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Nick Drake

Nick Drake

Overview
Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician. Though he is best known for his sombre guitar based songs, Drake was also proficient at piano, clarinet and saxophone. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, his work gradually achieved wider notice and recognition; he now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years.
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Quotations

Saw it written and i saw it say Pink moon is on its way And none of you stand so tall Pink moon's gonna get ye all.

Pink Moon

Fame is but a fruit tree- so very unsound. It can never flourish 'till its stock is in the ground.

Fruit Tree

Life is but a memory Happened long ago. Theatre full of sadness For a long forgotten show.

Fruit Tree

Please give me a second grace

Fly

I just need your star for a day.

Fly

For some there's a future to find. But I think they're leaving me behind.

Leaving Me Behind

And I was strong, strong in the sun I thought I'd see when day is done. Now I'm weaker than the palest blue Oh, so weak in the need for you.

Place to Be

When the day is done,Down to earth then sets the sun,Along with everything that was lost and won,When the day is done.

Day Is Done
Encyclopedia
Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician. Though he is best known for his sombre guitar based songs, Drake was also proficient at piano, clarinet and saxophone. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, his work gradually achieved wider notice and recognition; he now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. Drake signed to Island Records
Island Records
Island Records is a record label that was founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica. It was based in the United Kingdom for many years and is now owned by Universal Music Group...

 when he was 20 years old and released his debut album, Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left, recorded in 1969, was the first of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Bryter Layter but unlike Pink Moon, this album contains no completely solo songs...

, in 1969. By 1972, he had recorded two more albums—Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter, recorded in 1970, was the second of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Five Leaves Left, the album contains no unaccompanied songs: Drake was accompanied by part of the British folk rock group Fairport Convention and John Cale from The Velvet Underground, as well...

 and Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.-Album...

. None sold more than 5,000 copies on their initial release.

His reluctance to perform live or be interviewed contributed to his lack of commercial success. Yet he was able to gather a loyal group of influential fans who would champion his music, including his manager, Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd is an American record producer and former owner of the Witchseason production company. Boyd was instrumental in launching the careers of Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band.-Career:...

, who had a clause put into his own contract with Island Records to ensure Drake's records would never be put out of print. Drake suffered from depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 and insomnia
Insomnia
Insomnia is most often defined by an individual's report of sleeping difficulties. While the term is sometimes used in sleep literature to describe a disorder demonstrated by polysomnographic evidence of disturbed sleep, insomnia is often defined as a positive response to either of two questions:...

 throughout his life, and these topics were often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. There is no known footage of the adult Drake; he was only ever captured in still photographs and in home footage from his childhood. On 25 November 1974, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline
Amitriptyline
Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant . It is the most widely used TCA and has at least equal efficacy against depression as the newer class of SSRIs...

, a prescribed antidepressant
Antidepressant
An antidepressant is a psychiatric medication used to alleviate mood disorders, such as major depression and dysthymia and anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder. According to Gelder, Mayou &*Geddes people with a depressive illness will experience a therapeutic effect to their mood;...

; he was 26 years old.

Drake's music remained available through the mid-1970s but the 1979 release of the retrospective album Fruit Tree
Fruit Tree (Nick Drake album)
Fruit Tree is a box set by English singer/songwriter Nick Drake. It now exists in several versions, all of which feature his three studio albums, plus additional material.-1979 Release:...

 caused his back catalogue to be reassessed. By the mid-1980s Drake was being credited as an influence by such artists as Robert Smith
Robert Smith (musician)
Robert James Smith is an English musician. He is the lead singer, guitar player and principal songwriter of the rock band The Cure, and its only constant member since its founding in 1976...

, David Sylvian
David Sylvian
David Sylvian is an English singer-songwriter and musician who came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead vocalist and main songwriter in the group Japan...

 and Peter Buck
Peter Buck
Peter Lawrence Buck , is an American rock guitarist who is best known for playing in and co-founding alternative rock band R.E.M....

. In 1985, The Dream Academy
The Dream Academy
The Dream Academy was a folk rock band from England, comprising singer/guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes; multi-instrumentalist Kate St John; plus keyboardist Gilbert Gabriel. They are most noted for their hit single, "Life in a Northern Town".-History:Laird-Clowes and Gabriel met each other in the late...

 reached the UK and US charts with "Life in a Northern Town
Life in a Northern Town
"Life in a Northern Town" is a pop song by The Dream Academy, an English dream pop group. The song is the first single from their 1985 self-titled debut, The Dream Academy. Reaching #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1986, it is also their highest-peaking chart single in the US...

", a song written for and dedicated to Drake. By the early 1990s, he had come to represent a certain type of 'doomed romantic' musician in the UK music press, and was frequently cited by artists including Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic vocal style have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years.In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush topped the UK Singles Chart...

, Paul Weller and The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes are an American rock band formed in 1989. Their discography includes nine studio albums, four live albums and several charting singles. The band was signed to Def American Recordings in 1989 by producer George Drakoulias and released their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, the...

.
His first biography appeared in 1997, was followed in 1998 by the documentary film A Stranger Among Us. In 2000, Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

 featured the title track from Pink Moon in a television advertisement, and within a month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous 30 years.

Early life


Nicholas Rodney Drake was born on 19 June 1948, into an upper middle-class English family living in Rangoon
Yangon
Yangon is a former capital of Burma and the capital of Yangon Region . Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country's largest city and the most important commercial...

, Burma
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

. His father Rodney (1908–1988), had moved there in the early 1930s to work as an engineer with the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation
Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation
The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited was formed in 1863 by the Wallace Brothers. The Corporation was originally formed as a public company to engage in the Burmese tea business by taking over the assets in Burma of William Wallace...

. In 1934, Rodney met the daughter of a senior member of the Indian Civil Service, Mary Lloyd (1916–1993), known to her family as Molly. Rodney proposed in 1936, though the couple had to wait a year until Molly turned 21 before her family allowed them to marry. In 1950, they returned to Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

 to live in the country estate of Far Leys, near Tanworth-in-Arden
Tanworth-in-Arden
Tanworth-in-Arden is a small village located in the county of Warwickshire, England. It is located south-east of Birmingham in the Tanworth-in-Arden parish and is administered by Stratford-on-Avon District Council...

 in west Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, just south of Solihull
Solihull
Solihull is a town in the West Midlands of England with a population of 94,753. It is a part of the West Midlands conurbation and is located 9 miles southeast of Birmingham city centre...

. Drake had one older sister, Gabrielle
Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake is a British actress who was born in Lahore, British India and lived in several Far Eastern countries .-Career:...

, later a successful film and TV actress. Both parents were musically inclined, and they each wrote pieces of music. In particular, recordings of Molly's songs which have come to light following her death are remarkably similar in tone and outlook to the later work of her son. Mother and son shared a similar fragile vocal delivery, and both Gabrielle and biographer Trevor Dann
Trevor Dann
Trevor Dann is a British writer and broadcaster who has been associated with some of the most influential radio and television pop music programmes and events of the last 30 years.-Early career:...

 have noted a parallel sense of foreboding and fatalism
Fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

 in their music. Encouraged by his mother, Drake learned to play piano at an early age, and began to compose his own songs, which he would record on a reel-to-reel tape recorder
Reel-to-reel audio tape recording
Reel-to-reel, open reel tape recording is the form of magnetic tape audio recording in which the recording medium is held on a reel, rather than being securely contained within a cassette....

 she kept in the family drawing room.

In 1957, Drake enrolled at Eagle House School
Eagle House School
Eagle House School is a preparatory school near Sandhurst in Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1820, and is still functional today. Eagle House School caters for male and female children of age 3 to the age of 13....

, an English preparatory boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 in Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

. Five years later, he went on to public school
Public School (UK)
A public school, in common British usage, is a school that is neither administered nor financed by the state or from taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees and charitable contributions, usually existing as a non profit-making charitable trust...

 at Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College is a British co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils, located in Marlborough, Wiltshire.Founded in 1843 for the education of the sons of Church of England clergy, the school now accepts both boys and girls of all beliefs. Currently there are just over 800...

 in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all attended. He developed an interest in sport, becoming an accomplished sprinter (his record for the 100-yard dash
100-yard dash
The 100 yard dash is a track and field event of 100 yards or 91.44 metres. It was part of the Commonwealth Games until 1966, and was included in the decathlon of the Olympics, at least in 1904. It is not generally used in international events...

 still stands) and captain of the school's rugby
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

 team for a time. He was also Head of House in C1, the College's largest house. School friends recall Drake at this time as having been confident and "quietly authoritative", while often aloof in his manner. His father Rodney remembered, "In one of his reports [the headmaster] said that none of us seemed to know him very well. All the way through with Nick. People didn't know him very much."

Drake played piano in the school orchestra, and learned clarinet and saxophone. He formed a band, The Perfumed Gardeners, with four schoolmates in 1964 or 1965. With Drake on piano and occasional alto sax
Alto saxophone
The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in 1841. It is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano, and is the type most used in classical compositions...

 and vocals, the group performed Pye
Pye Records
Pye Records was a British record label. In its first incarnation, perhaps Pye's best known artists were Lonnie Donegan , Petula Clark , The Searchers , The Kinks , Sandie Shaw and Brotherhood of Man...

 covers and jazz standards, as well as Yardbirds and Manfred Mann
Manfred Mann
Manfred Mann was a British beat, rhythm and blues and pop band of the 1960s, named after their South African keyboardist, Manfred Mann, who later led the successful 1970s group Manfred Mann's Earth Band...

 numbers. The line-up briefly included Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh is a British/Irish singer-songwriter. He is most famous for his 1986 love song "The Lady in Red".-Early life:...

, but he was soon ejected as his taste was seen as "too poppy" by the other members. Drake's academic performance began to deteriorate, and while he had accelerated a year in Eagle House, at Marlborough he began to neglect his studies in favour of music. He attained seven GCE O-Levels
General Certificate of Education
The General Certificate of Education or GCE is an academic qualification that examination boards in the United Kingdom and a few of the Commonwealth countries, notably Sri Lanka, confer to students. The GCE traditionally comprised two levels: the Ordinary Level and the Advanced Level...

 in 1963, but this was fewer than his teachers had been expecting, and he failed "Physics with Chemistry". In 1965, Drake paid £13 for his first acoustic guitar, and was soon experimenting with open tuning and finger-picking techniques.

In 1966, Drake won a scholarship to study English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. He delayed attendance to spend six months at the University of Aix-Marseille, France, beginning in February 1967. While in Aix, he began to practice guitar in earnest, and to earn money would often busk
Busking
Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities, which are generally in the form of money and edibles...

 with friends in the town centre. Drake began to smoke cannabis
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

, and that spring he travelled with friends to Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, because, according to travelling companion Richard Charkin, "that was where you got the best pot". Drake most likely began using LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

 while in Aix, and lyrics written during this period—in particular for the song "Clothes of Sand"—are suggestive of an interest in hallucinogen
Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants
This general group of pharmacological agents can be divided into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. These classes of psychoactive drugs have in common that they can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness...

s.

Cambridge


Upon returning to England, he moved into his sister's flat in Hampstead
Hampstead
Hampstead is an area of London, England, north-west of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland...

, before enrolling at Cambridge that October. His tutors found him to be a bright student, but unenthusiastic and unwilling to apply himself to study. Dann notes that he had difficulty connecting with staff and fellow students alike, and points out that official matriculation photographs from this time reveal a sullen and unimpressed young man. Cambridge placed much emphasis on its rugby and cricket teams, yet by this time Drake had lost interest in playing sport, preferring to stay in his college room smoking marijuana, and listening to and playing music. According to fellow student (now psychiatrist) Brian Wells: "they were the rugger buggers and we were the cool people smoking dope." In September 1967, he met Robert Kirby
Robert Kirby
Robert Kirby was a British born arranger of string sections for rock and folk music. He is best known for his work on the Nick Drake albums, Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter, but has also worked with Elton John, Ralph McTell, Strawbs, Paul Weller and Elvis Costello.-At Cambridge:Patrick...

