Radiohead refuses to pay ransom, releases stolen music for fans to buy

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs in 2017.
(Andy Buchanan / AFP/Getty Images)

Radiohead, hailing to the thief? Nope. It’d rather burn the witch.

The British rock band has released 18 hours of session recordings from the making of its seminal 1997 album “OK Computer.” The move comes after the recordings were stolen for ransom from singer Thom Yorke’s digital files.

According to the band’s guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, the thief was demanding $150,000 for the previously unreleased songs. And though these tracks were “never intended for public consumption,” it was better to release the music than deal with a ransom demand, he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Greenwood also clarified that all 18 hours of the sessions will be available on Bandcamp for the next 18 days for about $23. All proceeds will go to the activist organization Extinction Rebellion, which stages protests to raise awareness of climate change.


A message on the band’s Bandcamp page notes that the recordings are from “1995-1998(?)” and that “it’s not v interesting” and “there’s a lot of it.” It also states that “as [the music is] out there, it may as well be out there, until we all get bored, and move on.”

The collection includes unreleased songs, early studio and live versions of tracks, unmastered takes and jam sessions. There is also a fan-run Google document that has notes and timestamps for the new collection.

Radiohead has a long history of bucking industry standards and not caving to demands. The band was an early proponent of the pay-what-you-want pricing model with the self-release of 2007’s “In Rainbows.”