Second only to Thom Yorke as Radiohead's major creative force, multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood constantly helped to guide the band towards new sonic territories while also pursuing a sideline composing classical scores for a string of big-screen epics. Born in Oxford in 1971, Greenwood first showcased his talents in indie-rock outfit Illiterate Hands with future The Unbelievable Truth members Andy Yorke and Nigel Powell before he joined the former's brother and his own sibling, Colin, as harmonica player in On A Friday, later taking over keyboard duties and eventually settling in the role of lead guitarist.
Abandoning his Music /Psychology course at Oxford Brookes University after just three weeks when the band signed a six-album deal with EMI in 1991 (changing their name to Radiohead in the process), Greenwood perhaps unwittingly then provided the hook for their breakthrough single "Creep." Indeed, rumor has it that the song's iconic bursts of guitar distortion were in fact an attempt to sabotage a track he disliked. But instead, they helped to propel the song into the U.S. Top 40 and installed the group as college rock favorites while simultaneously creating something of an albatross around their necks.
Greenwood continued to develop his trademark aggressive guitar-playing style on 1995's The Bends ("Just," "My Iron Lung"), also picking up a repetitive strain injury which forced him to wear an arm brace for his efforts. But despite claiming that he'd become bored with the instrument, he still managed to redefine the sounds it could produce on 1997's seminal OK Computer, most notably with his attempt to recreate the trumpet tone of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" on "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and the intense squalling finale of "Paranoid Android."
However, Greenwood did eventually begin to explore other avenues in an effort to reinvent Radiohead's sound, using everything from the Ondes Martenot, one of the 20th Century's earliest electronic instruments, to samples of 1970s computer music on 2000's ground-breaking Kid A and inviting jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton to perform on 2001 follow-up Amnesiac. Greenwood then went on to experiment even further on his solo debut, fusing free jazz, classical and electronica on what was also the official soundtrack to Simon Pummell's documentary about the human condition, "Bodysong" (2003).
Hired as composer in residence by the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2004, Greenwood then received critical acclaim for his score to "There Will Be Blood" (2007), only missing out on a likely Oscar nomination because of its use of pre-existing music (his own modern-classical composition "Popcorn Superhet Receiver"). Greenwood further established his cinematic credentials by providing the music for the big-screen adaptations of the novels "Norwegian Wood" (2010) and "We Need To Talk About Kevin" (2011). After demonstrating his skills as a computer programmer by creating the software Radiohead used to record their album "The King Of Limbs," Greenwood reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson on "The Master" (2012) and released an album of works with Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki.