Richard Thompson

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Posted by sonny 03/20/2009 @ 04:14

Tags : richard thompson, folk and folk rock, artists, music, entertainment, athletes, athletics, sports

News headlines
“The solution is to undo the last 35 years, brick by brick.” - Reason Online
Law professor Richard Thompson Ford had a long and very interesting article in yesterday's Boston Globe arguing that the civil rights model is no longer adequate or appropriate to deal with American racial inequality. Here's his pitch: Today's most...
Letter: Who is the school board's special counsel? - Morganton News Herald
Mr. Schwartz represented Superintendent John Thompson in his negotiations with the Clayton County Schools in Georgia. This is the same county which lost its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation. For Mr. Thompson's 14-month...
New Sherborn police chief says 'old way of policing is over' - MetroWest Daily News
Richard Thompson, a Framingham police sergeant and 15-year veteran of that department, promises change. In an interview with selectmen before his selection, Thompson said he would revamp police policies in Sherborn which have not changed since 1977....
Sprinters Shine on Final Day at SEC Outdoors -
Former LSU stars Fabian Muyaba (1993), Chris Cummings (1997), Byron Logan (1998) and Richard Thompson (2008) have also been crowned champion in the event as the Tigers own the last three titles dating back to Holliday's first win in 2007....
No place for fly half Danny Cipriani in England rugby squad - The Canadian Press
LONDON — Forwards Steve Thompson and Ben Kay, two veterans from England's 2003 World Cup triumph, are back in the squad to face Argentina and the Barbarians next month but there is no place for one of the potential stars of the future, Danny Cipriani....
Stryker brigade commander reports on progress in Iraq - Anchorage Daily News
Burdett Thompson told Alaska reporters Monday in a teleconference from Iraq, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry has made progress in coalition efforts to strengthen security and civil society in Diyala, just to the north and east...
Thomson Takes To 'foiling' - ScubaWeb
Richard Thompson from Carafino UK was on board Hugo Boss with Alex last week and was hugely impressed with not only the Open 60, but also with Alex. "What a guy! He has this tremendous confidence with the water you don't see very often and was straight...
England World Cup bid embarrassed by BNP man's presence -
But that would have been more evident had Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's chief executive, attended. His VIP seat remained empty throughout the ceremonies. Another who could not make the event was Geoff Thompson, England's one Fifa...
Two new caps make Red Devils - Marlborough Express
Renwick's Richard Thompson is a surprise inclusion on the bench given that he's hardly played this season due to concussion issues. Harlequins lock Thomas Cretney misses selection and his club-mate and flanker Ryan Pigou was not considered due to...
HISTORY: Prof spots Capone in Wedron pix -
The man who possibly rewarded Thompson on Earth — Capone — followed Thompson into the hereafter three years later, dying in Florida from complications of syphilis. The man who shot the Wedron photo, Ottawa commercial photographer Richard Kuyl,...

Richard Thompson (musician)

Richard Thompson at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005

Richard John Thompson (born 3 April 1949 in Notting Hill, West London) is a British songwriter, guitar player and recording and performing musician.

Thompson is especially well regarded as a guitar player. He was named in the top 20 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 1991 he was awarded the Orville H. Gibson award for best acoustic guitar player.

Thompson's songwriting has been recognised by an Ivor Novello Award and, in 2006, a lifetime achievement award from BBC Radio. Artists who have recorded Thompson compositions include Del McCoury, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, David Gilmour, Mary Black, Elvis Costello, The Corrs, Shawn Colvin, Norma Waterson, Maura O'Connell and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Richard Thompson made his debut as a recording artist as a member of Fairport Convention in September 1967. He continues to write and record new material and performs live frequently throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia.

Richard John Thompson was born in Ladbroke Crescent, Notting Hill, West London, England. His father, a Scot, was by profession a Scotland Yard detective, and an amateur guitar player; several other family members had played music professionally. Whilst still attending William Ellis School in Highgate, he formed his first band "Emil and the Detectives" (named after a book and a movie by the same name) with classmate Hugh Cornwell, later lead singer and guitarist of The Stranglers, on bass guitar.

Although, like so many musicians of his generation, Thompson was exposed to and embraced rock and roll music at an early age, he was also exposed to his father’s collection of jazz and traditional Scottish music. All these various styles were to colour Thompson’s playing in the years to come.

By the age of 18 Thompson was playing with the newly formed Fairport Convention. It was Thompson’s guitar playing that caught the ear of American producer Joe Boyd. Largely on the strength of Thompson’s playing Boyd took them under his wing and signed them to his Witchseason production and management company.

Shortly thereafter Thompson, already acquiring a reputation as an outstanding guitar player, started writing songs seriously. This seems to have been out of necessity — Fairport Convention were essentially a cover band at first.

By the time of Fairport’s second album, recorded and released in early 1969, Thompson was starting to emerge as a songwriter of distinction. As Fairport’s lineup and their sound evolved, Thompson continued to grow in stature as a player and as a songwriter with compositions like "Meet On The Ledge", "Genesis Hall" and "Crazy Man Michael".

