Nick Drake

Nick Drake
A mysterious loner who rarely performed in public, Nick Drake is known for his gentle, often brooding songs. While he received little attention during his lifetime, his music has steadily gained a dedicated cult following in the years since his death. He has been compared to such greats as Van Morrison and Donovan, but his uniquely subdued and melancholy music was truly his own.

Drake was born in 1948 and grew up in a small English town. He became interested in the English and American folk music scenes, and as a university student began to perform locally in small coffeehouses and clubs. He released his first album, Five Leaves Left, in 1969. Bryter Later, released a year later, featured a more upbeat, jazzier sound.

Drake was pathologically afraid of touring, and very rarely performed his music. Partly because of his refusal to tour his music was barely noticed by the public, and this only intensified his already severe clinical depression. In 1972, Drake released his final album, Pink Moon. This solo album, with its emotionally bleak lyrics and sparse arrangements is widely believed to be his best work. At the time, however, the album did not sell well. In the last years of his life, Drake's psychiatric difficulties worsened, at one point causing him to be hospitalized for several weeks. He died from an overdose of antidepressant medication on November 26, 1974, in what many speculate was a suicide.

Like so many great artists, Nick Drake died before he got the recognition he deserved. However, his virtuoso guitar playing and captivating voice are now beloved by many fans and fellow musicians.

  • Drake was so shy that even in the privacy of the recording studio, he always sang facing a wall to avoid meeting the eyes of anyone else who happened to be in the room.

  • Many fans believe the lyrics of "Fruit Tree," one of Drake's early songs, foretell his own life story: "Fame is but a fruit tree / So very unsound./ It can never flourish/ Till its stalk is in the ground./ So men of fame/ Can never find a way/ Till time has flown/ Far from their dying day."

  • Among Nick Drake's dedicated fans is Brad Pitt, who narrated a BBC radio documentary about Drake in 2004.

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