, a music student who went on to orchestrate many of the string and woodwind arrangements for Drake's first two albums. By this time, Drake had discovered the British and American folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 scenes, and was influenced by performers such as Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

 and Phil Ochs
Phil Ochs
Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice...

. He began performing in local clubs and coffee houses around London, and in February 1968, while playing support to Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish was a rock band most widely known for musical protests against the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1971, and also regarded as a seminal influence to psychedelic rock.-History:...

 at the Roundhouse in Camden Town
Camden Town
-Economy:In recent years, entertainment-related businesses and a Holiday Inn have moved into the area. A number of retail and food chain outlets have replaced independent shops driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants have thrived, with the variety of culinary traditions found in...

, made an impression on Ashley Hutchings
Ashley Hutchings
Ashley Stephen Hutchings is an English bassist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, band leader, writer and record producer. He was a founder member of three of the most noteworthy English folk-rock bands in the history of the genre; Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Albion Band...

, bass player with Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention are an English folk rock and later electric folk band, formed in 1967 who are still recording and touring today. They are widely regarded as the most important single group in the English folk rock movement...

. Hutchings recalls being impressed by Drake's skill as a guitarist, but even more so by "the image. He looked like a star. He looked wonderful, he seemed to be 7 ft."

Hutchings introduced Drake to the 25-year old American producer Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd is an American record producer and former owner of the Witchseason production company. Boyd was instrumental in launching the careers of Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band.-Career:...

, owner of the production and management company Witchseason Productions. The company was, at the time, licensed to Island Records
Island Records
Island Records is a record label that was founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica. It was based in the United Kingdom for many years and is now owned by Universal Music Group...

, and Boyd, as the man who had discovered Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention are an English folk rock and later electric folk band, formed in 1967 who are still recording and touring today. They are widely regarded as the most important single group in the English folk rock movement...

 and been responsible for introducing John Martyn
John Martyn
John Martyn, OBE , born Iain David McGeachy, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a forty-year career he released twenty studio albums, working with artists such as Eric Clapton and David Gilmour...

 and The Incredible String Band to a mainstream audience, was a significant and respected figure on the UK folk scene. He and Drake formed an immediate bond, and the producer acted as a mentor
Mentor
In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcimus or Anchialus. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus' foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus' palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.When Athena visited Telemachus she...

 figure to Drake throughout his career. A four track demo, recorded in Drake's college room in the spring of 1968, led Boyd to offer a management, publishing, and production contract to the 20-year old, and to initiate work on a debut album. According to Boyd:
In those days you didn't have cassettes—he brought a reel-to-reel tape [to me] that he'd done at home. Half way through the first song, I felt this was pretty special. And I called him up, and he came back in, and we talked, and I just said, 'I'd like to make a record.' He stammered, 'Oh, well, yeah. Okay.' Nick was a man of few words.
In a 2004 interview, Drake's friend Paul Wheeler remembered the excitement caused by his seeming big break, and recalled that the singer had already decided not to complete his third year at Cambridge.

Five Leaves Left


Drake began recording his debut album Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left, recorded in 1969, was the first of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Bryter Layter but unlike Pink Moon, this album contains no completely solo songs...

 later in 1968, with Boyd assuming the role of producer. The sessions took place in Sound Techniques studio
Sound Techniques (studio)
Sound Techniques was a popular London recording studio at 46a Old Church Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 founded in December 1964. The premises were originally built as a dairy. It quickly became one of the top independently-owned studios in England. In 1976 the original location in Old Church Street...

, London, with Drake skipping lectures to travel by train to the capital. Inspired by John Simon
John Simon (record producer)
John Simon is an American musician, record producer, and composer. He is best known for his work with The Band as producer and musician on Music from Big Pink and The Band.-Biography:...

's production of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen, is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships...

's first album, Boyd was keen that Drake's voice would be recorded in a similar close and intimate style, "with no shiny pop reverb
Reverberation
Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is removed. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air...

". He also sought to include a string arrangement similar to Simon's, "without overwhelming... or sounding cheesy". To provide backing, Boyd enlisted various contacts from the London folk rock
Folk rock
Folk rock is a musical genre combining elements of folk music and rock music. In its earliest and narrowest sense, the term referred to a genre that arose in the United States and the UK around the mid-1960s...

 scene, including Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson and Pentangle
Pentangle (band)
Pentangle are a British folk rock band with some folk jazz influences. The original band were active in the late 1960s and early 1970s and a later version has been active since the early 1980s...

 bassist Danny Thompson
Danny Thompson
Daniel Henry Edward 'Danny' Thompson is an English multi-instrumentalist best known as a double bassist and businessman...

 (no relation). He recruited John Wood
John Wood (music producer)
John Wood is an English sound engineer and producer, best known for his work with Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Cat Stevens, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, Nico and Squeeze.-Career:...

 as engineer, and drafted Richard Hewson in to provide the string arrangements.

Initial recordings did not go well; the sessions were irregular and rushed, taking place during studio downtime borrowed from Fairport Convention's production of their Unhalfbricking
Unhalfbricking
The band's male vocalist Iain Matthews left during the recordings for Unhalfbricking to make his own album Matthews' Southern Comfort, after recording just one track, "Percy's Song". Sandy Denny sang lead vocals on all the other songs, including her own compositions, "Autopsy", and "Who Knows Where...

 album. Tension arose between artist and producer as to the direction the album should take; Boyd was an advocate of George Martin
George Martin
Sir George Henry Martin CBE is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"— a title that he often describes as "nonsense," but the fact remains that he served as producer on all but one of The Beatles' original albums...

's "using the studio as an instrument" approach, while Drake preferred a more organic sound. Dann has observed that Drake appears "tight and anxious" on bootleg recordings taken from the sessions, and notes a number of Boyd's unsuccessful attempts at instrumentation. Both were unhappy with Hewson's contribution, which they felt was too mainstream in sound for Drake's songs. Drake suggested using his college friend Robert Kirby as a replacement, although Boyd was sceptical at taking on an amateur music student lacking prior recording experience. However, he was impressed by Drake's uncharacteristic assertiveness, and agreed to a trial. Kirby had previously presented Drake with some arrangements for his songs, and went on to provide a spare chamber music
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

 quartet score associated with the sound of the final album. However, Kirby did not feel confident enough to score the album's centerpiece "River Man
River Man
"River Man" is the second listed song from Nick Drake's 1969 album Five Leaves Left, remastered and released as a single in 2004. According to Drake's manager, Joe Boyd, Drake thought of the song as the centre piece of the album....