In January 1971 Thompson announced that he was leaving Fairport Convention. His decision seems to have been instinctive, rather than a calculated career move.

In April 1972 he released his first solo album Henry the Human Fly. The album sold poorly and was panned by the press, especially the influential Melody Maker magazine. With time Henry has come to be more highly regarded, but at the time the critics' response hurt both Thompson and his career.

By this time Thompson had struck up a relationship with the singer Linda Peters, who had sung on Henry the Human Fly. In October 1972 the couple were married, and Thompson, with Linda now effectively his front woman, regrouped for his next album and the next phase of his career.

The first Richard and Linda Thompson album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, was recorded in May 1973 in short time and on a small budget. Largely because of the petrol shortage in Britain and its impact on the availability of vinyl for records, Bright Lights was held back by Island Records for nearly a year before being released in April 1974. The album was well received by the critics, though sales were less than stellar.

Thompson’s lyrics expressed a rather dismal world view, and it has been suggested that the bleak subject matter of his songs helped to keep his recordings off the hit parade. A more likely explanation was given by ex-Island A&R man Richard Williams in the BBC TV documentary Solitary Life — Thompson was just not interested in fame and its trappings.

The Thompsons recorded two more albums — Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver, both released in 1975 — before Richard Thompson decided to leave the music business. The couple moved to a Sufi commune in East Anglia.

It was not apparent from their records at first, but the Thompsons had embraced an esoteric Sufi strand of Islam in early 1974. I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight was recorded before this conversion, but released sometime afterwards. The songs for the second Richard and Linda album, Hokey Pokey, were similarly written some time ahead of the album's recording and eventual release. It was Pour Down Like Silver, with its cover photo of a turbaned Richard Thompson gazing out at the world, that tipped the public off to the Thompsons' growing preoccupation with their faith.

The trilogy of albums released either side of his sojourn in the commune was heavily influenced by Thompson's beliefs and by Sufi scripture, but in the long run his religious beliefs (he remains a committed Muslim ) have not influenced his work in an obvious manner. The outlook expressed in his songs, his musical style, the subjects addressed by his lyrics have not shown any fundamental change.

At about this time the Thompsons and their family moved out of the commune and back to their old home in Hampstead. Boyd had already invited Richard Thompson to play on Julie Covington’s debut album. With spare studio time and the American session musicians hired to work on the Covington album available, the Thompsons went back into the studio to record under their own name for the first time in three years.

The resulting album, First Light, was warmly received by the critics but did not sell particularly well. Neither did its follow up, 1979's harder-edged and more cynical Sunnyvista. Chrysalis Records did not take up their option to renew the contract, and the Thompsons found themselves without a contract, but not without admirers.

Gerry Rafferty had booked the Thompsons as the support act for his 1980 tour, and had also used Richard as a session player on his Night Owl album. Rafferty offered to finance the recording of a new Richard and Linda Thompson album which he would then use to secure a contract for the Thompsons. Richard Thompson fell out with Rafferty during this project and was not happy with the finished product. Nevertheless Rafferty kept his side of the bargain and presented the album to several record companies — none of which expressed interest in signing the Thompsons. Rafferty did not recover his investment.

About a year later Joe Boyd signed the Thompsons to his small Hannibal label and a new album was recorded. Shoot Out the Lights included new recordings of many of the songs recorded in 1980. Linda Thompson was pregnant at the time of the recording, and so the album’s release was delayed until they could tour behind the album. Breathing problems arising from her pregnancy also meant that Linda was not able to sing the lead part on some of these songs as she had done on demo tapes and the Rafferty-produced recordings.

As an interim measure, Richard Thompson decided to arrange for a low-key tour of the U.S. This tour was set up by Nancy Covey who had been in the UK in 1981 trying to sign Thompson to play at the famous McCabe’s guitar shop in Santa Monica. During this tour Thompson and Covey grew closer to each other, and in December 1981 Richard and Linda Thompson separated.

On its release in 1982, Shoot Out the Lights was lauded by critics and sold quite well — especially in the U.S.

The Thompsons, now a couple for professional purposes only, toured the U.S. to support the album and then went their separate ways. Both the album and their live shows were well received by the American media, and Shoot Out the Lights effectively relaunched their career — just as their marriage was falling apart. The performances were very strong, but the tension between Richard and Linda was all too obvious on stage. On occasion she would hit him during the performance or trip him up as the band was walking onstage.

After a stormy tour of the U.S., the Thompsons separated professionally. Richard Thompson continued recording as a solo artist. His 1983 album Hand Of Kindness saw him working with Boyd again, but with a revised backing band and a more extrovert and up-tempo song selection.

With his separation from Linda finalised, Richard Thompson began to commute between twin bases in London and Los Angeles and began to tour regularly in the USA. Encouraged by the success of his solo shows in late 1981 and early 1982, he began to perform solo with increasing frequency as well as continuing to tour with a band. In 1983 and 1984 he toured the USA and Europe with the Richard Thompson Big Band, which included two saxophone players in addition to the more usual rhythm section, second guitar and accordion. Set lists included covers of classic rock 'n roll songs and jazz standards such as "Tuxedo Junction".

