Radiohead vs. The Hollies

All of these years I assumed the mysterious, melancholic verse of Radiohead’s “Creep” was a signature sound. The haunting progression was lifted straight off the 1974 Hollies hit The Air That I BreathePablo Honey‘s linear notes credit the original songwriters.

The Hollies - "The Air That I Breathe" (1974)

Radiohead - "Creep" (1992)

Radiohead - "Creep (ending)" (1992)

Update: Radiohead vs. The Hollies vs. Reamonn

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33 Replies to “Radiohead vs. The Hollies”

  1. squishfac3

    these sound nothing alike. one uses chords while the other is individual notes. the singing isnt similar at all. nice try

    1. Damen Stephens

      You are Tone Deaf squishfac3 … so much so that your license to even LISTEN to music should be revoked IMMEDIATELY !!

  2. Thom

    From Wiki: “Radiohead gives songwriting credit to Hammond and Hazelwood in the liner notes for the album Pablo Honey for the song Creep.”

    If you can’t hear the similarity, you’re probably not listening to the right parts of the 2 songs. After the last chorus in Creep, he sings a melody which is identical to the melody used in the verses of the Hollies song.

  3. MarsHottentot

    Always thought these two were similar. I wouldn’t call it a rip off, per se, but “Creep” is undeniably influenced by “The Air That I Breath”. No big deal, that’s how a lot of hits are written: take what people already know and like then put your stamp on it. It’s not even new: How many 60’s songs are “Wild Thing” with different lyrics?

  4. baTonkaTruck

    Radiohead was actually sued by the Hollies’ songwriter(s), successfully, and they now share credit and royalties “Creep,” according to this website:

    “The resulting lawsuit saw royalties and co-authorship granted to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood, who wrote the Hollies song.”

    This reference may be a bit soft, but I’ve heard this from several other sources too (which I now cannot find). I’m sure Radiohead’s management works very hard to keep actual facts about this lawsuit off the web.

    1. Mark Adams

      How petty can someone be, suing over a chord progression? In the jazz world, what is possibly the most common progression is I-vi-ii-V-I, known as the ‘Rhythm changes’ because it comes from I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin. Composers such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk all used it because V (the dominant) clearly leads on to I and ii is the dominant of V, with vi being the dominant of ii (secondary dominants), making this a logical progression.
      A chord progression can be used in such different contexts. There are also plenty of four chord songs, the progression to Sweet Home Alabama is also a common one and would anyone try suing over the use of 12-bar blues, or any other kind of blues, even if it is their own variant?

  5. richRR

    radiohead “karma police”/ beatles “sexy sadie” (white album)
    killing joke “eighties”/ nirvana “come as you are”
    led zeppelin ” travelling riverside blues”/ stone temple pilots “interstate love song” ( IMO, even the titles are similar.)

  6. magadog

    well all you doubters i walked into my local co-op the other day and the radio was on (you know the piped through the shop one) and being a bit of a radiohead fan i thought “oh theres creep on” i admit as i was looking for stuff in the shop i was only half listening but when the guy started singing i thought “hold up whats this” now i knew the song name but wasnt quite sure it was the hollies and i remember thinking to myself how have i never noticed that they sound so similar. i thought id go online today and see if i could find the written music to see how similar it was and lo and behold i find this site with other people saying the same thing (woo hoo im not going insane) i play guitar and there is definatley some of the same chords in both songs and to whoever wrote chords and notes different things and all that well a chord is a collection of notes played to produce a certain sound ie a C or an F which is in itself a NOTE ya follow? as Bob Spreen says LISTEN to it the notes and the chords on both and you will see the light my friens as for the singing i agree that IS different but thats not what we’re all saying its the music that sounds the same ok folks thanks for listening rant over byeeeee

  7. Cosine

    For all of the people out there saying that the two are nothing alike… listen to the Hollies clip above again, only DO NOT try to compare it to the clip right under… just replace (in your mind) the words he sings with “sheeeeeeee’s Running all alooooooooooone” and you will hear.

  8. Qunibrog95zeltran

    Radiohead is still better and the song has a completely different meaning. Different enough for me.

  9. Cobi

    When I heard the Hollies song on the radio I thought “wait a minute… this is the same melody as Creep!” Everyone who doesn’t hear the similarities, just listen to the acoustic version of ‘creep’, (released on the EP “My iron lung”) then you must hear it, it’s very much the same melodie, both chords and singing!

  10. Ted

    The first time I heard Creep in ’92 or 93 I thought “where have I heard this before; something from riding around in my parents’ station wagon in the 70’s”. (I am too old to rock & roll…..). After about a year of driving myself crazy each time I heard it, I saw a late-night ad for a 70’s hits compilation with the Hollies original version and the mystery in my head was solved. If you have any sense of melody, you will recognize the sincerest flattery right away, especially if you know the original. Both are great songs, though, and the Radiohead interpretation is sublime and sans fromage compared to the Hollies’.

  11. Sam

    Is it any wonder why Thom Yorke ended up hating Creep? It was ‘cus of The Hollies taking action against him for the song because of the similarities between them that not everyone can hear. Not to mention the song was making them a “One hit wonder” band which Thom didn’t want at all.
    I feel more sorry for Thom than The Hollies.

  12. skulls

    Creep is a total ripoff of The Hollies track, but then Radiohead are a very derivative band. I’ve known the boys since school, long before they were called Radiohead or On A Friday, and they have always “borrowed” their “songs”.

  13. ztoi

    radiohead went on to cover “nobody does it better” by carly simon. I’m not sure if they started playing that song in response to the hollies lawsuit, since they have they same chord progression but in another key, or if the carly simon song inspired creep by radiohead which the hollies ended up suing radiohead over. kinda funny. look up the nobody does it better cover. same exact chords as creep.

  14. Mike goodwin

    Why would the Hollies sue Radiohead? They didn’t write the song and were not the first to record it.


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