Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood (born 5 November 1971) is a BAFTA and Grammy-nominated musician and composer-in-residence for the BBC, best known as a member of English alternative rock group Radiohead. Greenwood is a multi-instrumentalist, but serves mainly as a guitarist and keyboard player. He is the younger brother of fellow Radiohead member Colin Greenwood. In addition to guitar and keyboard instruments he fluently plays viola, xylophone, glockenspiel, ondes Martenot, banjo, harmonica and drums. He also does work on the electronic side of Radiohead, working on computer-generated sounds and sampling. He was ranked number 59 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Citing his work with Radiohead, Channel 4 has described Greenwood as a "significant creative force within the music industry."
Greenwood had recently started university when Radiohead predecessor On A Friday signed a recording contract with EMI in 1991. He left university shortly after. While Greenwood is the only member of Radiohead to have been classically trained on any instrument (he took viola lessons as a child), he is also the only band member without a university degree.
Greenwood's influence on Radiohead's recording and writing can be heard in many songs, as he usually takes the traditional lead-guitarist role. For a while, Greenwood wore an arm brace due to a repetitive strain injury attributed to his "aggressive" way of playing the instrument, often billed as "abusive guitar". He often still wears the brace. He has said that "It's like taping up your fingers before a boxing match."
Greenwood is often credited as the second major influence on songwriting in Radiohead, next to Thom Yorke. He wrote the music for the closing tracks of OK Computer ("The Tourist") and Hail to the Thief ("A Wolf at the Door"). He also wrote the intro, chorus and outro sections of the song "Subterranean Homesick Alien" from the OK Computer album. According to Yorke the track "Just" from The Bends was "a competition by me and Jonny to get as many chords as possible into a song". An example of Greenwood's versatility is his use of the Ondes Martenot, which is featured on songs such as "The National Anthem" and "How to Disappear Completely" from the album Kid A, and "Pyramid Song" from the album Amnesiac. The song "Where I End and You Begin" from Hail to the Thief, which also features the instrument, was dedicated to the memory of Jeanne Loriod, a pioneer of the Ondes. It is also featured in the middle eight of "Bodysnatchers" on In Rainbows.
Greenwood and Yorke also collaborated on the song "Arpeggi" which is a piece in a classical style centered around arpeggios for voice, Ondes, and orchestra. It was performed with the London Sinfonietta and Arab Orchestra of Nazareth at the Ether Festival in March 2005; the song would later be adapted for the full band to play in 2006, rearranged for guitar. A studio version (closer to the full band version than the orchestral version) appeared on the album In Rainbows as "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi".
Solo work and current projects
In 2003, Greenwood released his first solo album, Bodysong (2003), the soundtrack for the movie of the same title by filmmaker Simon Pummell. Bodysong also features contributions from his brother Colin on bass.
Jonny Greenwood was hired by the BBC as its composer in residence in May 2004, a job which gave him the opportunity to compose several pieces for symphony orchestra, piano and/or Ondes Martenot: smear, Piano for Children and Popcorn Superhet Receiver. smear premiered in 2004, and on 23 April 2005 Greenwood premiered his new work commissioned by BBC Radio 3, with music performed live by the BBC Concert Orchestra in London. The printed music for smear and Popcorn Superhet Receiver are available from Faber Music Ltd in London. smear has also been recorded by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Martyn Brabbins and is Greenwood's recorded debut in the genre.
Greenwood won the Radio 3 Listeners' Award at the 2006 BBC British Composer Awards for his piece, "Popcorn Superhet Receiver". The piece was inspired by radio static and the extended, dissonant chords of Polish composer Penderecki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima", it can be streamed from a BBC website. Upon winning the award Greenwood received £10,000 from the PRS Foundation towards a commission for a new orchestral work.