", and Boyd was forced to stretch the Witchseason budget to hire the veteran composer Harry Robinson, with the instruction that he echo the tone of Delius
Frederick Delius
Frederick Theodore Albert Delius, CH was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family of German extraction, he resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce...

 and Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

.
Post-production
Post-production
Post-production is part of filmmaking and the video production process. It occurs in the making of motion pictures, television programs, radio programs, advertising, audio recordings, photography, and digital art...

 difficulties led to the release being delayed by several months. It has been alleged that the album was poorly marketed and supported, though the inclusion of the opening track "Time Has Told Me" on the Island Records sampler
Sampler (album)
Sampler is a compilation album by the English rock band Cardiacs, released in 1995.The album was intended as a budget introduction to the band's music, and was released as part of the general 1995 reissue of the Cardiacs back catalogue. Each track is taken from a different album in the reissue series...

 Nice Enough to Eat
Nice Enough to Eat
Nice Enough To Eat is a budget priced sampler album released by Island Records in 1969.Continuing the policy set by its predecessor You Can All Join In, the album presented tracks from the latest albums by established artists including Free, Traffic, and Jethro Tull, and introduced tasters from...

 brought him a very wide audience (a track from his second album was likewise included on the subsequent sampler Bumpers
Bumpers (album)
Bumpers was a double sampler album from Island Records, released in Europe and Australasia in 1970; there were minor variations in track listings within Europe but the Australian release was fundamentally different...

). Drake was featured in full-page interviews in the pop press. In July, Melody Maker
Melody Maker
Melody Maker, published in the United Kingdom, was, according to its publisher IPC Media, the world's oldest weekly music newspaper. It was founded in 1926 as a magazine targeted at musicians; in 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.-1950s–1960s:Originally the Melody...

 referred to the album as "poetic" and "interesting", though NME
NME
The New Musical Express is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles...

 wrote in October that there was "not nearly enough variety to make it entertaining". It received radio plays from the BBC's more progressive disk-jockeys such as John Peel
John Peel
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE , known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004...

 and Bob Harris
Bob Harris (radio)
Robert Brinley Joseph "Bob" Harris, OBE , known as "Whispering" Bob Harris, is British radio host who currently works for BBC Radio 2, presenting music two nights a week...

. Drake was unhappy with the inlay sleeve, which printed songs in the wrong running order and reproduced verses omitted from the recorded versions. In an interview his sister Gabrielle
Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake is a British actress who was born in Lahore, British India and lived in several Far Eastern countries .-Career:...

 said: "He was very secretive. I knew he was making an album but I didn't know what stage of completion it was at until he walked into my room and said, 'There you are.' He threw it onto the bed and walked out!"

Bryter Layter


Drake ended his studies at Cambridge nine months before graduation, and in autumn 1969 moved to London to concentrate on a career in music. His father remembered "writing him long letters, pointing out the disadvantages of going away from Cambridge...a degree was a safety net, if you manage to get a degree, at least you have something to fall back on; his reply to that was that a safety net was the one thing he did not want." Drake spent his first few months in the capital drifting from place to place, occasionally staying at his sister's Kensington
Kensington
Kensington is a district of west and central London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Street, and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.To the north, Kensington is...

 flat, but usually sleeping on friends’ sofas and floors. Eventually, in an attempt to bring some stability and a telephone into Drake's life, Boyd organised and paid for a ground floor bedsit
Bedsit
A bedsit, also known as a bed-sitting room, is a form of rented accommodation common in Great Britain and Ireland consisting of a single room and shared bathroom; they are part of a legal category of dwellings referred to as Houses in multiple occupation....

 in Belsize Park
Belsize Park
Belsize Park is an area of north-west London, England, in the London Borough of Camden.It is located north-west of Charing Cross and situated on the Northern Line. It borders Hampstead to the north and west, Kentish Town and Gospel Oak to the east, Camden Town to the south east and Primrose Hill...

, Camden
London Borough of Camden
In 1801, the civil parishes that form the modern borough were already developed and had a total population of 96,795. This continued to rise swiftly throughout the 19th century, as the district became built up; reaching 270,197 in the middle of the century...

.

In August, Drake recorded three songs for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's John Peel show
John Peel
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE , known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004...

. Two months later, he opened for Fairport Convention at the Royal Festival Hall in London, followed by appearances at folk clubs in Birmingham and Hull. Remembering the performance in Hull, folk singer Michael Chapman commented:
The folkies did not take to him; [they] wanted songs with choruses. They completely missed the point. He didn't say a word the entire evening. It was actually quite painful to watch. I don't know what the audience expected, I mean, they must have known they weren't going to get sea–shanties and sing-alongs at a Nick Drake gig!
The experience reinforced Drake's decision to retreat from live appearances; the few concerts he did play around this time were usually brief, awkward, and poorly attended. Drake seemed unwilling to perform and rarely addressed his audience. As many of his songs were played in different tunings, he frequently paused to retune between numbers.
Although the publicity generated by Five Leaves Left was minor, Boyd was keen to build on what momentum there was. 1970's Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter, recorded in 1970, was the second of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Five Leaves Left, the album contains no unaccompanied songs: Drake was accompanied by part of the British folk rock group Fairport Convention and John Cale from The Velvet Underground, as well...

, again produced by Boyd and engineered by Wood, introduced a more upbeat, jazzier sound. Disappointed by his debut's poor commercial performance, Drake sought to move away from his pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 sound, and agreed to his producer's suggestions to include bass and drum tracks on the recordings. "It was more of a pop sound, I suppose", Boyd later said, "I imagined it as more commercial." Like its predecessor, the album featured musicians from Fairport Convention, as well as contributions from John Cale
John Cale
John Davies Cale, OBE is a Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground....

 on two songs: "Northern Sky
Northern Sky
Northern Sky is a song from Nick Drake's 1970 album Bryter Layter. The song, written in DADGDG tuning, features piano, organ and celesta, performed by former Velvet Underground member, John Cale....

