|Height:||191 cm (6' 4'')|
|Birth Day:||June 19, 1948|
|Height:||191 cm (6' 4'')|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
He broke the 100-yard dash record and played rugby at his high school.
In 1957, Drake was sent to Eagle House School, a preparatory boarding school near Sandhurst, Berkshire. Five years later, he went to Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire attended by his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He developed an interest in sport, becoming an accomplished sprinter over 100 and 200 yards, representing the school's Open Team in 1966. He played rugby for the C1 House team and was appointed a House Captain in his last two terms. School friends recall Drake as having been confident, often aloof, and "quietly authoritative". 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's attention to his studies deteriorated and, although he had accelerated a year in Eagle House, at Marlborough he neglected his studies in favour of music. In 1963 he attained seven GCE O-Levels, fewer than his teachers had been expecting, failing "Physics with Chemistry". In 1965, Drake paid £13 (equivalent to £254 in 2019) for his first acoustic guitar, a Levin, and was soon experimenting with open tuning and finger-picking techniques.
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 and vocals, the group performed Pye International R&B covers and jazz standards, as well as Yardbirds and Manfred Mann songs. Chris de Burgh asked to join the band, but was rejected as his taste was "too poppy".
In 1966, Drake enrolled at a tutorial college in Five Ways, Birmingham, where he won a scholarship to study at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He delayed attendance to spend six months at the University of Aix-Marseille, France, beginning in February 1967, where he began to practise guitar in earnest. To earn money, he would busk with friends in the town centre. Drake began to smoke cannabis, and he travelled with friends to Morocco; according to travelling companion Richard Charkin, "that was where you got the best pot". He most likely began using LSD while in Aix, and lyrics written during this period—in particular for "Clothes of Sand"— suggest an interest in hallucinogens.
Drake returned to England in 1967 and moved into his sister's flat in Hampstead, London. That October, he enrolled at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University to study English Literature. His tutors found him bright but unenthusiastic and unwilling to apply himself. His biographer, Trevor Dann, notes that he had difficulty connecting with staff and fellow students, and that matriculation photographs from this time portray a sullen young man. Cambridge placed emphasis on its rugby and cricket teams, but by this time Drake had lost interest in sport, preferring to stay in his college room smoking cannabis and playing music. According to fellow student Brian Wells, "they were the rugger buggers and we were the cool people smoking dope".
In September 1967, Drake met Robert Kirby, a music student who went on to write 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 scenes, and was influenced by performers such as Bob Dylan, Donovan, Van Morrison, Josh White and Phil Ochs. He began performing in local clubs and coffee houses around London, and in February 1968, while playing support to Country Joe and the Fish at the Roundhouse in Camden Town, made an impression on Ashley Hutchings, bass player with Fairport Convention. Hutchings recalls being impressed by Drake's guitar skill, but even more so by his image: "He looked like a star. He looked wonderful, he seemed to be 7 ft [tall]."
Hutchings introduced Drake to the 25-year-old American producer Joe Boyd, owner of the production and management company Witchseason Productions. The company was, at the time, licensed to Island Records, and Boyd, who had discovered Fairport Convention and introduced John Martyn 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 Boyd acted as a mentor to Drake throughout his career. Impressed by a four-track demo recorded in Drake's college room in early 1968, Boyd offered Drake a management, publishing, and production contract. According to Boyd:
Drake recorded his debut album Five Leaves Left later in 1968, with Boyd as producer. He had to skip lectures to travel by train to the sessions in Sound Techniques studio, London. Inspired by John Simon's production of Leonard Cohen's album Songs of Leonard Cohen, Boyd was keen that Drake's voice would be recorded in a similar close and intimate style, "with no shiny pop reverb". He 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 scene, including Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson and Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson (no relation).
Drake ended his studies at Cambridge nine months before graduation and in late 1969 moved to London. 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 London drifting from place to place, occasionally staying at his sister's Kensington 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 in Belsize Park, Camden.