In 1985 Thompson returned to the big league when he signed with PolyGram and received a sizable advance. He also married Nancy Covey and moved his home and his working base to California.

1985's Across A Crowded Room was his last album to be recorded in England and the last to have Boyd as producer.

After sales failed to match the critics’ praises Thompson was under some pressure to repay PolyGram’s investment with a hit album. In 1986 he released Daring Adventures, which was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Mitchell Froom. Daring Adventures, with its rich sound, markedly different production and use of American session players, was perceived by some as evidence of Thompson’s increasing "Americanisation". Perhaps more significantly the album continued the trend, begun with Across A Crowded Room, of Thompson’s songs moving away from the seemingly personal and towards the character sketches and narratives for which he has since become famous. Froom and PolyGram had plans to target college and the growing "alternative" markets with Daring Adventures. Sales improved, but not by enough.

PolyGram declined an option to renew the contract. Thompson’s management negotiated a new deal with Capitol Records and Thompson released a string of albums between 1988 and 1996 with Froom in the producer's chair.

For a short while a late career commercial breakthrough, like that enjoyed by Bonnie Raitt, seemed likely. The Grammy-nominated 1991 album Rumor And Sigh sold well and a single, "I Feel So Good", achieved some chart success. The song "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" from Rumor and Sigh remains the most requested song on National Public Radio. Unfortunately, a boardroom shake-up at Capitol saw Thompson fan and champion Hale Milgrim replaced by Garry Gersh; Thompson's next album Mirror Blue was held back for almost a year before being released; and Rumor And Sigh's success was not capitalised on.

Mirror Blue was released in 1994, and Thompson took a band on the road to promote the album. This band was the smallest that Thompson had put together so far. He was joined by Dave Mattacks on drums, Danny Thompson on double bass, and Pete Zorn on acoustic guitar, backing vocals, mandolin and various wind instruments. This lineup toured with Thompson the following two years, and all subsequent Richard Thompson Band lineups have been built around Zorn and Danny Thompson.

Thompson continued recording for Capitol until 1999, when Mock Tudor was recorded and released. In addition Thompson modified his deal with Capitol so that he could release and directly market live, limited-quantity, not-for-retail albums. The first of these was Live at Crawley, released in 1995. These "authorised bootlegs" are well-regarded by Thompson fans.

In 2001 it was Thompson who refused the option to renew a contract, and he parted ways with Capitol. Hereafter Thompson would fund the recording of his own albums and have them distributed and marketed by smaller independent labels.

The move away from big labels and big budgets brought a bigger marketing push and healthier sales. Thompson's first two self-funded releases, 2003's The Old Kit Bag and 2005’s Front Parlour Ballads, did well in the indie charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

In May 2007 Thompson released Sweet Warrior. The album was licensed to different labels in different territories: Shout Factory! in the USA, P-Vine in Japan, Planet Records in Australia, and Proper Records in the UK and Europe). In August of the same year Island Records released a live Richard and Linda Thompson album compiled from recordings made during the November 1975 tour to promote the Pour Down Like Silver album.

Over the years Thompson has participated in many projects with other musicians. Often these projects allow him to participate in music and experiments that would not fit well on his own albums.

In between leaving Fairport Convention in early 1971 and releasing his debut solo album in 1972 he undertook a large amount of session work, most notably on albums by John Martyn, Al Stewart, Matthews Southern Comfort, Sandy Denny and Nick Drake.

During the same period he also worked on two collaborative projects. Morris On was recorded with Ashley Hutchings, John Kirkpatrick, Dave Mattacks and Barry Dransfield, and was a collection of English traditional tunes arranged for electric instruments. The Bunch were almost the reverse conceptually – a grouping of English folk rock musicians (including Sandy Denny, Linda Peters and members of Fairport Convention) recording a selection of classic rock and roll tunes.

Thompson has continued to guest on albums by an array of artists, from Crowded House, Bonnie Raitt and Vivian Stanshall, to Norma Waterson and Beausoleil and folk artists like Loudon Wainwright III, Cathal McConnell and Bob Davenport. He has also performed and recorded with Teddy Thompson, his son from his marriage to Linda Thompson.

Since the early 1980s Thompson has appeared at Fairport Convention's annual Cropredy Festival, both in his own right and as a participant in sets with current and previous Fairport members. (He once joked that Fairport Conventions are a bit like the Hotel California: "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.") These sets are seldom confined to performances of songs out of the Thompson or Fairport Convention canons, and in recent years some surprise offerings have included the soul classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (with Thompson backed by the Roy Wood Big Band), The Beatles' "I'm Down" and even "The Lady Is a Tramp".

