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Nick Drake
Nick Drake
Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt presents a special documentary telling the story of cult English singer-songwriter Nick Drake.
NICK DRAKE - UNDER THE INFLUENCE

It's an oft repeated cliché that only 500 people (or something similarly insignificant) bought the first Velvet Underground album, but all of them went out and formed a band. The same may not be true of Nick Drake, but as his cult reputation has grown, so has the number of artists citing him as an influence on their own music.

The first major re-appraisal of Drake's work came with the release of the Fruit Tree box set, containing all three of his original albums, in 1979. This was a largely unprecedented move for an artist so obscure, and was a testament to producer Joe Boyd's continued faith in Drake's work - when he sold his Witchseason Production company to Island Records in the early 70s a precondition was that Drake's albums would never be deleted.

Peter Buck
Above: Peter Buck, an early champion
The albums gradually accumulated a small but dedicated band of admirers, including REM guitarist Peter Buck and ex-Television guitarist Tom Verlaine. In the UK, ex-Duran Duran member Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy called his band The Lilac Time after a line in Drake's song River Man. Dream Academy's Life in a Northern Town was dedicated to Drake, even as his albums continued to sell to an ever growing band of devotees who cherished his work like a family heirloom.

By the turn of the 90s Drake was being cited as an influence by artists as diverse as country rocker Lucinda Williams, Robyn Hitchcock and Mark Eitzel of American Music Club. However, actual covers of Drake's songs remained thin on the ground, apart from the fabled acetate of Drake songs recorded by Elton John as publishing demos in 1969 shortly before finding fame in his own right. Original copies are extremely rare - when Elton sold his mammoth record collection for charity in the 80s, the copy of him singing Drake's songs was one of the only records he kept.

Paul Weller
Above: Paul Weller's Wild Wood was inspired by Drake
The release of Island Record's Way to Blue compilation in 1994 was met with rave reviews, while Drake was rapidly becoming the hip name to drop. Paul Weller was introduced to Drake's music by his mates in Ocean Colour Scene, and the mellow pastoral vibe of his 1994 comeback album Wild Wood was directly inspired by it. Latterly, artists such as Turin Brakes, Kings of Convenience and Kathryn Williams have all come in for Drake comparisons, not always justified, as did Belle and Sebastian, largely thanks to Stuart Murdoch's breathy vocals. Perhaps the best known fan is Badly Drawn Boy, whose Hour of the Bewilderbeast album bore the unmistakable mark of Drake's influence. Norah Jones has also recorded a cover version of Nick's song Day is Done - listen to a clip of it here.

Drake's latter day renaissance has also been fuelled by television programmes, radio documentaries, numerous articles and a fine biography by Patrick Humphries. But perhaps the strangest appearance of this quintessentially cult artist was in 2000, when Volkswagen used Pink Moon in a US commercial, introducing thousands of new fans to Drake's music for the first time.

Mick Fitzsimmons

LINKS

Nick Drake Biography
Nick's life story and discography, including sound clips from his albums.

Nick Drake on BBC4
Information about BBC 4's Nick Drake documentary, A Skin Too Few.
The Nick Drake Files
One of the first and most comprehensive sources of information about Nick, though it is only sporadically updated these days.

Nick Drake.com
Not, as you might think, an official site, but contains plenty of info, including a useful section for musicians.
  Nick Drake Home
  About the Programme
  Essential Albums
  Nick Drake Influences
  Further Info
  Fan Comments
  R2 Music Home
MORE INFO ON BBC.CO.UK

Made to Love Magic
Read a review of the new album at the BBC's Music website.

Brad Pitt
Why did Brad decide to present the show? Find out here.

Bryter Layter
The full story behind Nick Drake's classic second album from The Critical List.

BBC 4
Information on BBC Four's Nick Drake documentary.


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