" and "Fly". Trevor Dann has noted that while sections of "Northern Sky" sound more characteristic of Cale, the song was the closest Drake came to a release with chart potential. In his 1999 biography, Cale admits to using heroin during this period, and his older friend Brian Wells began to suspect that Drake was also using. Both Boyd and Wood were confident that the album would be a commercial success, but it went on to sell fewer than 3,000 copies. Reviews were again mixed: while Record Mirror
Record Mirror
Record Mirror was a British weekly pop music newspaper, founded by Isadore Green and featured, news articles, interviews, record charts, record reviews, concert reviews, letters from readers and photographs. The paper became respected by both mainstream pop music fans and serious record collectors...

 praised Drake as a "beautiful guitarist—clean and with perfect timing, [and] accompanied by soft, beautiful arrangements", Melody Maker
Melody Maker
Melody Maker, published in the United Kingdom, was, according to its publisher IPC Media, the world's oldest weekly music newspaper. It was founded in 1926 as a magazine targeted at musicians; in 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.-1950s–1960s:Originally the Melody...

 described the album as "an awkward mix of folk and cocktail jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

".

Soon after the release, Boyd sold Witchseason to Island Records, and moved to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 to work with Warner Brothers in the development of soundtracks for film. The loss of this key mentor figure, coupled with the album's poor sales, led Drake to further retreat into depression. His attitude to London had changed: he was unhappy living alone, and visibly nervous and uncomfortable performing at a series of concerts in early 1970. In June, Drake gave one of his final live appearances at Ewell
Ewell
Ewell is a village in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, close to the southern boundary of Greater London. It is located 14 miles south-south-west of Charing Cross and forms part of the suburbia that surrounds Greater London. Despite its growing population it is still referred to as a...

 Technical College, London. Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell is an English singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player who has been an influential figure on the UK folk music scene since the 1960s....

, who also performed that night remembered that "Nick was monosyllabic. At that particular gig he was very shy. He did the first set and something awful must have happened. He was doing his song 'Fruit Tree' and walked off halfway through it. Just left the stage." His frustration turned to depression, and in 1971 Drake was persuaded by family to visit a psychiatrist
Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. All psychiatrists are trained in diagnostic evaluation and in psychotherapy...

 at St Thomas's Hospital, London. He was prescribed a course of antidepressants, but he felt uncomfortable and embarrassed about taking them, and tried to hide the fact from his friends. He knew enough about drugs to worry about their side effects, and was concerned about how they would react with his regular marijuana use.

Pink Moon


Island Records was keen that Drake promote Bryter Layter through press interviews, radio sessions and live appearances. Drake, who was by this time smoking what Kirby has described as "unbelievable amounts" of marijuana and exhibiting "the first signs of psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

", refused. By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London. Disappointed by the reaction to Bryter Layter, he turned his thoughts inwards, and withdrew from family and friends. He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs. "This was a very bad time", his sister Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake is a British actress who was born in Lahore, British India and lived in several Far Eastern countries .-Career:...

 recalled, "He once said to me that everything started to go wrong from [this] time on, and I think that was when things started to go wrong."

Although Island neither expected nor wanted a third album, Drake approached Wood in October 1971 to begin work on what would be his final release. The sessions took place over two nights, with only Drake and Wood present in the studio. The bleak songs of Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.-Album...

 are short, and the eleven-track album lasts only 28 minutes, a length described by Wood as "just about right. You really wouldn't want it to be any longer." Drake had expressed dissatisfaction with the sound of Bryter Layter, and believed that the string, brass and saxophone arrangements had resulted in a sound that was "too full, too elaborate". Drake appears on Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.-Album...

 accompanied only by his own carefully recorded guitar save for a single piano overdub on the title track. "He was very determined to make this very stark, bare record," Wood later recalled. "He definitely wanted it to be him more than anything. And I think, in some ways, Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.-Album...

 is probably more like Nick is than the other two records."

Drake delivered the tapes of Pink Moon to Chris Blackwell
Chris Blackwell
Christopher Percy Gordon "Chris" Blackwell is a British record producer and businessman, who was the founder of Island Records, acknowledged as the most successful and groundbreaking independent record company in history. Blackwell has been a music industry mogul for over fifty years...

 at Island Records, contrary to a popular legend which claims he dropped them off at the receptionist's desk without saying a word. An advertisement for the album placed in Melody Maker in February opened with "Pink Moon—Nick Drake's latest album: the first we heard of it was when it was finished." Pink Moon went on to sell fewer copies than either of its predecessors, although it did receive some favourable reviews. In Zigzag magazine, Connor McKnight wrote, "Nick Drake is an artist who never fakes. The album makes no concession to the theory that music should be escapist. It's simply one musician's view of life at the time, and you can't ask for more than that."

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell
Chris Blackwell
Christopher Percy Gordon "Chris" Blackwell is a British record producer and businessman, who was the founder of Island Records, acknowledged as the most successful and groundbreaking independent record company in history. Blackwell has been a music industry mogul for over fifty years...

 felt Pink Moon had the potential to bring Drake to a mainstream audience; however his staff were disappointed by the artist's unwillingness to undertake any promotional activity. A&R
A&R
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label.- Finding talent :...

 manager Muff Winwood recalls "tearing his hair out" in frustration, and admits that without Blackwell's enthusiastic support, "the rest of us would have given him the boot." However, following persistent nagging from Boyd, Drake agreed to an interview with Jerry Gilbert of Sounds Magazine. The "shy and introverted folk singer" spoke of his dislike of live appearances and very little else. "There wasn't any connection whatsoever", Gilbert has said. "I don't think he made eye contact with me once. If you wanted to be uncharitable, you could say he was just a spoiled boy with a silver spoon and went around feeling sorry for himself." Disheartened and convinced he would be unable to write again, Drake decided to retire from music. He toyed with the idea of a different career, even considering the Army.