A fan of dub reggae, Greenwood released a compilation in collaboration with Trojan Records, entitled Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller in March 2007. This is the latest in Trojan’s Artist Choice Jukebox series, to which DJ Spooky and Don Letts have already contributed. Trojan Records provided Greenwood with its extensive catalog of songs, of which he chose 17. The title is a play on the first track on the collection, entitled "Dread Are The Controller", by Linval Thompson. The album contains tracks by artists such as Derrick Harriott, Gregory Isaacs, The Heptones and many more.
Greenwood composed the score for the 2007 film, There Will Be Blood, from director Paul Thomas Anderson. The soundtrack contains excerpts from "Popcorn Superhet Receiver". His work as the composer for this film earned him an award at the Critics' Choice Awards. On January 21, 2008, however, the score was declared ineligible for an Academy Award nomination under a rule that prohibited "scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other pre-existing music." On 4 February 2008 it was announced that Greenwood had won the trophy for Best Film Score in the Evening Standard British Film Awards for 2007.
In late 2008, Greenwood collaborated with Israeli rock musician Dudu Tasa on Tasa's Hebrew-language single "What a Day".
Greenwood is greatly influenced by jazz and classical music; his favourites include Lee Morgan and Miles Davis. He is a major fan of the Mo'Wax label (onetime home of Blackalicious, DJ Krush, DJ Shadow and Dr. Octagon). Along with other Radiohead band members, he loves Krautrock band Can and Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Greenwood's all time favourite piece of music is Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony, a gigantic piece for orchestra and Ondes Martenot, which he discovered as a teenager. According to one of his entries on Radiohead's blog Dead Air Space, Greenwood has become a dub reggae aficionado, listening as of late 2005 to little else.
On the last date of Radiohead's summer 2008 tour with Grizzly Bear in support, Greenwood spoke of his love for them on stage, saying they are his "favourite band in the world". One of Greenwood's favourite guitarists is John McGeoch
In 1995 Jonny Greenwood married Israeli-born Sharona Katan, a visual artist whose work (credited as Shin Katan) appears on the covers of the Bodysong soundtrack as well as the There Will Be Blood soundtrack. Their first son, Tamir, was born in 2002 and has the 2003 Radiohead album Hail to the Thief dedicated to him. They also have a daughter named Omri, born in 2005, and a second son, named Zohar, who was born in February 2008.
Greenwood is red-green colourblind.
- Fender Telecaster Plus, with a custom cut-off switch and special rewirings made by Greenwood and Plank (Radiohead's Guitar Technician). This guitar is equipped with Lace Sensor pickups.
- Fender Telecaster Standard converted into a Plus which also has a custom cut-off switch and Lace Sensor pickups
- 1975 Fender Starcaster, with Fender Wide Range pickups, can be heard predominantly on Kid A and Amnesiac, it is used for most Kid A and Amnesiac he plays guitar on live, and a few songs from OK Computer.
- A Gretsch G6119-1962HT Tennessee Rose HT.
- Gibson Les Paul HD.6X-Pro Digital
- Gibson ES-335 (used on the acoustic Tour 2003)
Jonny currently uses Dean Markley Signature Series 10-46 strings.
- Martin D-35
- Taylor Big Baby (played by both Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke in pictures from Dead Air Space)
- Vox AC30, used for clean tones.
- Fender Eighty-Five , solid state amp, used for distorted tones.
In the earlier years he used a Fender Twin Reverb for clean tones. He recently replaced the Deluxe 85 with an Eighty-Five.
