Radiohead's Ed O'Brien Believes He Has Coronavirus, But Is Looking For 'Silver Linings'

Ed O’Brien
Andrew Benge/Redferns

Ed O'Brien of Radiohead performs at Emirates Old Trafford on July 4, 2017 in Manchester, England. 

Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, recovering from what he believes is coronavirus, is eager to share his experience and help others during this time of global trepidation.

"I’m getting over it and I’m coming out the other side," he tells Billboard during a call from his home in Wales to discuss his forthcoming EOB solo album Earth, due April 17. "I’m actually really pleased I’ve been in the first wave of people to get it because hopefully I’ve got immunity now and in a couple weeks I can step out in society and be a help, do food deliveries and things like that.

"I want to find a way of connecting people and creating a virtual village; I want to do what I can," says O’Brien, who took to Instagram soon after our call to make his condition public. He did not get tested for COVID-19 because tests aren’t plentifully available in his area, but says he experienced symptoms including fever, aches and temporary loss of smell.

"I want to do some engagement with the fans and say, 'I’ve had coronavirus, I’m still in the throes of it, and these are my symptoms. This is how I’ve felt.' If you’ve had it and you’ve gotten through it, you have almost a responsibility to allay people’s fears and also say how it is. It’s an important time. When I knew I had it, I checked out some reports of people who’d already gone through it, and it was reassuring."

O’Brien, who’s been self-isolating at home with his wife, two children and family friends, is keenly aware of the gravity of the virus for others. "The good news is that for someone like myself that’s fit and healthy, it’s like a bad flu. It’s the infirm I’m worried about. It’s reassuring for you if you’re in good health. It’s not, obviously, if you’re infirm…I’m worried about my parents, like everyone else."

Prior to the proliferation of coronavirus, O’Brien had lined up several months of live shows, including a North American tour in May and June, and other dates throughout the summer.

"I think everything is on hold," he says. "To be honest with you, I’d be really surprised if anything happens before the fall in terms of live music."

He’s scheduled to perform at the Ohana Festival, Sept. 25-27 at Doheny State Park in Dana Point, Calif., on a bill that also includes Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and Maggie Rogers.

O’Brien says he’s been fortifying himself both with vitamins and the markedly slower rhythm of his days. "With all the worries about what is happening, there are some silver linings," he says. "The weather is lovely today, and it’s a time to ponder what the really important things in life are."