I was so proud to be with him.”.  He would disappear for days, sometimes arriving unannounced at friends' houses, uncommunicative and withdrawn. Nick Drake died in the dark. [clarification needed], Drake had been accustomed to keeping his own hours; he frequently had difficulty sleeping and often stayed up through the night playing and listening to music, then slept late into the following morning.  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. His mother remembered hearing him "bumping around at all hours. Born in 1948 in Rangoon, Burma, Nick Drake grew up in England and began playing the guitar at the age of 16. Nick was a man of few words.  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. Wood later said: "He was very determined to make this very stark, bare record.  He was initially believed to suffer from major depression, although his former therapist suggested he was suffering from schizophrenia.  Early in 1972, Drake had a nervous breakdown, and was hospitalized for five weeks. But Gabrielle says she wanted to do more than set the record straight. Strikingly, both parents were accomplished musicians.  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. As well as the only place he could be.” The diaries chronicle the years of Nick’s depression at Far Leys, often uncommunicative, often disappearing without saying a word. Later, that was what Rodney tried to do for Nick.  He sang in the baritone range, often quietly and with little projection. After all, the early 1970s were a time of widespread drug use amongst the rock industry, and the onset of many casualties. It was about 6pm. "I don't think he made eye contact with me once. And that’s good.”, • Nick Drake: Remembered for a While by Gabrielle Drake and Cally Callomon is published by John Murray, £35. Drake's music remained available through the mid-1970s, but the 1979 release of the retrospective album Fruit Tree allowed his back catalogue to be reassessed.  Although Five Leaves Left attracted little publicity, Boyd was keen to build on what momentum there was.  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. On 25 November 1974, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. He had beautiful hands. That image of Nick Drake as too beautiful for this world (like the Van Gogh of Don McLean’s song Starry Starry Night) has proved enduring even if, as Gabrielle tells me, it misses the stubbornness and steel of her brother: “I used to find him incredibly frustrating, obstinate and difficult, but I cannot remember ever not loving him or not admiring him,” she says. People didn't know him very much. It was before the years of Nick’s struggle with depression, which ended on the morning of 25 November 1974, when Molly and Rodney Drake found their 26-year-old son dead after overdosing on antidepressants in his room at their home, Far Leys, in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire. “Dad played these last four songs and it was devastating for everybody. ‘Nick had no outer skin, no defences’ … says Gabrielle. His music brought posthumous fame and a legion of fans still keen to speculate about the details of his life and work. His mother said that around dawn he left his room for the kitchen. , In 1966, Drake enrolled at a tutorial college in Five Ways, Birmingham, where he won a scholarship to study at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He was quite an impediment to their lives too while he was at home, though.”, In the early 1970s, Gabrielle would visit Far Leys in between recording The Brothers at Pebble Mill studios and painfully witness her evidently tortured brother.  Rolling Stone included all three of his albums on its 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Similarly, many of his vocal melodies comfortably rest on the extensions of chords, not just on notes of the triad. Although there've been a few exceptions, I've never been attracted to hypersensitives or depressives, and Drake is both.  His three albums had together sold fewer than 4,000 copies. “I thought that it might just be of use to people going through similar problems. ", Drake lived a frugal existence; his only income was a £20-a-week retainer he received from Island Records (equivalent to £244 in 2019). "Nick Drake : l'abécédaire", Le Bord de l'eau (in French), De Angelis, Paola (2007). And I don’t believe that he could have coped with the adulation of fans for very long. 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. One wanted so much to do something to help, but just didn’t know what to do.”, Does she think Rodney and Molly would mind her publishing their letters and diaries? Trevor Dann 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. He toyed with the idea of a different career, and considered the army. Chris de Burgh asked to join the band, but was rejected as his taste was "too poppy". 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. Mojo Magazine did a Nick Drake profile focusing on his influences and greatest loves and mainstream rock was more or less in third place after folk and classical music. "Black Eyed Dog" from one of Drake's final recording sessions in February 1974. Sometimes dead artists need to be protected from their admirers. ", 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 developed an interest in sport, becoming an accomplished sprinter over 100 and 200 yards, representing the school's Open Team in 1966. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. Pink Moon is the third and final studio album by the English musician Nick Drake, released in the UK by Island Records on 25 February 1972. Gilbert, Jerry. What makes Nick Drake such a mysterious figure is that during his life, he recorded three studio albums that sold no more than 5,000 copies, but now many recording artists such as Robert Smith of The Cure and Peter Buck of REM credit him as influences. “So ends in tragedy our three-year struggle.”, Didn’t she have compunctions about publishing this intimate material? Drake, who by this time was smoking what Kirby described as "unbelievable amounts" of cannabis and exhibiting "the first signs of psychosis", refused. She then plays Molly Drake’s How Wild The Wind Blows and you can definitely hear the resemblance. Thankfully his music has lived on and grown in popularity as well as influenced many more musicians long after Drake's untimely death. The loss of his mentor, coupled with the album's poor sales, led Drake into further depression.  His father Rodney remembered: "In one of his reports [the headmaster] said that none of us seemed to know him very well. Neither sold more than 5,000 copies on initial release. This rage must have festered beneath that inexpressive exterior for years. Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved. He didn't say a word the entire evening. In 1950 Rodney and Molly Drake returned to England with their children Gabrielle and the four years younger Nicholas to settle in a brick house called Far Leys in the rural village of Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire.  Drake appears on Pink Moon accompanied only by his own carefully recorded guitar save for a piano overdub on the title track. 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 releas… " His return was often difficult for his family, as Gabrielle said: "Good days in my parents' home were good days for Nick, and bad days were bad days for Nick. In 1985, The Dream Academy reached the UK and US charts with "Life in a Northern Town", a song written for and dedicated to Drake. 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! 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. ", For the British poet and mystery writer, see, "River Man" is noted for its 5/4 time, harmonic changes and use of. As Gabrielle puts it in the book: “Nick had no outer skin; no defences with which to parlay.”. His tutors found him bright but unenthusiastic and unwilling to apply himself. The piano overdub on "Pink Moon" displays a musicality absent from some of the barer tracks on Drake's final album. ", Robert Christgau wrote in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981): "I'm not inclined to revere suicides. He was wearing a beautiful tweed jacket, which had a slightly high waistband and he looked so beautiful. Some not only identify with her brother but project their woes on to him, I suggest. " Self-taught, he achieved his guitar style through the use of alternative tunings to create cluster chords, which are difficult to achieve on a guitar using standard tuning. Today, Gabrielle is the guardian of the flame. All the way through with Nick.  Both were unhappy with arranger Richard Anthony Hewson's contribution, which they felt was too mainstream for Drake's songs. There were no documentaries or compilation albums in the wake of Drake's death. A deluxe book in every aspect, it … Nick Drake did not lead a colorful life. “We’ve just had the gravestone removed because it’s been rather badly defaced one way and another with people chipping away at it.”, I tell Gabrielle that I once interviewed Oscar Wilde’s grandson, who was pleading with admirers not to cover his grandfather’s tomb in Père Lachaise, Paris, with lipstick kisses because it was damaging the stone. According to fellow student Brian Wells, "they were the rugger buggers and we were the cool people smoking dope". It’s 40 years since Nick Drake died, aged 26. 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".  An advertisement for the album 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. He formed a band, the Perfumed Gardeners, with four schoolmates in 1964 or 1965. He had to skip lectures to travel by train to the sessions in Sound Techniques studio, London. 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. Rodney died in 1988, Molly five years later. His family had heard him do this many times before, and presumed he was eating cereal. By this time, his parents were receiving an increasing number of fans at the family home.  Boyd was in England at the time, and agreed to attend the recordings. She smiles: “Somebody once said they saw someone taking a piece away from Nick’s grave and being thrilled. ", Blackwell felt Pink Moon had the potential to bring Drake to a mainstream audience; however, his staff were disappointed by Drake's unwillingness to promote it. “Far Leys was not only a refuge – it was a prison too,” says Gabrielle.  He returned to live at his parents' home in Tanworth-in-Arden, and while he resented the regression, he accepted that his illness made it necessary.  