watch a pre-radiohead thom yorke perform ‘high and dry’ in 1989

a jangly blast from the past

After co-founding the band that would become Radiohead in 1985, Thom Yorke left the group’s hometown of Abington, Oxfordshire, to study at the University of Exeter in Cornwall. 

It’s there that this footage of Yorke playing with his college band, Headless Chickens, was captured all the way back in what is probably 1989. You can thank Reddit for this. What’s more remarkable than the vintage of the recording is the Chickens' early version of “High and Dry”—the same song that would become an international hit off of Radiohead’s The Bends six years later.

Fans of late-'80s British psych rock will be familiar with the wall of crunchy guitars that mark this faster, more aggressive rendition of the tune (as will they be with the oversized club t-shirts and white-guy dreads). We wouldn’t go so far to say this is bad, but it sure doesn’t hold a candle to what Yorke and his infinitely more famous band were able to do with the song years later. 

Click above for a look into an icon’s past and head on over to Stereogum for a second video showing Yorke as a backup guitarist playing on Headless Chickens’ only single.