top of page

Johnny Greenwood

The eternal boy Jonny Greenwood is celebrating his birthday today, so let's tell you some interesting facts about him:

(Photo: sfcv.org)


1. Johnny was born on November 5, 1971, as Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood in Oxford England.


2. As a child played in various youth orchestras. His first musical instrument was a flute given to him at the age of 4, but he also took musical lessons playing viola, making him the only "Radiohead" member with a background in classical music.


3. Together with his two-year-old older brother, Colin Greenwood, he attended Abingdon Boys' School, where he also met his "Radiohead" bandmates.


4. In 1986 he joined the band "On a Friday", which was named after the only day of the week when they could practice.


5. As the youngest member of the band Johnny was the last to join it, initially as a keyboardist and harmonica player, but very quickly he became the lead guitarist.


6. Within a short time the band had its first demo and they received an offer for a recording contract.


7. The band changed its name to "Radiohead" and signed a recording contract with "Parlophone".


8. Greenwood left his music and psychology studies as soon as "Radiohead" signed the recording contract.


9. In 1992 the band released their first hit "Creep" which featured Greenwood's aggressive guitar playing.


10. His iconic entry in the chorus of “Creep” with the three guitar blasts was originally intended to ruin the song. He did not like that the song was so quiet and calm.


11. Johnny is a multi-instrumentalist and in addition to guitar he also plays bass guitar, banjo, a variety of keyboards, viola, xylophone, harmonica, and even drums. He also plays on Martenot which is a kind of early electronic keyboard.


12. In addition to his musical talent Greenwood also has knowledge in computer programming and he uses this to enrich the sound of "Radiohead" as reflected among others in the album "The King of Limbs". He uses electronic techniques, programming, sound samples, and loops and even writes music software for the band to use.


13. Greenwood describes his place on "Radiohead" as a producer who helps turn Thom York's demos into full songs. Indeed, Greenwood also serves as the arranger of some of the band's works and, among other things, performs arrangements for strings and brass instruments. One of the first examples of Greenwood's string arrangements is in the song "How to Disappear Completely."


14. Greenwood composed music for eight films, including "Phantom Thread" and "There Will Be Blood."


15. He also composed classical music for orchestras, including: "London Contemporary Orchestra" and "BBC Concert Orchestra".


16. He even formed an independent label for classical music called "Octatonic Records".


17. In 1995, he married Sharona Katan, an Israeli visual artist from Kiryat Ono. He speaks excellent Hebrew and the two have three children.


18. Sharona and Greenwood met during Radiohead's first tour of Israel in 1993, which included live shows at the mythical "Roxanne" Club.


19. In 1998 Greenwood co-formed with Thom York, Bernard Butler of "Suede" and Andy McKay of "Roxy Music" the band "Venus in Furs" which recorded cover versions of "Roxy Music" songs for the movie "Velvet Goldmine".


20. It was not the only Greenwood's collaboration with a member of Roxy Music. He has played on two solo albums by Brian Perry "Frantic" from 2002 and "Olympia" from 2010.

(Photo: Gaelle Beri)


21. In 2003 Greenwood released his first solo work, a soundtrack for a documentary called "Bodysong" starring his brother Colin on bass.


22. In 2004 Greenwood received an offer to fill in for guitarist John McGeoch who passed away during the reunion tour of "Magazine". Although he is a fan of the post-punk band he declined the offer.


23. In 2007, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of "Trojan Records", Greenwood put together a collection of reggae and dub songs by the label's artists and released a compilation album called "Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller", which included songs in the style of Dub and Roots Reggae from the seventies.


24. In 2008 Greenwood collaborated with Dudu Tassa on the song "Some Day" from the album "Basof Mitraglim LeHacol".


25. This is not Greenwood's only collaboration with an Israeli artist. In 2015 he collaborated with composer Shai Ben Tzur and the band "Rajasthan Express" to create the album "Junun".


26. The album "Junun" was chosen as the Sunday Times Album of the Year in the world music category.


27. Although he's a really good lead guitarist, Johnny does not like guitar solos, he thinks they are boring because you can predict what the next note the guitarist is going to play. He prefers to surprise the listener.


28. His favorite guitar is "Fender Telecaster Plus", but he also plays "Fender Stratocaster" and Gibson Les Paul guitars.


29. He appeared in the 2005 Harry Potter film "Harry Potter And the Goblet Of Fire" as part of the "Weird Sisters" bans. Along with him in the band was Radiohead drummer Phil Selway, see here:


30. The first ever live rock show Greenwood saw in his life was The Fall in 1988.


31. In 2006 he co-starred with Thom York in the remake of the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" As part of the "BBand-Aid20" project.


32. In 2010, NME music magazine named Greenwood one of the best guitarists.


33. That same year he was also voted the seventh best guitarist of all time in a poll of more than 30,000 BBC 6 radio listeners.


34. In 2011 Greenwood reached number 48 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the best guitarists of all time.


35. In the same year he also reached number 29 on SPIN magazine's list of the best guitarists of all time.


36. His solo in the song "Paranoid Android" was ranked 34th on Guitar World magazine's all-time great solo list.


37. He also managed to put three of his solos on NME Magazine's list of the greatest solos of all time, the songs "Paranoid Android", "The Bends" and "Just".


38. Greenwood has released throughout his musical career along with Radiohead 9 studio albums and 6 EPs.


39. In 2019 he entered with his bandmates into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".


40. In 2021 Greenwood co-founded "The Smile", with Thom York and drummer Tom Skinner. They gave their first appearance on May 22, 2021, in a livestream show. Watch here.


41. In 2023 Greenwood together with the Israeli musician Dudu Tessa released an album called "Jarak Qaribak". An album with Eastern Mediterranean influences that combines different artists from the region. The album was produced by Nigel Godrich who also worked with Radiohead.




Follow us on Facebook or Subscribe to our website

"Face/Off" - Israel's Rock Blog & Podcast

Comments


Enjoying the Blog? Subscribe to get it right to your mail!

Thank you !!

bottom of page