Thompson has displayed a penchant for the avant garde as well, working with former Pere Ubu singer David Thomas's grouping The Pedestrians on two albums in 1981 and 1982, respectively. In the 1980s, he was associated with a loose-fitting group called The Golden Palominos, who were led by drummer Anton Fier and included at times on stage and on record Jack Bruce, Michael Stipe, Carla Bley, John Lydon, Bill Laswell and others. He has worked with experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser, most notably as part of the ad hoc aggregation French Frith Kaiser Thompson with whom he recorded two albums. In 1997 he worked with long-time friend and band member Danny Thompson to record a concept album Industry that dealt with the decline of British industry. A year later he worked with early music expert Philip Pickett on the acclaimed Bones of All Men which fused renaissance tunes with contemporary music.

In recent years Thompson has devised and toured his show 1000 Years of Popular Music. The inspiration for this came when Playboy magazine asked Thompson (and many other music industry figures) in 1999 for their suggestions for the "top ten songs of the millennium". Guessing that Playboy expected most people's lists to start at around 1950, Thompson took them at their word and presented a list of songs from the 11th century to the present day. Perhaps not surprisingly, Playboy didn't use his list, but the exercise gave him the idea for a show which takes a chronological trip through popular music across the ages. Thompson acknowledges that this is an ambitious undertaking, partly because he reckons that he is technically unqualified to sing 98% of the material, and partly because of the spare musical setting he restricts himself to: besides his acoustic guitar, he's backed by singer/pianist Judith Owen and a percussionist. A typical performance would start with a medieval round, progress via a Purcell aria, Victorian music-hall and Hoagy Carmichael and climax with Thompson's unique take on the Britney Spears hit "Oops!... I Did It Again".

In 2004 Thompson was asked to create the soundtrack music for the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man. The score, which was recorded over a two-day period in December, 2004, brought Thompson together with a group of improvisational musicians, mostly from the San Francisco Bay area; video footage from the sessions was edited into a mini-documentary, In the Edges, which was included with the DVD release of Grizzly Man.

Thompson has been well-served by compilers of retrospective collections. These are partly aimed at curious new listeners who are interested in hearing more of him, but are also essential purchases for more committed fans, since they contain material which is unavailable elsewhere. 1976's (guitar, vocal) was a collection of unreleased material from the previous eight years of Thompson's appearances on the Island label. The 3-CD set Watching the Dark is a generous combination of his better-known songs and previously unreleased live and studio tracks. Action Packed is a compilation of tracks from his Capitol releases, plus three hard-to-find songs. Finally, in 2006, the independent label Free Reed released RT - The Life and Music of Richard Thompson, a 5-CD box set consisting almost entirely of previously unreleased performances of songs from throughout Thompson's long career.

Thompson's songs have been extensively covered; for example, "Dimming Of The Day" has been performed by artists such as The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, David Gilmour, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and The Corrs. There have been several tribute compilations of other artists' interpretations of his work, including: Capitol's Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson and Green Linnet's The World Is a Wonderful Place: The Songs of Richard Thompson, both released in 1994.

His playing is often said to be an influence on Tom Verlaine and Bob Mould (who covered Thompson songs on the tribute album Beat the Retreat and his own Poison Years).

Thompson is often associated with the Fender Stratocaster guitar, having been seen using such a guitar in concert since his days with Fairport Convention. More generally he has long been a user of guitars with single coil pickups, preferring the sound of such guitars to those equipped with humbucker pickups.

When Fairport Convention signed their first recording contract in 1967, Thompson was playing a Gibson ES-175. He soon changed this guitar for another Gibson, a gold top Les Paul with P-90 pickups - a move to the thinner, more biting single-coil sound. This guitar later passed into the ownership of John Martyn, from whom it was subsequently stolen.

By the time of his exit from Fairport Thompson was playing a late 1960s Stratocaster. This was soon changed for an earlier 1950s model. He was closely associated with this guitar for many years. This particular Stratocaster is not currently serviceable.

Thompson still uses a Stratocaster, an early 1960s example, in concert and in the studio, but is most often seen with a light-blue solid-body guitar custom built by luthier Danny Ferrington. This has a Gibson P-90 pickup in the neck position, a Stratocaster Alnico pickup in the middle position, and a Fender Broadcaster pickup in the bridge position. This guitar has three volume controls (one for each pickup), no tone controls and strat-style 5-way pickup selector switch.

His electric set-up usually consists of a Barber LTD overdrive pedal, a Fulltone Deja-Vibe and a Line 6 delay, passed into either a Fender Twin Reverb, a blonde Fender Vibrolux or a Divided By 13 FTR 37.

Thompson has made intermittent use of Roland's GK-1 pickup and GL-2 synthesizer over the years. He made use of these devices on 1979's Sunnyvista album and has occasionally used them in concert.

During the time he worked with then-wife Linda, and for some years thereafter, Thompson used a Martin 000-18. Thompson still owns this guitar, but says that it is not serviceable and needs repair.

