Entertainment

Thom Yorke tells of ‘hard time' after death of ex-partner in 2016

Rachel Owen died in 2016 after suffering from cancer.

Radiohead star Thom Yorke has spoken of the “hard time” his family went through following the death of his ex-partner.

Rachel Owen died aged 48, in 2016, after suffering from cancer.

The couple were partners for 23 years and had two children together, Noah and Agnes, before splitting in 2015.

Asked about being a father, the Radiohead frontman told Desert Island Discs: “I can’t hope to be their mum but we’re alright.

Thom Yorke on Desert Island Discs
Thom Yorke on Desert Island Discs (Amanda Benson/BBC)

“I’m just really proud of them both. It stuns me most days. I can’t believe they’re anything to do with me. They’re just such great people.”

He said: “When the kids’ mum died, it was a very difficult period and we went through a lot.

“It was very hard. She suffered a great deal and my ambition is to make sure that we have come out of it alright, and I hope that’s what’s happening.”

Yorke told the BBC Radio 4 show: “I’m lucky now because I have a new partner who has come and brought a light into all of it, which has taken a great deal of strength.

“And really if all that’s OK … If I’m able to make some music that expresses all that and is still important to people, that’s more than I can ask for.”

Yorke also admitted to presenter Lauren Laverne that he is a “hypocrite” for flying around the world on tour while campaigning against climate change.

“The thing I’ve always struggled somewhat with, is if I’m campaigning on climate change, I’m someone who has to fly for my work so … I’m a hypocrite

“I totally agree I’m a hypocrite but … what do you want to do about it?”

Speaking after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparked a furore for flying on private jets, he said: “The truth of the matter is we’re all part of a system. It’s a systemic thing that has to change.

“You can do stuff but the real stuff has to happen in Parliament and the UN, and has to happen now, we’re out of time.”

Yorke told how he found it difficult to cope with Radiohead’s success initially.

“I got angry. I’m an extremely angry person. I got more control freakery. I put my hands on the steering wheel and I white-knuckled, and I didn’t care who I hurt or what I said,” he said.

“Years later I sat down with the guys and apologised … By the time we got to recording OK Computer the doors had opened up and we had the best time doing that record.”

He said REM frontman Michael Stipe “helped me when things went crazy, when people started to talk to me like I was Jesus… on the street”.

Thom Yorke on Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 today at 11.15am.

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