-4955.
  14. ^ Ross, Alex (21 August 2001). "The Searchers: Radiohead's unquiet revolution". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 25 May 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  15. ^ Jonathan, Emma. "BBC Worldwide takes exclusive Radiohead performance to the world". BBC. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  16. ^ Greene, Andy (30 March 2019). "Radiohead, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, Janet Jackson Enter Rock Hall at Epic Ceremony". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Annual Report: All Access". University of Cambridge Annual Report. 21 August 1997. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  18. ^ Solarski, Matthew (5 August 2008). "Radiohead, Clap Your Hands guys team for soundtrack". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 5 August 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  19. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (16 October 2018). "Is Tamino the heir to Jeff Buckley?". The Independent. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Cooking with Gaz: Gaz Coombes returns to Truck Festival with 'World's Strongest Man'". Oxford Mail. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  21. ^ Schatz, Lake (2 December 2019). "Radiohead's Ed O'Brien to release debut solo album in 2020, new single "Brasil" coming this week". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  22. ^ Tomorrow's Modern Boxes vinyl packaging
  23. ^ Smith, David (8 November 2006). "Today, Truth!". Preoccupations. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  24. ^ "Watch: Radiohead's Colin Greenwood Performs Solo at Dries van Noten Fashion Show". Pitchfork. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Radiohead's Colin Greenwood Reviews New Michael Palin Book | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  26. ^ Valentish, Jenny (28 November 2022). "Nick Cave and Warren Ellis review – a transcendent night that veered on holy". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  27. ^ Minsker, Evan (23 March 2023). "Nick Cave announces tour featuring Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  28. ^ a b c D'Auria, Jon. "Colin Greenwood: How To Disappear Completely". Bass Magazine. Retrieved 6 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ MacDonald, Patrick (4 February 1998). "Radio wave: Britain's band rides crest of superstardom with low-wattage egos". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  30. ^ a b Kim, Wook. "School of Rock: 10 Supersmart Musicians". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  31. ^ "Class Notes 2000". Skidmore Scope Magazine. 1 August 2000. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  32. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (1 June 2003). "Fitter Happier: Radiohead Return". Spin. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  33. ^ Greenwood, Colin (1 April 2005). "Operatic". Thrasher Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2007.
  34. ^ "Giving Back From The Bassline". Mail & Guardian. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  35. ^ "Photography collection at the V&A redisplayed and online". Cognitive Applications News. 1 May 2003. Archived from the original on 6 July 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2007.

External links[edit]