That time Thom Yorke formed a glam rock band with members of Radiohead, Suede, Roxy Music and, umm, David Gray’s drummer

Thom Yorke, Radiohead, performing on stage, Lowlands, Biddinghuizen, Netherlands, 27th August 1995
(Image credit: Niels van Iperen/Getty Images)

The 1998 Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine captured the hedonistic, anything-goes chaos of 70s glam rock with a crack cast (including Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Toni Collette, Christian Bale and more) and an even better soundtrack that features Brian Eno, Shudder To Think, Placebo, Teenage Fanclub and Grant Lee Buffalo. But, trumping all of that is a band not heard before or since: The Venus In Furs, a group specially put together just for the film, whose members included Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, Suede’s Bernard Butler, Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay and David Gray’s drummer Craig McClune.

The group recorded five cover versions for the soundtrack, reworking Roxy Music’s 2HB, Ladytron and Bitter-Sweet, Cockney Rebel’s Tumbling Down and Brian Eno’s Baby’s On Fire, with Yorke taking lead vocals on the former three and doing a very entertaining Bryan Ferry impression, and Rhys Meyers showcasing a pretty decent Bowie pastiche on the latter two. With the songs in the can and waiting for the film and soundtrack to come out in ’98, Yorke spoke about the Michael Stipe-produced project to MTV.

“It was cool, but it doesn’t sound like me singing at all,” said Yorke. “They were saying, ‘ham it up!’. It’s quite peculiar listening to it. The version of Bitter-Sweet is really cool.”

It wouldn’t be the last time that members of Radiohead formed a supergroup for a film. In 2005, Jonny Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway teamed up with members of Pulp, including Jarvis Cocker, to become The Weird Sisters in Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, performing as the main attraction at Hogwarts’ Yule Ball. Even that isn’t Radiohead’s most memorable guest appearance – that honour would fall to their cameo in South Park when they turn up to taunt a teenager by calling him a cry baby: 

Little cry baby! Hear Thom Yorke’s bang-on Bryan Ferry impression below:

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer for The Guardian, Variety and Classic Rock, and co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former editors of Q magazine Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. Niall has written for NME, X-Ray Magazine and XFM Online and interviewed some of music’s biggest stars, including Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, St Vincent, The 1975, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and many more.