Thom Yorke opens up about the death of his partner of 23 years

During an appearance on BBC Radio 4‘s Desert Island Discs podcast on Sunday, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, for the first time, opened up about the “hard times” that he and his children went through when dealing with the death of his ex-partner, Rachel Owen.

Owen died of cancer on Dec. 18, 2016, at the age of 48. The pair were together for 23 years. They had a son and a daughter together, Noah (born 2001) and Agnes (born 2004).

Though the focus of the show was for Yorke to explain the reasoning behind the eight songs he would choose to take with him if stranded on a desert island, host Lauren Laverne asked what fatherhood was like for the 50-year-old musician following the death of his former partner.

“What kind of dad are you?” asked Laverne.

“I guess I’m more like their friend,” began Yorke, with a sigh. “I can’t hope to be their mum… but we’re all right. We do quite well.

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“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.

“My ambition is to make sure that we have come out of it all right, and I hope that’s what’s happening.”

Thom Yorke, from Britain, performs on the stage of the Auditorium Stravinski during the 53rd Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), in Montreux, Switzerland, July 4, 2019.

Thom Yorke, from Britain, performs on the stage of the Auditorium Stravinski during the 53rd Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), in Montreux, Switzerland, July 4, 2019.

Valentin Flauraud / EPA

The Creep rocker continued to admire his children with a few laughs.

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

Yorke admitted that despite the circumstances of Owen’s death, he felt lucky having his current girlfriend, Dajana Roncione, by his side to lighten the emotional load.

READ MORE: Thom Yorke announces solo North American fall tour

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Thom Yorke (L) and Dajana Roncione arrive for the premiere of 'Suspiria' during the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, Sept. 1, 2018.

Thom Yorke (L) and Dajana Roncione arrive for the premiere of 'Suspiria' during the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, Sept. 1, 2018.

Claudio Onorati / EPA

Yorke’s nearly one-hour interview with Laverne can be heard in full through the official BBC website.

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Kicking off this Thursday, in Laval, Que., Yorke — along with Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes — will embark on a 15-date North American solo tour.

Select tickets and additional information can be found through the Waste Headquarters website.

Thom Yorke’s 2019 North American solo tour dates

** All Canadian dates are bolded **

Sept. 26 — Laval, Que. @ Place Bell
Sept. 27 — Toronto, Ont. @ Scotiabank Arena
Sept. 29 — Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Stage AE
Sept. 30 — Columbus, Ohio @ Express Live!
Oct. 4 — Austin, Tex. @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
Oct. 6 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Fox Theatre
Oct. 9 — New Orleans, La. @ Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts
Oct. 11 — Austin, Tex. @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
Oct. 18 — Berkeley, Calif. @ Greek Theatre
Oct. 20 — Seattle, Wash. @ Paramount Theatre
Oct. 21 — Vancouver, B.C. @ Orpheum
Oct. 22 — Portland, Ore. @ The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Oct. 25 — Santa Barbara, Calif. @ Santa Barbara Bowl
Oct. 26 — Las Vegas, Nev. @ The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan
Oct. 29 — Los Angeles, Calif. @ Greek Theatre

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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