Ed O'Brien

born on 15/4/1968 in Oxford, South East England, United Kingdom

Alias EOB

Ed O'Brien

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Ed O'Brien
Birth name Edward John O'Brien
Born April 15 1968 Oxford, England
Genres Experimental rock, alternative rock, electronica
Occupations Musician
Instruments Guitar, vocals, guitar effects, programming, drums, percussion, cabasa, keyboard
Years active 1985present
Labels XL, TBD
Associated acts Radiohead, 7 Worlds Collide

Edward John O'Brien (born 15 April 1968) is an English musician, songwriter and one of three guitarists for the alternative rock band Radiohead. He is also responsible for harmony vocals during live concerts and on many tracks from the band's albums (occasionally with drummer Phil Selway). In addition, he has played guitar and provided backing vocals for the 7 Worlds Collide project.[1]

Citing his work with Radiohead, various lists and polls have ranked Ed O'Brien as one of the greatest guitarists in the modern era.[2][3]


Main article: Radiohead

O'Brien is known for his large collection of effects pedals, which are important in creating Radiohead's distinct sound. Even on tracks that do not feature any guitar work, his pedals are put to use for other purposes, such as altering Thom Yorke's keyboard-playing (he and co-guitarist Jonny Greenwood sample Yorke's piano and vocals, respectively, with the Korg Kaoss Pad on live performances of "Everything In Its Right Place"). As well as being a self-taught guitarist, he is an accomplished drummer; though his only drum contributions for Radiohead to date have been tom drums on live performances of Hail to the Thief track "There There", a task he shares with Greenwood (though the part they play is put together on a synthesizer on the studio version).,[4] and additional drumming on the b-side Pearly*.

Notable songwriting contributions to Radiohead include the opening riff on the songs "Go to Sleep", and the riff that makes up the closing song on The Bends, "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". He has also written the instrumental "Meeting in the Aisle", "Lull", and the music to "Big Boots".

He mainly helps to expand on the musical framework created by Thom Yorke, and is known for his contributions to "Karma Police", (he created the effect that closes the song and his backing vocals during the chorus are an integral part of the song), "Lucky" (creating the effect that opens the song) and "Treefingers" (his guitar chords were processed electronically to sound like ambient music).

During live shows, he provides backing vocals to many songs such as "Blow Out", "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", "Black Star", "Paranoid Android", "Karma Police", "No Surprises", "Lucky", "The Tourist", "In Limbo", "Idioteque", "Morning Bell", "Pyramid Song", "You And Whose Army?", "Dollars and Cents", "2+2=5", "Sit Down. Stand Up.", "Backdrift", "The Gloaming", "There There", "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", and "Reckoner".

Work outside Radiohead

O'Brien made contributions to a soundtrack project for the BBC drama series Eureka Street before recording Kid A. During sessions for Kid A and Amnesiac, he kept fans up to date with an open diary posted on the band's website, providing the most in-depth look at how those experimental albums were recorded. His most recent collaboration outside Radiohead involved guitar work on an Asian Dub Foundation album; he played on "1000 Mirrors" (with Sinéad O'Connor), "Blowback" and "Enemy of the Enemy".

O'Brien has toured and recorded with Neil Finn as part of the 7 Worlds Collide project. He provided guitar and backing vocals on their eponymous 2001 live album, and reprised his role on their 2009 studio album, The Sun Came Out, where he also co-wrote two tracks.

O'Brien and bandmate Phil Selway had programming lessons with producer/engineer Phelan Kane at Tech Music Schools in London in 2001, and the same two band members also joined the 7 Worlds Collide project.

OBrien is a founding director of the Featured Artists Coalition.[5]

Personal life

O'Brien lives with his wife Susan Cobrin, who previously worked for Amnesty International, in London.[6][7] The couple have a son, Salvador, born in January 2004 and daughter, Oona, born in early 2006. O'Brien studied economics at the University of Manchester. He is the tallest member of Radiohead, standing at 6' 5" or 195 cm (no other band members exceed 6 feet tall).



  • "Plank" guitar (custom built to Ed's specifications)
  • Rickenbacker 360 (2)
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Gibson ES 330 (60s)
  • Gibson ES 335 (60s)
  • Fender Stratocaster (white)
  • Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster (black) (2)
  • Fernandes Native Pro
  • Gibson Les Paul Goldtop (belongs to Johnny Marr)
  • Line 6 Variax 700
  • Epiphone Casino


  • Digitech Whammy IV
  • Akai Headrush
  • Line 6 DL-4 Delay
  • BOSS DD-5 Digital Delay (4)
  • BOSS GE-7 Equalizer
  • Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
  • Electro-Harmonix Small Stone
  • BOSS PN-2 Tremolo/Pan
  • BOSS RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay
  • BOSS LS-2 Line Selector
  • Crowther Hotcake
  • MXR Dynacomp
  • Lovetone Ring Stinger
  • Lovetone Meatball
  • MXR Micro Amp
  • BOSS TU-2 Tuner
  • Dunlop Cry Baby Wah
  • BOSS FS-5U
  • Dunlop Stereo Tremolo
  • Mesa Boogie Amp Footswitch
  • BOSS FV-300H (now replaced with FV-500H)
  • Roland Space Echo (used pre-OK Computer)
  • Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb
  • Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man w/ Hazarai
  • Roger Linn Adrenalinn
  • Line 6 Pod PRO
  • BOSS Dr Sample

These are pedals that have been identified over the years. Not all of these pedals may be used at one time. In 2006, a MIDI Controller took the place of many Delays.

He also frequently uses an eBow electronic bow.


  • Vox AC30 (2) (used for clean tones) most Modulation/Delay Pedals are used on this.
  • Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-O-Verb (2) (used for the distorted tones)
  • Line 6 VETTA II
  • Fender Super-Sonic 112 combo, fed into a Super-Sonic 212 cabinet (seen used in the thumbs_down webcast).


  • He plays the cabasa on "Paranoid Android".
  • Fender Rhodes on "In Limbo".
  • A shaker (percussion) instrument on live performances of "Idioteque".


  1. New 7 Worlds Collide. Buzzmedia Music. Retrieved on 5 September 2010.
  2. Rolling Stone's "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" Do you agree?, The Insider. URL accessed on 2010-05-17.
  3. "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". Gibson.com. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  4. http://www.greenplastic.com/lyrics/therethere.php
  5. Music stars call for more power, BBC News, 12 March 2009.
  6. Binelli, Mark. The Future According to Radiohead. Rolling Stone. 2008-02-07
  7. Craig Mclean. [1]. Guardian. 2007-12-09

External links

  • StringsReunited.com : Includes a regular blog by Plank, Radiohead technician, giving technical information.
This page was last modified 25.03.2011 14:43:14

This article uses material from the article Ed O'Brien from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.