Bio + Facts
Colin Greenwood Biography
Colin Charles Greenwood (born 26 June 1969), also known as Coz, is a member of English rock band Radiohead. He is best known as their bass player, although he does play other instruments. He is the older brother of fellow band member, Jonny Greenwood.
Greenwood first teamed up with classmate Thom Yorke in 1986 to start a band, then known as On A Friday; Ed O’Brien was then recruited, and finally, older student Phil Selway was approached to join the band. Later, Greenwood’s younger brother Jonny, then 14 years old, also joined the band. Of being in a band with his brother, Greenwood has said, “…beyond the normal brotherly thing, I respect him as a person and a musician,” and has quipped, “It’s wonderful, it’s good, it makes my promise to keep an eye on him for my mother a lot easier, having him right next to me all the time. But he’s very easy to look after anyway, ’cause he’s very well behaved.”
While an undergraduate studying English at Peterhouse, Cambridge between 1987 and 1990, Greenwood read modern American literature, including Raymond Carver, John Cheever and other writers “dealing with the tensions of post-war American society.” At Peterhouse, Greenwood served as the college’s entertainment officer, and helped arrange several gigs for On A Friday. Later, whilst working at the music chain store, Our Price, he had a hand in helping the band get off the ground. When Keith Wozencroft, as a sales rep for EMI, entered the store one day, Greenwood said, “You should sign my band,” and handed him their demo tape. That got it all started for the band, with EMI. At this time the band renamed themselves Radiohead.
Greenwood plays a number of instruments for Radiohead including electric- and acoustic bass, double bass, keyboards, samplers, and synthesizers, and a variety of percussive instruments. He favours Fender basses. Said Greenwood, “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.”
Greenwood was instrumental in creating the song “Dollars and Cents”, which arose when he played his bassline over an Alice Coltrane record he particularly liked; brother Jonny set about creating an original string arrangement with the same vibe. “‘Dollars and Cents’ is Curtis Mayfield. When I play fuzz bass on ‘Packt Like Sardines’ and ‘Exit Music’ on OK Computer it’s all, I think his name is Henry Thomson, something like that. Curtis’s bass player, yeah, who is God, fine man.”
The bass line in “The National Anthem”, perhaps Radiohead’s most recognizable, was actually played in the Kid A recording by Thom Yorke. However, Greenwood plays it live.
Airbag is Greenwood’s own favorite of his bass lines. He has said that he played the distinctive fragments heard in the song, and planned to come up with something to fill all the gaps, but never got around to it.
Though Greenwood mainly plays bass using the finger picking technique, he can also be heard playing slap bass on the song “My Iron Lung”, off the album The Bends
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