Final years


In the months following Pink Moons release, Drake became increasingly asocial and distant from those close to him. He returned to live at his parents' home in Far Leys, and while he resented the regression, he accepted that his illness made it necessary. "I don't like it at home", he told his mother, "but I can't bear it anywhere else." His return was often difficult for his family; as his sister Gabrielle explained, "good days in my parents' home were good days for Nick, and bad days were bad days for Nick. And that was what their life revolved around, really."
He lived a frugal existence, his only source of income being a £20-a-week retainer he received from Island Records. At one point he could not afford a new pair of shoes. He would often disappear for days, sometimes turning up unannounced at friends' houses, uncommunicative and withdrawn. Robert Kirby described a typical visit: "He would arrive and not talk, sit down, listen to music, have a smoke, have a drink, sleep there the night, and two or three days later he wasn't there, he'd be gone. And three months later he'd be back."

Referring to this period, John Martyn
John Martyn
John Martyn, OBE , born Iain David McGeachy, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a forty-year career he released twenty studio albums, working with artists such as Eric Clapton and David Gilmour...

 (who in 1973 wrote the title song of his album Solid Air
Solid Air
Solid Air is a folk jazz album released in 1973 by John Martyn on Island Records.Contemporary reviews were favourable with music paper Sounds declaring that Solid Air flows beautifully and shows the entire spectrum of music that John Martyn has at his fingertips." The album has continued to...

 for and about Drake) described him as the most withdrawn person he'd ever met. He would borrow his mother's car and drive for hours without purpose on occasion, until he ran out of petrol and had to ring his parents to ask to be collected. Friends have recalled the extent to which his appearance had changed. During particularly bleak periods of his illness, he refused to wash his hair or cut his nails. Early in 1972, Drake suffered a nervous breakdown
Nervous breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

, and was hospitalised for five weeks.

In February 1974, Drake again contacted John Wood, stating he was ready to begin work on a fourth album. Boyd was in England at the time, and agreed to attend the recordings. This initial session was followed by further recordings in July. In his 2006 autobiography, the producer recalled being taken aback at Drake's anger and bitterness: "[He said that] I had told him he was a genius, and others had concurred. Why wasn't he famous and rich? This rage must have festered beneath that inexpressive exterior for years." Both Boyd and Wood noticed a discernible deterioration in Drake's performance, requiring him to overdub his voice separately over the guitar. However, the return to Sound Techniques studio raised Drake's spirits; his mother later recalled, "We were so absolutely thrilled to think that Nick was happy because there hadn't been any happiness in Nick's life for years."

Death


By autumn 1974, Drake's weekly retainer from Island had ceased, and his illness meant he remained in contact with only a few close friends. He had tried to stay in touch with Sophia Ryde, whom he had first met in London in 1968. Ryde has been described by Drake's biographers as "the nearest thing" to a girlfriend in his life, but she now prefers the description 'best (girl) friend'. In a 2005 interview, Ryde revealed that a week before he died, she had sought to end the relationship: "I couldn’t cope with it. I asked him for some time. And I never saw him again." Similar to the relationship Drake had earlier shared with fellow folk musician Linda Thompson
Linda Thompson (singer)
Linda Thompson is a British singer. Born Linda Pettifer in Hackney, Thompson became one of the most recognised names—and voices—in the British folk rock movement of the 1970s and 1980s, in collaboration with her former husband and fellow British folk rock musician, guitarist Richard...

, Drake's relationship with Ryde was never consummated.

At some time during the night of 24/25 November 1974, Nick Drake died at home in Far Leys from an overdose of amitriptyline
Amitriptyline
Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant . It is the most widely used TCA and has at least equal efficacy against depression as the newer class of SSRIs...

, a type of antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressants are heterocyclic chemical compounds used primarily as antidepressants. The TCAs were first discovered in the early 1950s and were subsequently introduced later in the decade; they are named after their chemical structure, which contains three rings of atoms...

. He had gone to bed early the night before, after spending the afternoon visiting a friend. His mother stated that, around dawn, he left his room for the kitchen. His family was used to hearing him do this many times before but, during this instance, he did not make a sound. They presumed that he was eating a bowl of cereal. He returned to his room a short while later, and took some pills "to help him sleep". Drake was accustomed to keeping his own hours; he frequently had difficulty sleeping, and would often stay up through the night playing and listening to music, then sleeping late into the following morning. Recalling the events of that night, his mother later stated: "I never used to disturb him at all. But it was about 12 o’clock, and I went in, because really it seemed it was time he got up. And he was lying across the bed. The first thing I saw was his long, long legs." There was no suicide note
Suicide note
A suicide note or death note is a message that states the author has died by suicide, and left to be discovered and read in anticipation of suicide....

, although a letter addressed to Ryde was found close to his bed.
At the inquest that December, Drake's coroner stated that the cause of death was as a result of "Acute amitriptyline
Amitriptyline
Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant . It is the most widely used TCA and has at least equal efficacy against depression as the newer class of SSRIs...

 poisoning—self-administered when suffering from a depressive illness", and concluded a verdict of suicide. Though this has been disputed by some members of his family, there is a general view that accidental or not, Drake had by then given up on life. Rodney described his son's death as unexpected and extraordinary; however, in a 1979 interview he admitted to "always [being] worried about Nick being so depressed. We used to hide away the aspirin and pills and things like that." Boyd has stated that he prefers to believe the overdose was accidental. He recalled that Drake's parents had described his mood in the preceding weeks as having been very positive, and that he had planned to move back to London to restart his music career. Boyd believes that this levity was followed by a "crash back into despair". Reasoning that Drake may have taken a high dosage of his antidepressants in order to recapture this sense of optimism, he said he prefers to imagine Drake "making a desperate lunge for life rather than a calculated surrender to death". Writing in 1975, NME
NME
The New Musical Express is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles...

 journalist Nick Kent
Nick Kent
Nick Kent is a British rock critic and musician.-Career:Along with writers including Paul Morley, Charles Shaar Murray and Danny Baker, Nick Kent is seen as one of the most important and influential UK music journalists of the 1970s. He wrote for the British music publication New Musical Express,...

 comments on the irony of Drake's death at a time when he had just begun to regain a sense of "personal balance". In contrast, Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake
Gabrielle Drake is a British actress who was born in Lahore, British India and lived in several Far Eastern countries .-Career:...

 has said she prefers to think Drake committed suicide, "in the sense that I'd rather he died because he wanted to end it than it to be the result of a tragic mistake. That would seem to me to be terrible..."