Since the early 1990s Thompson has made extensive use of Lowden acoustic guitars for both live and studio work. For live work these guitars are fitted with Sunrise pickups and internal condensor microphones. The signal from the pickup is fed through a pre-amplifier and some effects pedals (typically a delay pedal and a UniVibe) before being passed into the mixing desk. . For many years his main stage guitar was an F-series Lowden with spruce top and rosewood back and sides. Thompson, in an interview with Fretboard Journal, said that though this particularly guitar doesn't sound full when played acoustically, when it's amplified it provides a wonderful sound. In 2008 for his solo shows he changed to another Lowden for on-stage use - an F-series with Cedar top and Walnut back and sides.

Lowden released a Richard Thompson signature model in 2007. This guitar has a cedar top and ziricote back and sides. Richard Thompson has said that this new Lowden is a wonderful instrument, acoustically or amplified.

In 2006 Thompson auctioned a Rick Turner RS6 acoustic guitar. He had occasionally used this guitar in concert. The proceeds from this sale were donated to charity.

Thompson also owns a few unusual acoustic guitars made by Danny Ferrington. An example of these guitars can be seen on the cover of the Small Town Romance and Hand Of Kindness albums. In the 2003 BBC documentary he can be seen playing an acoustic Ferrington baritone guitar in his office whilst working on a new composition. In November 2007 Thompson auctioned a Ferrington acoustic to raise funds for charity. This guitar had a serial number 13, was acquired 2nd hand by Thompson and had been used during the recording of his 1988 album Amnesia.

The "gear and tunings" FAQ on Thompson's web site.

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Live from Austin, TX (Richard Thompson album)

Live From Austin, TX cover

Live From Austin, TX is a live album by Richard Thompson, recorded in 2001 and released in 2005 on CD and DVD.

Thompson has composed and performed since the late 60s, and has been signed to several major labels, but despite his reputation as a compelling and powerful live performer live albums have been few and far between for most of his career.

There was the flawed (and later withdrawn), Small Town Romance in 1984, and several not-for-retail releases on Thompson's own boutique labels. Then in 2004 Cooking Vinyl released a live DVD (Live In Providence) and in 2005 New West Records released this recording of a 2001 performance given for KLRU's Austin City Limits series.

Unlike Thompson's boutique live releases, available at his website and at his shows, Live from Austin, TX is an audio recording of a single show. Thompson's boutique releases, such as Ducknapped! and Semi-Detached Mock Tudor are compiled from a large number of different shows on the same tour.

This performance was given in KLRU's studios in front of an audience. Unusually the band is a trio, with Thompson joined by bassist Danny Thompson (no relation) and drummer Michael Jerome. Danny Thompson and Jerome had toured as members of the Richard Thompson band in 1999 and 2000, and would go on to work with him in 2002 on the recording sessions for the 2003 release The Old Kit Bag.

The DVD version of Live From Austin, TX includes an extra track, "Put It There Pal" omitted from the CD. Neither version includes the entire performance that Thompson gave at the KLRU studios. Thompson broke a guitar string during "Shoot Out The Lights" and whilst the guitar was being restrung he performed an a cappella rendition of the 19th century music hall song "Sam Hall".

All songs composed by Richard Thompson except "Persuasion" which is written by Tim Finn and Richard Thompson.

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G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area

G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area is a protected area located primarily in Fauquier County, Virginia, with small encroachments into both Warren and Clarke Counties. Its two parcels together total nearly 4,000 acres (16 km2) in size, rising in a series of steep stages to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which the area's northwestern boundary closely follows. Elevations on the property range from 700 feet (210 m) to 2,200 feet (670 m) above sea level. Most of the forests found on the land are hardwoods, but there is some open land at the bottom and near the top of one tract. The remains of growths of fruit trees may still be seen at the lower portion of the area. A number of major streams and unusual spring seeps may also be found there, as may several outcropings of rock. The scenic Appalachian Trail crosses through its boundaries along the crest of the Blue Ridge, and the WMA contains several side trails that provide access to the area.

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Richard Thompson (West Virginia politician)

Richard Thompson is a Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 17th District since 2000. He is currently Speaker of the House, elected in January 2007. He earlier served as a Delegate from 1980 through 1982.

Thompson holds degrees from Marshall University and West Virginia University College of Law.

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Richard Thompson (animator)

Richard Thompson (26 August 1914 - 12 June 1998) was an American animator who worked at several animated cartoon departments over a career of four decades. His longest association was with Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. Cartoons and M-G-M. He also worked at Hanna-Barbera and DePatie-Freleng.

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Fairport Convention

Simon Nicol and Ric Sanders of Fairport Convention on stage at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005

Fairport Convention are an English folk rock and later electric folk band, formed in 1967 who are still recording and touring today. They are regarded as the most important single group in the English folk rock movement. Their seminal album Liege and Lief is generally considered to have launched the electric folk or English folk rock movement, which provided a distinctively English identity to rock music and helped awaken much wider interest in traditional music in general. The large number of personnel who have been part of the band are among the most highly regarded and influential musicians of their era and have gone to participate in a large number of significant bands, or enjoyed important solo careers. Since 1979 they have hosted the Cropredy Festival, which is the largest such annual event in England. Individually and collectively the members of Fairport Convention have received numerous awards recognizing their contribution to music and culture.

