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How LIVE 105 Helped Launch Radiohead

Proudly we can boast (#humblebrag) that 20 years ago Live 105 was the first radio station in America to play Radiohead and were instrumental in helping launch their outstanding career in the States.

Back in 1992, long before the internet and iTunes, I was working at a very cool Mom and Pop indie record store in Berkeley called MOD LANG RECORDS and I would assist in ordering all the latest UK imports. I discovered a new brit-rock band from Oxford, England called Radiohead and ordered their debut DRILL EP for the shop. Soon thereafter, the band released their new import single for “Creep” – which I ordered for the store and began to play on my college radio station in Hayward at KCRH, Chabot – and the song became a BIG tune for me.

Steve Masters, longtime Live 105 Music Director/DJ and someone who had a huge impact and influence on my own career, would frequent Mod Lang Records on a regular basis looking for hot new imports to spin and I gave him a copy of “Creep” to check out. He was so blown away by the song that he debuted it immediately on his evening radio show and “Creep” would go on to become a massive hit for Live 105 and our overall #1 song of 1992!

And at the time Live 105 was playing the un-edited version of “Creep”, too in all its “YOU’RE SO F**KING SPECIAL’ glory.

Phil Costello, a record executive for Capitol Records was serendipitously in-town around the early airplay of “Creep” here in the Bay Area for a music meeting with Steve Masters and then station Program Director Richard Sands and actually heard the song for the very first time on our airwaves while driving from SFO to Live 105. This would ultimately help expedite U.S. label interest with this young band and, well, the rest is history

Finally, my favorite early Radiohead story was hosting though my college radio station KCRH an in-store and meet-n-greet with the band at the now defunct ROUGH TRADE RECORDS store on Haight Street in the Fall of 1992 where maybe 15 total people came out to the meet the band! Kinda a Spinal Tap moment, heh.

On July 11, 1993, Live 105 hosted a FREE Radiohead show in Justin Herman plaza, San Francisco.

The rest is history …

— Aaron Axelsen, Live 105 Music Director/Assistant Program Director

More from Aaron Axelsen / Soundcheck
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