On 2 December 1974, after a service in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Tanworth-in-Arden, Drake's remains were cremated at the Solihull
Solihull
Solihull is a town in the West Midlands of England with a population of 94,753. It is a part of the West Midlands conurbation and is located 9 miles southeast of Birmingham city centre...

 Crematorium and his ashes later interred under an oak tree in the adjoining graveyard of St Mary's. The funeral was attended by around 50 mourners, including friends from Marlborough, Aix, Cambridge, London, Witchseason, and Tanworth. Referring to Drake's tendency to compartmentalise relationships, Brian Wells later observed that many met each other for the first time that morning. Molly recalled "a lot of his young friends came up here. We'd never met many of them."

Posthumous popularity


There were no documentaries or compilation albums in the wake of Drake's death. His public profile remained low throughout the mid and late 1970s although occasional mentions of his name appeared in the music press. By this time, his parents were receiving an increasing number of fans and admirers as visitors to the family home in Far Leys. Island Records, following a 1975 NME article written by Nick Kent, stated "...we have no intention of repackaging Nick's three albums (which remained available), either now or at anytime in the foreseeable future" but in 1979 Rob Partridge joined Island Records as press officer and commissioned the release of the Fruit Tree
Fruit Tree (Nick Drake album)
Fruit Tree is a box set by English singer/songwriter Nick Drake. It now exists in several versions, all of which feature his three studio albums, plus additional material.-1979 Release:...

 box set. Partridge was a fan of Drake's, and had seen him perform early in 1969: "The first thing I did when I got to Island was suggest we put together a retrospective—the studio albums plus whatever else was there. I wasn't necessarily expecting massive vaults with millions of tunes, live recordings or whatever, but there was very little..." The release brought together the three studio albums as well as the four tracks recorded with Wood in 1974 and was accompanied by an extensive biography written by the American journalist Arthur Lubow
Arthur Lubow
Arthur Lubow is an American journalist best known for his 1992 biography The Reporter Who Would Be King: A Biography of Richard Harding Davis , and as a writer for The New York Times Magazine....

. However, sales were poor and the album received little press notice; in 1983 Island deleted Fruit Tree from its catalogue.

By the mid 1980s Drake was being cited as an influence by musicians such as R.E.M.
R.E.M.
R.E.M. was an American rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. gained early attention due to Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's...

's Peter Buck
Peter Buck
Peter Lawrence Buck , is an American rock guitarist who is best known for playing in and co-founding alternative rock band R.E.M....

 and Robert Smith
Robert Smith (musician)
Robert James Smith is an English musician. He is the lead singer, guitar player and principal songwriter of the rock band The Cure, and its only constant member since its founding in 1976...

 of The Cure
The Cure
The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with frontman, vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member...

. Smith credited the origin of his band's name to a lyric from Drake's song "Time Has Told Me" ("a troubled cure for a troubled mind"). Drake gained further exposure in 1985 with the release of The Dream Academy
The Dream Academy
The Dream Academy was a folk rock band from England, comprising singer/guitarist Nick Laird-Clowes; multi-instrumentalist Kate St John; plus keyboardist Gilbert Gabriel. They are most noted for their hit single, "Life in a Northern Town".-History:Laird-Clowes and Gabriel met each other in the late...

's hit single "Life in a Northern Town
Life in a Northern Town
"Life in a Northern Town" is a pop song by The Dream Academy, an English dream pop group. The song is the first single from their 1985 self-titled debut, The Dream Academy. Reaching #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1986, it is also their highest-peaking chart single in the US...

", which included an on-sleeve dedication to Drake. By 1986 the very first biography of Nick Drake was published (in Danish). His reputation continued to grow, and by the end of the 1980s, Nick Drake's name was appearing regularly in newspapers and music magazines in the United Kingdom: he had come to represent a kind of mythical doomed romantic hero in the eyes of many, an "enigma wrapped inside a mystery".

In 1999, Pink Moon was used in "Milky Way", a Volkswagen Cabriolet
Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is a small family car manufactured by Volkswagen since 1974 and marketed worldwide across six generations, in various body configurations and under various nameplates – as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United States and Canada , and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexico .The...

 commercial, leading to a large increase in record sales.

In early 1999, BBC2
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 aired a 40-minute documentary, A Stranger Among Us — In Search of Nick Drake, as part of its Picture This strand. The following year, Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 director Jeroen Berkvens released a documentary titled A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake, featuring interviews with Boyd, Gabrielle Drake, Wood and Kirby. Later that year, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 placed Bryter Layter at number 1 in its "Alternative top 100 albums ever" list. In recent years, several musicians, including Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams is an American rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter. She recorded her first albums in 1978 and 1980 in a traditional country and blues style and received very little attention from radio, the media, or the public. In 1988, she released her self-titled album,...

, Badly Drawn Boy
Badly Drawn Boy
Damon Gough is an English alternative music singer/songwriter. He was born on 2 October 1969, in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. He grew up in the Breightmet area of Bolton, Lancashire, England....

, Lou Barlow
Lou Barlow
Louis Knox Barlow is an American alternative rock musician and songwriter. A founding member of the groups Deep Wound, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion. Barlow is credited with helping to pioneer the lo-fi style of rock music in the late 1980s and early 1990s...

 and Mikael Åkerfeldt
Mikael Åkerfeldt
Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt is a Swedish musician who achieved fame as the lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of progressive death metal band Opeth as well as the lead vocalist of death metal band Bloodbath. He was the vocalist and guitarist for the band Sörskogen and the guitarist of the band Steel...

 have cited Drake as an influence. In 2004, nearly 30 years after his death, Drake gained his first chart placing when two singles ("Magic
Magic (Nick Drake song)
"Magic" is the second listed song from Nick Drake's 2004 compilation album Made to Love Magic and was remastered and released as a single in 2004...