Current Effects Pedals
Jonny orders his pedals on his boards not in order of his signal chain, which confuses many people. He has changed pedals around and added new ones over the years which adds to the confusion. Here is however a very close order of his current pedals from guitar to amps:
- Electro-Harmonix Small Stone
- Electro-Harmonix Poly Chorus (recently removed from his board)
- Demeter 'The Tremulator' (older version of the Demeter TRM-1 Tremulator)
- DOD 440 Envelope Filter (modified to include an LED)
- Digitech WH-1 Whammy
- BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive
- BOSS RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay
- BOSS RE-20 Space Echo
- Roland Space Echo RE-201 (activated via Vox egg footswitch)
- Akai Headrush E1 or E2
- BOSS LS-2 Line Selector (A/B mode)
- Marshall ShredMaster (leads to Fender 85)
- ProCo Rat Distortion (used during The Bends era)
- BOSS FV-500H Volume Pedal (previously BOSS FV-300H)
- BOSS TU-12H Chromatic Tuner (from 'tuner out' on FV-500H)
- Roland FC-200 midi controller
- Mutronics Mutator (used in the studio)
- Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 (one on each board)
- There are two more BOSS LS2's in his signal. One for bringing in the Kaoss pad into his setup and one for running his guitar through his Mac.
- Analogue Systems RS8000 Integrator
- Analogue Systems RS8500X
- Analogue Systems French Connection
- Ondes Martenot
- Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
- Korg Prophecy
- Hammond XB2 Digital Organ
- Moog Rogue
- Mellotron M400
- Rhodes Suitcase Piano Mark I 73
- Fatar Keys CMS-161
- Upright Piano
- BOSS RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay
- Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phase Shifter
- BOSS FV300L/H
- BOSS LS-2 Line Selector
- Akai Headrush E1 or E2
- Roland Space Echo RE-201
- 3 Laptops, manned by Jonny and band technician Russ Russell, running Kontakt 3, are used to trigger samples and keyboard sounds, played in realtime by Jonny and Colin. One laptop is placed by Jonny's other gear, the others being side of stage with Russ.
- Jonny uses a portable radio, specifically during the songs "Climbing Up the Walls" and "The National Anthem"
- Laptop Computer running Max/MSP (now Kontakt sampler by Native Instruments) (Used to process his guitar sound, such as in the guitar solo at the end of "Go to Sleep". Also used to control electronic parts in live versions of songs such as "The Gloaming" and "15 Step")
- Korg Kaoss Pad (for sampling, such as Thom Yorke's voice in the song "Everything in Its Right Place")
- Harmonica (for the song "I Am A Wicked Child" and on the Pavement songs "Platform Blues" and "Billie" from their final album Terror Twilight)
- Glockenspiel (for "No Surprises", "Morning Bell/Amnesiac", "Sit Down. Stand Up" and "All I Need")
- Toms (he uses a pair of identical toms with two drum sticks for each hand. These are featured in "There There", where most members of the band play percussion)
- He has recently been spotted with a banjo. The band played a sound check on their recent tour where Greenwood played the banjo on Radiohead song "I Am A Wicked Child". Other members of the band have said that banjos are "banned", and despite Jonny's constant attempts to include them in songs, they will not feature.
- Voodoo Labs Pedal Power units power all pedals.
- Velvet Goldmine
- Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood got together with Bernard Butler (Suede), Andy Mckey, and Paul Kimble to form the band, The Venus in Furs, named after the Velvet Underground song. They recorded five songs (Roxy Music, Brian Eno and Steve Harley covers) for the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine, which was produced by Michael Stipe. The tracks are:
- "2HB" (vocals: Thom Yorke)
- "Ladytron" (vocals: Thom Yorke)
- "Baby's on Fire"
- "Bitter-Sweet" (vocals: Thom Yorke)
- "Tumbling Down"
- Greenwood played harmonica on Pavement's final LP, Terror Twilight (1999). He played on the songs "Platform Blues" and "Billie". The album was produced by long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich.
- Bryan Ferry
- Jonny appears on the track 'Hiroshima' from the Frantic album.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Greenwood played lead guitar in The Weird Sisters along with fellow Radiohead member Phil Selway, former Pulp members Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, electronica artist Jason Buckle and Add N to (X) member Steve Claydon. They performed three tracks, composed by Cocker:
- "Do the Hippogriff"
- "This Is the Night"
- "Magic Works"
Biography from Wikipedia