Bassist Ashley Hutchings met guitarist Simon Nicol in North London in 1966 when they both played in the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra. They rehearsed on the floor above Nicol's father's medical practice in a house called "Fairport" and lent its name to the group they formed together as Fairport Convention in 1967 with Richard Thompson on guitar and Shaun Frater on drums. After their first performance at St Michael's Church Hall in Golders Green, North West London on 27 May 1967, they had their first of many line-up changes as one member of the audience, drummer Martin Lamble, convinced the band that he could do a better job than Frater and replaced him. They soon added a female singer, Judy Dyble, which gave them a distinctive sound among the many London bands of the period.

Fairport Convention were soon playing regularly at underground venues such as UFO and The Electric Garden (later to become the Middle Earth Club) After only a few months they caught the attention of manager Joe Boyd who secured them a contract with Polydor Records. Boyd suggested they augment the line-up with another male vocalist. Singer Iain Matthews joined the band and their first album, Fairport Convention, was recorded in late 1967 and released in June 1968. At this early stage Fairport looked to American folk and folk rock acts such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and The Byrds for material and inspiration. The name "Fairport Convention" and the use of two lead vocalists led many new listeners to believe that they were an American act, earning them the nickname 'the British Jefferson Airplane' during this period.

After disappointing album sales they signed a new contract with Island Records. Before their next recording Judy Dyble left the band and was replaced by Sandy Denny, a folk singer who had previously recorded as a soloist and with Strawbs. Denny’s distinctive voice, described by Clive James as ‘open space, low-volume, high-intensity’ is one of the characteristics of the two albums both released in 1969: What We Did On Our Holidays and Unhalfbricking. These recordings marked the growth of much greater musicality and song-writing ability among the band. The first of these featured the Thompson penned 'Meet on the Ledge', which became their second single and eventually the band's unofficial anthem. The second of these albums featured a guest appearance by Birmingham folk fiddler Dave Swarbrick on a recording of 'A Sailor's Life', a traditional song brought to the band by Denny from her folk club days. The recording of this track marked an important turning point for the band, sparking an interest in traditional music in Ashley Hutchings that led him to detailed research in the English Folk Dance and Song Society Library at Cecil Sharp House; this theme would become the basis for their next, much more ambitious, recording project.

These two albums began to gain the band wider recognition. Radio DJ John Peel championed their music, playing their albums on his influential BBC shows. Peel also recorded a number of sessions which were later released as the album Heyday (1987). They enjoyed some mainstream success when they entered the singles charts with "Si Tu Dois Partir", a French-language version of Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now". The record just missed the top twenty, but secured the band a slot on Top Of The Pops, Britain's most popular television pop music programme at the time.

On 12 May 1969, on the way home from a gig in Birmingham Fairport's van crashed on the M1 motorway. Martin Lamble, aged only nineteen, and Jeannie Franklyn, Richard Thompson's girlfriend, were killed. The rest of the band suffered injuries of varying severity. The band nearly decided to disband and Matthews left, eventually to form Matthews Southern Comfort. However, when they had recovered Dave Mattacks took over drumming duties and they returned to the studio to work on their fourth album Liege & Lief.

Usually considered the highpoint of the band’s long career, Liege and Lief was a huge leap forward in concept and musicality. The album consisted of six traditional tracks and three original compositions in a similar style. The traditional tracks included two sustained epics ‘Tam Lin’, which was over seven minutes in length, and ‘Matty Groves’, at over eight. There was a medley of four traditional tunes, arranged, and, like many of the tracks, enlivened, by Swarbrick’s energetic fiddle playing. The first side was bracketed by original compositions ‘Come all ye’ and ‘Farewell, Farewell’, which, in addition to an inner sleeve based on Hutchings’ research, explaining English folk traditions, helped give the record the feel of a concept album. ‘Farewell, Farewell’ and the final track ‘Crazy Man Michael’, also saw the full emergence of the distinctive songwriting talent of Thompson that was to characterize his contributions to the band and later solo career. The distinctive sound of the album came from the use of electric instruments and Mattacks’ disciplined drumming with Swarbrick’s fiddle accompaniment in a surprising and powerful combination of rock with the traditional. The entire band had reached new levels of musicality, with the fluid guitar playing of Thompson and the ‘ethereal’ vocal of Denny particularly characteristic of the sound of the album. As the reviewer from Allmusic put it, the album was characterized by the ‘fusing time-worn folk with electric instruments while honoring both’.

A few British bands had experimented with the use of electric instruments with traditional English songs, (including Strawbs and Pentangle), but Fairport Convention was the first English band to do this is a concerted and focused way. Although this is often referred to today as folk rock, the bands and press of the time used the term electric folk or English folk to distinguish it from more American inspired music. The descriptions are now often used indiscriminately or forgotten, however, Fairport Convention’s achievement was not to invent folk rock, but to create a distinctly English branch of the genre, which would develop alongside, and interact with, American inspired music, but which can also be seen as a distinctively national reaction in opposition to it.