" and "River Man
River Man
"River Man" is the second listed song from Nick Drake's 1969 album Five Leaves Left, remastered and released as a single in 2004. According to Drake's manager, Joe Boyd, Drake thought of the song as the centre piece of the album....

"), released to coincide with the compilation album Made to Love Magic, made the middle reaches of the U.K. charts. Later that year, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 aired a radio documentary about Drake, narrated by Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt
William Bradley "Brad" Pitt is an American actor and film producer. Pitt has received two Academy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one...

.

Musical and lyrical style


Drake was obsessive about practising his guitar technique, and would often stay up through the night experimenting with tunings and working on songs. His mother remembered hearing him "bumping around at all hours. I think he wrote his nicest melodies in the early-morning hours." Self-taught, he achieved his guitar style through the use of alternative tunings
Scordatura
A scordatura , also called cross-tuning, is an alternative tuning used for the open strings of a string instrument, in which the notes indicated in the score would represent the finger position as if played in regular tuning, while the actual pitch is altered...

 to create cluster chords
Tone cluster
A tone cluster is a musical chord comprising at least three consecutive tones in a scale. Prototypical tone clusters are based on the chromatic scale, and are separated by semitones. For instance, three adjacent piano keys struck simultaneously produce a tone cluster...

. These are difficult to achieve on a guitar using standard tuning
Standard tuning
In music, standard tuning refers to the typical tuning of a string instrument. This notion is contrary to that of scordatura, i.e. an alternate tuning designated to modify either the timbre or technical capabilities of the desired instrument.-Bowed strings:...

; Drake used tunings which made cluster chords available using more conventional chord shapes. In many songs he accents the dissonant effect of such non-standard tunings through his vocal melodies.

Drake studied English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 in Cambridge and was particularly drawn to the works of William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

, William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...

 and Henry Vaughan
Henry Vaughan
Henry Vaughan was a Welsh physician and metaphysical poet.Vaughan and his twin brother the hermetic philosopher and alchemist Thomas Vaughan, were the sons of Thomas Vaughan and his wife Denise of 'Trenewydd', Newton, in Brecknockshire, Wales...

, and lyrics reflect such influences. Drake also employs a series of elemental symbols and codes, largely drawn from nature. The moon, stars, sea, rain, trees, sky, mist and seasons are all commonly used, influenced in part by his rural upbringing. Images related to summer figure centrally in his early work; from Bryter Layter on, his language is more autumnal, evoking a season commonly used to convey senses of loss and sorrow. Throughout, Drake writes with detachment, more as an observer than participant, a point of view Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis
Anthony DeCurtis
Anthony DeCurtis is an American author and music critic, who has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Relix and other publications.-Career:...

 described "as if he were viewing his life from a great, unbridgeable distance." This perceived inability to connect has led to much speculation about Drake's sexuality. Boyd has said he detects a virginal quality in his lyrics and music, and notes that he never observed or heard of the singer behaving in a sexual way with anyone, male or female. Kirby described Drake's lyrics as a "series of extremely vivid, complete observations, almost like a series of epigrammatic proverbs", though he doubts that Drake saw himself as
"any sort of poet". Instead he believes that Drake's lyrics were crafted to "complement and compound a mood that the melody dictates in the first place."

Discography


Release date Title
1969 Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left
Five Leaves Left, recorded in 1969, was the first of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Bryter Layter but unlike Pink Moon, this album contains no completely solo songs...

1970 Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter
Bryter Layter, recorded in 1970, was the second of three albums by British folk musician Nick Drake. Like Five Leaves Left, the album contains no unaccompanied songs: Drake was accompanied by part of the British folk rock group Fairport Convention and John Cale from The Velvet Underground, as well...

1972 Pink Moon
Pink Moon
Pink Moon is the third and final album by English musician Nick Drake. It was recorded at midnight in two separate two-hour sessions, over two days in October 1971, featuring only Nick Drake's vocals and guitar, as well as some piano later overdubbed by Drake on the title track.-Album...


Sources

  • Boyd, Joe
    Joe Boyd
    Joe Boyd is an American record producer and former owner of the Witchseason production company. Boyd was instrumental in launching the careers of Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band.-Career:...

     (2006). White Bicycles – Making Music in the 1960s, Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-910-0
  • Cale, John
    John Cale
    John Davies Cale, OBE is a Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground....

     (1999). What's Welsh for Zen, Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-4383-6
  • Chartier, Henry (2008). "Nick Drake : l'abécédaire", Le Bord de l'eau (in French) ISBN 978-2-35687-002-5
  • Dann, Trevor
    Trevor Dann
    Trevor Dann is a British writer and broadcaster who has been associated with some of the most influential radio and television pop music programmes and events of the last 30 years.-Early career:...

     (2006). Darker Than the Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake, Da Capo Press. London. 2006. ISBN 0-306-81520-6
  • De Angelis, Paola (2007). "Journey to the Stars — I testi di Nick Drake", Arcana Editrice (in Italian)
  • Drake, Nick: Under Review DVD (2007) ASIN: B000TV4PZG
  • Hogan, Peter K (2008)Nick Drake: The Complete Guide to His Music.
  • Humphries, Patrick (1997). Nick Drake: The Biography, Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 1-58234-035-8
  • Petrusich, Amanda (2007) 33 1/3 Nick Drake's Pink Moon. ISBN 978-0-8264-2790-8
  • Rasmussen, Gorm Henrik
    Gorm Henrik Rasmussen
    Gorm Henrik Rasmussen is a Danish poet who wrote the first biography about the guitarist and singer-songwriter Nick Drake, Pink Moon . The book is based upon interviews Gorm Henrik Rasmussen made with Nick Drake's parents, Rodney and Molly Drake, in their home in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire,...

    (1986). Pink Moon — Sangeren og guitaristen Nick Drake, (in Danish), Forlaget Hovedland.
  • Various sources (2003). Way to Blue: an Introduction to Nick Drake , Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8179-5
  • Various sources (2003). The Nick Drake Song Collection, Music Sales. ISBN 0-7119-4464-4

External links