*Guitarist Ed O’Brien of the influential English rock band Radiohead recalls how music in general saved his life as a young kid coming of age in the 80s, and credits Prince specifically as the first artist to ever speak to him musically – specifically Prince’s 1987 double album “Sign o’ the Times.”
“Prince kind of saved my life in the same way that music saved my life,” O’Brien said on the podcast of the Ninja Tune label, according to Diffuser.fm. “The first record I bought was ‘Sign o’ the Times.’ I did a double whammy — ‘Sign o’ the Times’ and De La Soul’s ‘3 Feet High and Rising.’ Those were my first two purchases… I was having a pretty s— time, a lot of change and confusion. Music saved me and Prince was a huge part of that.
If I had to pinpoint what defined the good stuff, what I’m looking for generally in ‘expression’ of any form — whether it’s now, having a conversation with you, watching a film, or music, or reading, or whatever, engaging with other human beings—I want to feel, I guess, a sense of… It’s that thing when you feel someone’s being themselves and it gives you license to be yourself.”
O’Brien said he fell victim to the “taste police” while growing up in Oxfordshire, England, meaning it wasn’t cool among his peers to listen to certain types of mainstream music. But Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times” broke through the wall.
“The ’80s it was like, what tribe are you in? What gang are you in? So I was in the post-punk, Smiths, you know, indie… and I didn’t listen to Led Zeppelin. Happy Mondays and Stone Roses changed it all, because suddenly dance music. But in Oxfordshire we didn’t listen to R&B, really, and unfortunately it was one of the negative aspects of our childhood growing up.”
Prince, meanwhile, was a fan of Radiohead. Watch his cover of the band’s single “Creep” below: