Thom Yorke reveals he smoked a blunt before playing an encore then lost it on stage: "I was looking at the keyboard going, ‘What’s this?’ - I was so high, I just got up from the piano and walked off"

thom yorke
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Billed as "a collection of inspiring conversations about the beauty, brutality, discipline and technique of being a successful singer", Jason Thomas Gordon's The Singers Talk features interviews with some of music's best-known vocalists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ozzy Osborne and Chrissie Hynde. 

The book contains a wealth of fascinating insights into the careers of these gifted singers, but perhaps the most amusing anecdote arrives courtesy of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. In an excerpt published last week via Rolling Stone, Yorke reveals that he once had a minor freakout on stage after a mid-set puff on a Californian blunt proved a little stronger than expected. 

When asked about his most "embarrassing vocal mishap", Yorke sets the scene, describing a "great show" in San Francisco's Shoreline that took a surprising turn, ending with Yorke practically climbing up the walls before swiftly disappearing completely. "Before the final encore, I smoked a blunt with Jonny," Yorke says. "I went back on and started playing Everything in Its Right Place and got completely lost."

"I think I sang the second verse first, and then I was looking at the keyboard going, 'What’s this?'," he continues. "Then, I went to sing the next verse, and I realized, I’ve just sung that, and I looked at the others, and they were all going [makes a face] “Get us out of this one.” I’m just going around the riff, looking at the audience, and they’re all singing the words, and I’m going, “What?” I was so high, I just got up from the piano and walked off."

Elsewhere in the interview, Yorke reveals the one singer from musical history he'd love to duet with the most (John Lennon) and picks out his favourite vocal performance, the haunting and ethereal Bloom from The King of Limbs. "On the surface, that’s quite simple, but actually is a real bastard, which is what’s nice about it," he says. 

"You kind of have to sing it in this way that’s reeeeeally open. But when you do it live, it’s much harder because there’s a lot of technical shit going on, and you have to totally forget about the chaos and come in with this really open voice. It’s a bit like playing trumpet because you’re not thinking about the words, you’re making just this sound — Raaaaaaaa!"

Jason Thomas Gordon's The Singers Talk is available now.

Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a piano, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my over-stuffed hard drive.