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Nick Drake
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Nick Drake

Nick Drake (June 19 1948 - November 25 1974) was a folk musician and composer whose work, though held in high esteem by critics and musicians, hardly sold in his lifetime. However, none of his albums have been deleted and have all been remastered and re-released, including the successful 'best of' Way To Blue.

Drake released only a few albums in his brief lifetime - Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972). Five Leaves Left consisted of mainly acoustic guitar with some orchestration as well as double bass and drums. Bryter Layter introduced a more commercial jazzy sound, with horns, keyboards, etc. Pink Moon, recorded in two two-hour sessions, both starting at midnight, used only guitar and vocals with a piano overdub on the title track - it is widely thought to be his best work. After recording the album, Drake stated, "I have nothing else to say."

Brought up in the small Warwickshire village of Tanworth-in-Arden, he went to public school in Marlborough, before going on to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to read English. He dropped out with nine months to go to pursue his music career.

He died in 1974, apparently the result of taking too many antidepressants, which he took to help him sleep. The current postulation is that his death was accidental, as antidepressants of that time were quite lethal if ingested in any higher dosage than the one prescribed. He had struggled throughout his life with sometimes overpowering depression, so suicide is also thought possible.

Extremely sensitive and chronically shy, Drake was uncomfortable on stage and performed infrequently. It has been suggested he suffered from social anxiety disorder. The few concerts he did play were usually in support of other British folk acts of the time, such as Fairport Convention and John Martyn.

Nick was famous for his use of unusual guitar tunings and his virtuoso right hand finger-picking technique. However, he is probably best known by the public today, for television commercials featuring his music, most notably by Volkswagen.

Drake has been an inspiration for contemporary musicians, including Elliott Smith, Sebadoh's Lou Barlow, REM guitarist Peter Buck and Graham Coxon from Blur. John Martyn wrote the title song of his Album, Solid Air, for, and about, Nick Drake.

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