Liege & Lief was launched with a sell-out concert in London's Royal Festival Hall late in 1969. It reaching number 17 in the UK album chart, where it spent fifteen weeks.

Dave Swarbrick, having made a major contribution to Liege and Lief, now joined as a full member, but there were disagreements about the direction of the band in the wake of this success. Ashley Hutchings wanted to explore more traditional material and left to form (among many projects) arguably the only two groups that would rival Fairport for significance in English folk rock Steeleye Span and the Albion Band. Sandy Denny also left to found her own group Fotheringay. Dave Pegg took over on bass guitar and has been the group's one constant every since, in an unbroken membership of over three decades. The band made no serious attempt to replace Denny, and, although she would briefly return, the sound of the band would now be characterized by male vocals.

Despite these changes the band produced another album Full House (1970) which was remarkably successful as a project. Like its predecessor, it combined traditional songs, including a powerful rendition of ‘Sir Patrick Spens’, with original compositions. The latter benefited from the writing partnership of Thompson and Swarbrick, most obviously on ‘Walk Awhile’ which would become a concert favorite. Despite the loss of Denny the band still possessed four vocalists, including the emerging voice of Nicols and Swarbrick, whose tones and would dominate the sound of this period. It was favorably reviewed in Britain and America, drawing comparisons with The Band from Rolling Stone Magazine who declared that ‘Fairport Convention is better than ever’. The album reached number 13 in the UK Chart and stayed in the chart for eleven weeks. The same year the band released a single 'Now Be Thankful' and made its American debut, touring with Traffic and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young..

In the recurring pattern, soon after the album’s release Thompson left the band to pursue other projects and eventually his solo career. This left Simon Nicol as the only original member and Dave Swarbrick emerged as the leading force in the band. In 1970 the members and their families had moved in to The Angel, a former pub in Hertfordshire and this inspired the next album Angel Delight (1971) the band's first to chart in the US, peaking at number 200 on the Billboard 200 and their only top ten album in the UK. The next project was an ambitious folk-rock opera developed by Swarbrick, based on the life of John 'Babbacombe' Lee, ‘the man they couldn’t hang’ and released with the title Babbacombe Lee (1971). The concept format, originally without clear tracks, excited considerable press interest and it received good air play in the United States where it reached number 195. A version was produced by the BBC for TV in 1975 with narration by Melvin Bragg. These two albums were also notable as the first time the same Fairport had recorded consecutively with the same line-up, but inevitably stability did not last: Simon Nicol left early in late 1971 to join Ashley Hutchings’ Albion Band and he was soon followed by Mattacks.

Only Pegg and Swarbrick remained and the following few years have been dubbed 'Fairport confusion' as a bewildering sequence of band members came and went, but by 1973 Mattacks had returned and two former members of Sandy Denny's Fotheringay had joined the band, Denny's Australian husband Trevor Lucas on vocals and guitar and American Jerry Donahue on lead guitar. From these line-ups the band produced two studio albums: Rosie, notable for the Swarbrick penned title track (1973) and Nine (1974), the ninth studio album by the band. The last of these contained writing contributions by Lucas to five of the nine tracks, which together with Donahue's country influences and outstanding guitar pyronechnics gave the album a very distinctive feel.

Denny rejoined the band in 1974 and there were considerable expectations, artistic and commercial, placed on this lineup. Denny was featured on the album Rising for the Moon (1975), which became the band's highest US chart album when it reached number 143 on the Billboard 200 and the first album to reach the top one-hundred in the UK since Angel Delight, reaching no 52. During the Rising sessions, Mattacks was replaced by Bruce Rowland and, despite the relative success of the line-up, Lucas and Donahue left the band, as did Denny in 1976. She died aged 31, in 1978, of a cerebral haemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs.

Rowland, Pegg and Swarbrick fulfilled their remaining contractual obligations to Island Records by turning what had originally been a Swarbrick solo effort into the album Gottle O'Geer (1976) under the name 'Fairport' (as opposed to Fairport Convention) with various session players and production by Simon Nicol, who subsequently rejoined the band. They then signed up with Vertigo, but record sales were declining and after producing two of four contracted albums, The Bonny Bunch of Roses (1977) and Tipplers Tales (1978), Vertigo bought them out of their contract. It is claimed by members of the band that this was the only recording money they had seen up to that point.

By 1979 the mainstream market for folk rock had largely disappeared, the band had no record deal and Dave Swarbrick had been diagnosed with tinnitus which made loud electric gigs increasingly difficult. Fairport decided to disband. They played a farewell tour and a final outdoor concert on 4 August in Cropredy, the Oxfordshire village where Dave and Christine Pegg lived. The finality of this occasion was mitigated by the announcement that the band would meet for a reunion.