On 5 August 1969, Drake recorded five songs for the BBC's John Peel show ("Cello Song", "Three Hours", "River Man", "Time of No Reply" and an early version of "Bryter Layter"), three of which were broadcast the following night. A month later, on 24 September, he opened for Fairport Convention at the Royal Festival Hall in London, followed by appearances at folk clubs in Birmingham and Hull. Folk singer Michael Chapman said of the performances:
Bryter Layter was a commercial failure, and reviews were again mixed; Record Mirror praised Drake as a "beautiful guitarist—clean and with perfect timing, [and] accompanied by soft, beautiful arrangements", but Melody Maker described the album as "an awkward mix of folk and cocktail jazz". Soon after its release, Boyd sold Witchseason to Island Records and moved to Los Angeles to work with Warner Brothers to develop film soundtracks. The loss of his mentor, coupled with the album's poor sales, led Drake into further 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 Technical College, Surrey. Ralph McTell, who also performed that night, remembered: "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."
In 1971, Drake's family persuaded him to visit a psychiatrist at St Thomas's Hospital, London. He was prescribed antidepressants, but felt uncomfortable and embarrassed about taking them, and tried to hide the fact from his friends. He worried about their side effects and was concerned about how they would react with his regular cannabis use. Island Records urged Drake to promote Bryter Layter through interviews, radio sessions and live appearances. Drake, who by this time was smoking what Kirby described as "unbelievable amounts" of cannabis and exhibiting "the first signs of psychosis", refused. 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. According to photographer Keith Morris by 1971 Drake was a "hunched, dishevelled figure, staring vacantly...ignoring the overtures of a friendly labrador or gazing blankly over Hampstead Heath." His sister recalled: "This was a very bad time. 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. Sessions took place over two nights, with only Drake and Wood present in the studio. The bleak songs of Pink Moon 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 resulted in a sound that was "too full, too elaborate". Drake appears on Pink Moon accompanied only by his own carefully recorded guitar save for a piano overdub on the title track. Wood later said: "He was very determined to make this very stark, bare record. He definitely wanted it to be him more than anything. And I think, in some ways, Pink Moon is probably more like Nick is than the other two records."
John Martyn (who in 1973 wrote the title song of his album Solid Air about Drake) described Drake in this period as the most withdrawn person he had ever met. He would borrow his mother's car and drive for hours without purpose, until he ran out of petrol and had to ring his parents to ask to be collected. Friends recalled the extent to which his appearance had changed. During particularly bleak periods, he refused to wash his hair or cut his nails. Early in 1972, Drake had a nervous breakdown, and was hospitalized for five weeks. He was initially believed to suffer from major depression, although his former therapist suggested he was suffering from schizophrenia.
In February 1973, Drake 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. The initial session was followed by recordings in July 1974. In his 2006 autobiography, Boyd 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." Boyd and Wood noticed a 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 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."
By late 1974, Drake's weekly retainer from Island had ceased, and his severe depression meant he remained in contact with only a few close friends. He had tried to stay in touch with Sophia Ryde, whom he had 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 used the description "best (girl) friend". In a 2005 interview, Ryde said 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." As with the relationship he had shared with fellow folk musician Linda Thompson, Drake's relationship with Ryde was never consummated.
On 2 December 1974, after a service in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Tanworth-in-Arden, Drake's remains were cremated at Solihull Crematorium and his ashes interred under an oak tree in the church's graveyard. The funeral was attended by around fifty mourners, including friends from Marlborough, Aix, Cambridge, London, Witchseason, and Tanworth. Referring to Drake's tendency to compartmentalise relationships, Brian Wells observed that many met each other for the first time that morning. His mother recalled "a lot of his young friends came up here. We'd never met many of them."
Boyd recalled that Drake's parents had described his mood in the preceding weeks as positive, and that he had planned to move back to London to restart his music career. Boyd believes that this uplift in spirits was followed by a "crash back into despair". Reasoning that Drake may have taken a high dosage of antidepressants 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 journalist Nick Kent commented 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 said "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: for it to be a plea for help that nobody hears."
At the inquest in December, the coroner stated that the cause of death was "Acute amitriptyline poisoning—self-administered when suffering from a depressive illness", and concluded a verdict of suicide. Although the verdict has been disputed by some of his friends and members of his family, there is a widely held 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 said he had been "worried about Nick being so depressed. We used to hide away the aspirin and pills and things like that."
There were no documentaries or compilation albums in the wake of Drake's death. His public profile remained low throughout the 1970s, although his name appeared occasionally in the music press. By this time, his parents were receiving an increasing number of fans at the family home. Island Records, following a 1975 NME article written by Nick Kent, stated they had no plans of repackaging Drake's albums, but in 1979 Rob Partridge joined Island Records as press officer and commissioned the release of the Fruit Tree box set. The release compiled the three studio albums, the four tracks recorded with Wood in 1974, and an extensive biography written by the American journalist Arthur Lubow. Although sales were poor, Island Records did not delete the albums from its catalogue.