The funeral was attended by around fifty mourners, including friends from Marlborough, Aix, Cambridge, London, Witchseason, and Tanworth. Molly and Rodney had met in Rangoon before the war. , Drake was obsessive about practising his guitar technique, and would stay up through the night writing and experimenting with alternative tunings. " There was no suicide note, although a letter addressed to Ryde was found close to his bed. " Disheartened and convinced he would be unable to write again, Drake retired from music. It was before Nick became fetishised, the depressives’ pin-up, a posthumous industry. ", 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. Friends recalled the extent to which his appearance had changed. In June, Drake gave one of his final live appearances at Ewell Technical College, Surrey. 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.  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. Parents are Rodney and Mary Lloyd 'Molly' Drake, parents to his sister, Gabrielle Drake. For all the parental fondness evident in the letters to their son (one letter from Rodney to Nick when the latter was chucking in Cambridge to pursue music, you suspect, is all that a child could have wanted from a parent in such circumstances – loving and supportive, despite disagreeing with his decision) and for all that Far Leys was a place of refuge for their son in his depression years that led to his death, they could not save him.  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.  At Boyd's insistence, Drake agreed to an interview with Jerry Gilbert of Sounds Magazine. We’ve just played Five Leaves Left [Nick’s debut album] on the stereo and we think it’s beautiful.’”, After Nick’s death, Gabrielle recalls, she and her husband, Louis de Wet, sat with Molly and Rodney at Far Leys listening to the last songs he recorded, among them the shattering Black Eyed Dog (included on the 1986 posthumous collection Time of No Reply), its imagery recalling Winston Churchill’s description of his own depression as a black dog. He played rugby for the C1 House team and was appointed a House Captain in his last two terms. If it is helping them, then Nick achieved what he set out to do. His public profile remained low throughout the 1970s, although his name appeared occasionally in the music press. I don’t think so.”, He would, perhaps, have found success harder to deal with than what he perceived as his failure. Nick Drake often dropped in; he, Martyn, and Richard Thompson would play in each other’s company, but almost always individually rather than interacting with one another. Though Boyd was sceptical about taking on an inexperienced amateur music student, he was impressed by Drake's uncharacteristic assertiveness, and agreed to a trial. , In 1957, Drake was sent to Eagle House School, a preparatory boarding school near Sandhurst, Berkshire. Drake's second album, Bryter Layter (1971), again produced by Boyd and engineered by John Wood, introduced a more upbeat, jazzier sound. "Journey to the Stars — I testi di Nick Drake", Arcana Editrice (in Italian). The album makes no concession to the theory that music should be escapist. Quoted in Dann (2006), p. 157. Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. Sessions took place over two nights, with only Drake and Wood present in the studio. It’s a beautiful book, certainly, but hard to read because it includes so much hitherto private pain – not just family letters, but Rodney’s diary of his son’s struggle with depression. “I did have compunctions until various publications and articles appeared that have got the story so wrong that I felt that before I pop my clogs I had better get the story straight.”. If Nick Drake was in some way a victim of his time and of the music scene, then so be it. “The worst day of our lives …” it concludes.  His first biography appeared in 1997, followed in 1998 by the documentary film A Stranger Among Us. 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 looked wonderful, he seemed to be 7 ft [tall].".  During particularly bleak periods, he refused to wash his hair or cut his nails. Impressed by a four-track demo recorded in Drake's college room in early 1968, Boyd offered Drake a management, publishing, and production contract. “I think he’d have become more esoteric. Instead, Kirby believes that Drake's lyrics were crafted to "complement and compound a mood that the melody dictates in the first place". To order a copy for £26.99, visit bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Half way through the first song, I felt this was pretty special. Drake's father, Rodney Shuttleworth Drake (1908–1988), moved to Rangoon, Burma, in the early 1930s to work as an engineer with the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. That kind of thing. Nicholas Rodney Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician known for his acoustic guitar-based songs.  He worried about their side effects and was concerned about how they would react with his regular cannabis use. Gabrielle was distressed, for instance, that she was quoted in one report saying her brother died a virgin. You can do everything in your power but you might still fail.”.  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. 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. That October, he enrolled at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University to study English Literature. , In the months following Pink Moon's release, Drake became increasingly asocial and distant. 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