No record company wanted to release the live recordings of the tour and concert, so the Peggs, founded Woodworm Records, which would be the major outlet for the band in the future. Members continued to take part in occasional gigs, particularly in Festivals in continental Europe, and after a year they staged a reunion concert in Cropredy which became the annual Cropredy Festival. Over the next few years, it grew rapidly and emerged as the major mechanism for sustaining the band. The Peggs continued to record and release the Cropredy concerts as 'official bootlegs'. These were supplemented by New Years gigs in minor locations including the Half Moon at Putney and the Gloucester Leisure Centre. In 1983 the magazine Fairport Fanatics (later Dirty Linen), was created: a testament to the continued existence of a dedicated fan base..

The remaining members pursued their own lives and careers outside of the band. Bruce Rowlands gave up the music business and moved to Denmark and as a result Dave Mattacks returned as drummer for Fairport’s occasional gigs. Dave Pegg was the first of several Fairporters to join Jethro Tull which gave him well-paying steady employment. Simon Nicol had teamed up with Dave Swarbrick in a highly regarded acoustic duo, but this partnership was made difficult by Swarbrick’s sudden decision to move to Scotland, where, from 1984 he began to focus on his new project Whippersnapper.

In 1985 Pegg, Nicol and Mattacks found that they all had some free time and an available studio belonging to Pegg. They decided that they needed some new material to add to the catalogue that had been suspended in 1978. As Swarbrick was unavailable, the selection of traditional tunes was more difficult than for past albums and there was a need for a replacement fiddle player and some vocals. Pegg and Nicol took over arranging duties on an instrumental medley and the band turned to sometime Albion Band members: jazz and folk violinist Ric Sanders and singer-songwriter Cathy Lesurf. They also had the help of ex-member Richard Thompson. Thompson and Lesurf contributed songs and took part in the recordings. Also important to the album was Ralph McTell who contributed one song and co-wrote one track each with Nicol and Mattacks. The former, ‘The Hiring Fair’, would become a stage fixture of the future Fairport.

The resulting album Gladys' Leap (1985) was generally well received in the music and national press, but caused some tension with Swarbrick who refused to play any of the new material at the 1985 Cropredy Festival. Nevertheless the decision to reform the band, without Swarbrick, was taken by the other three remaining members. Ric Sanders was invited to join, along with guitarist, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Maartin Allcock. Nicol, with his developing baritone voice, took over the main share of the vocal duties. This line-up was to last eleven years, the longest period of membership stability in the band’s history.

The new band began a hectic schedule of performing in Britain and the World and prepared material for a new album. The result was the all-instrumental Expletive Delighted (1986). This showcased the virtuosity of Sanders and Allcock, but perhaps inevitably was not popular with all fans. This was followed by the recording In Reel Time (1987) which managed to capture the energy and power of the new Fairport on stage, despite the fact that it was recorded in the studio with audience reactions dubbed on.

At this point, with Mattacks busy with other projects, the band shifted to an acoustic format for touring and released the unplugged Old, New, Borrow Blue as ‘Fairport Acoustic Convention’ in 1996. For a while the four-piece acoustic line-up ran in parallel with the electric format. When Allcock left the band, he was replaced by Chris Leslie on vocals, mandolin and fiddle. This meant that for the first time since reforming, the band had a recognized songwriter who contributed significantly to the band's output on the next album Who Knows Where the Time Goes (1997), particularly the rousing ‘John Gaudie’. By the time of the 1997 thirty-year anniversary Festival at Cropredy, the new Fairport had been in existence for over a decade and contributed a significant chapter to the history of the band.

In 1998, Dave Mattacks moved to the USA and Gerry Conway, took over on drums and percussion. Fairport produced two more studio albums for Woodworm Records: The Wood and the Wire (2000) and XXXV (2002). Then for Over the Next Hill (2004) they established a new label: Matty Grooves Records. In this period the band toured extensively in the UK, Europe, Australasia, Europe, the USA and Canada, and staged a major fundraiser for Dave Swarbrick at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

2007 was the band’s fortieth anniversary year and they celebrated by releasing a new album, Sense of Occasion. They performed the whole of the Liege & Lief album live at Fairport's Cropredy Convention, featuring the 1969 line-up of Dave Swarbrick, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson, with singer-songwritter Chris While taking the place of Sandy Denny. Footage of the Festival, although not the Liege and Lief performance, was released as part of a celebratory DVD. The band's first 'official' YouTube video appeared in April 2008. Edited from footage shot for the DVD, the nine-minute mini-documentary includes interviews with Lulu, Jools Holland, Seth Lakeman, Mike Harding, Geoff Hughes and Frank Skinner.

Fairport Convention have received increasing recognition of their importance in the mainstream media. They won the coveted ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the 2002 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. In the same year Free Reed Records, an independent label, released Fairport Unconventional, a four-CD boxed set of rare and unreleased recordings from the band's 35-year career. At the 2006 Folk Awards they received an award when their seminal album Liege & Lief was voted 'Most Influential Folk Album of All Time' by Radio 2 listeners. At the 2007 awards they received an award with the late Sandy Denny for ‘Favourite Folk Track Of All Time’ for ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes?’.

This article shares its genesis with material in the public-domain source on Fairport Convention's website (see 'External links' below).

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Source : Wikipedia