By the mid-1980s, Drake was being cited as an influence by musicians such as Kate Bush, Paul Weller, the Black Crowes, Peter Buck of R.E.M., and Robert Smith of the Cure. The Cure's name derives from 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's hit single "Life in a Northern Town", which included a dedication to Drake on its sleeve. In 1986, a biography of Drake was published in Danish; it was translated, updated with new interviews, and published in English in February 2012. Drake's reputation continued to grow, and by the end of the 1980s, his name was appearing regularly in newspapers and music magazines in the UK; he had come to represent a "doomed romantic hero".
In 1994, Rolling Stone journalist Paul Evans said Drake's music "throbs with [an] aching beauty" similar to the 1968 Van Morrison album Astral Weeks. According to AllMusic critic Richie Unterberger, Drake was a "singular talent" who "produced several albums of chilling, somber beauty", now "recognized as peak achievements of both the British folk-rock scene and the entire rock singer/songwriter genre". Unterberger felt that Drake's following spanned generations "in the manner of the young Romantic poets of the 19th century who died before their time ... Baby boomers who missed him the first time around found much to revisit once they discovered him, and his pensive loneliness speaks directly to contemporary alternative rockers who share his sense of morose alienation."
On 20 June 1998, BBC Radio 2 broadcast a documentary, Fruit Tree: The Nick Drake Story, featuring interviews with Boyd, Wood, Gabrielle and Molly Drake, Paul Wheeler, Robert Kirby and Ashley Hutchings, and narrated by Danny Thompson. In early 1999, BBC Two aired a 40-minute documentary, A Stranger Among Us—In Search of Nick Drake. The following year, Dutch director Jeroen Berkvens released the documentary A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake, featuring interviews with Boyd, Gabrielle Drake, Wood and Kirby. Later that year, The Guardian placed Bryter Layter number one in its "Alternative Top 100 Albums Ever" list.
In 1999, "Pink Moon" was used in a Volkswagen commercial, boosting Drake's US album sales from about 6,000 copies in 1999 to 74,000 in 2000. The LA Times saw it as an example of how, following the consolidation of US radio stations, previously unknown music was finding audiences through advertising. Fans used the filesharing software Napster to circulate digital copies of Drake's music; according to the Atlantic, "The chronic shyness and mental illness that made it hard for Drake to compete with 1970s showmen like Elton John and David Bowie didn't matter when his songs were being pulled one by one out of the ether and played late at night in a dorm room." In the following years, Drake's songs appeared in soundtracks of "quirky, youthful" films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, Serendipity, and Garden State. Made to Love Magic, an album of outtakes and remixes released by Island Records in 2004, far exceeded Drake's lifetime sales. In November 2014, Gabrielle published a biography of Drake.
Drake received little critical success during his lifetime, but has since been widely acclaimed. Based on professional rankings of his albums and songs, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists him as the 101st most acclaimed recording artist in history. Rolling Stone included all three of his albums on its 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. On 4 April 2018, he was inducted into the Folk Hall of Fame at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Robert Christgau wrote in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981): "I'm not inclined to revere suicides. But Drake's jazzy folk-pop is admired by a lot of people who have no use for Kenny Rankin, and I prefer to leave open the possibility that he's yet another English mystic (romantic?) I'm too set in my ways to hear." In 2019, Christgau conceded this was a "fairly audacious" appraisal and wrote: "Drake is admired and beloved by many, so many that I'm sure he was an artist of real originality and, for many, appeal ... Although there've been a few exceptions, I've never been attracted to hypersensitives or depressives, and Drake is both."
Nick has a sister named Gabrielle.
Currently, Nick Drake is 74 years, 5 months and 15 days old. Nick Drake will celebrate 75th birthday on a Monday 19th of June 2023. Below we countdown to Nick Drake upcoming birthday.
Nick Drake 70th Birthday Tribute @ Whelan’s in Dublin, Ireland
On what would have been Nick Drake’s 70th birthday, the I Heart Houseband will take to Whelan’s main stage with some very special guests to perform songs from Drake’s 3 seminal albums. …
r/Music - June 19 is Nick Drake's 69th Birthday ...Pink Moon, Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter are considered to be among the best folk-rock albums ever made. He did not become well known until after his death. Tragically, he suffered from depression and he took his own life
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