Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 19 June '48, Burma; d 25 Nov. '74) Singer, songwriter of UK folk revival. Family returned to England c'55; he played reeds in school, switched to guitar at 16, soon began writing songs; heard while attending Cambridge by Ashley Hutchings, then with Fairport Convention; recommended to Joe Boyd (manager of Fairport, John Martyn, etc) who signed him to Island. Debut LP Five Leaves Left '69 drew comparisons with Van Morrison's Astral Weeks '68: dark, brooding, jazz- tinged introspection took on a bit more warmth in Bryter Layter '70, incl. backing from John Cale, Fairport members Richard Thompson, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks; but his introversion/depression deepened: stopped performing live (which he always dreaded), underwent some psychiatric treatment; went to Paris to write songs for singer Fran‡oise Hardy (allegedly recorded but unreleased); soon returned home. Last LP Pink Moon '72 accompanied only by his own guitar; tapes sent to Island by post. Quit songwriting and singing but started writing again; Boyd, Island boss Chris Blackwell and prod. John Wood tried to give support, but he died at parents' home of overdose of anti-depressant medication. His work is still influential; 'Life In A Northern Town' by Dream Academy '85 dedicated to him; renewed interest led to compilation Heaven In A Wild Flower '85; Time Of No Reply '86 incl. alternate takes, previously unreleased tracks, incl. in three- CD compilation Fruit Tree. Way To Blue: An Introduction To Nick Drake is another compilation, incl. all the guests on Bryter Layter and then some. Biography Nick Drake '97 by Patrick Humphries was highly praised.