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Nick Drake Biography


Home > Music > D > Drake, Nick > Biography


Birth Name: Nicholas Rodney Drake
Born: 1948/06/19
Birth Place: Rangoon, Burma
Died: 1974/11/25
Years Active: 1969–1974
Genres: Folk


Nick Drake (born Nicholas Rodney Drake, June 19, 1948 – November 25, 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician. Best known for his somber guitar based songs, Drake was also proficient at piano, clarinet and saxophone. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, his work gradually achieved wider notice and recognition and he now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years.

Drake signed to Island Records when he was 20 years old and released his debut album, “Five Leaves Left,” in 1969. By 1972, he had recorded two more albums “Bryter Layter” and “Pink Moon.” None sold more than 5,000 copies on their initial release.

His reluctance to perform live or be interviewed contributed to his lack of commercial success. Yet he was able to gather a loyal group of influential fans who would champion his music, including his manager, Joe Boyd, whom had a clause put into his own contract with Island Records to ensure Drake's records would never be put out of print.

Drake suffered from depression and insomnia throughout his life, and these topics were often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's “Pink Moon,” he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. On November 25, 1974, Drake died from a prescription drug overdose, he was 26 years old.

Drake's music remained available through the mid-1970s but the 1979 release of the retrospective album “Fruit Tree” caused his back catalog to be reassessed. By the mid-1980s Drake was being credited as an influence by such artists as Robert Smith, David Sylvian and Peter Buck.

In 1985, The Dream Academy reached the U.K. and U.S. charts with “Life in a Northern Town,” a song written for and dedicated to Drake. By the early 1990s, he had come to represent a certain type of doomed romantic musician in the U.K. music press, and was frequently cited by artists including Kate Bush, Paul Weller and The Black Crowes.

In 2000, Volkswagen featured the title track from “Pink Moon” in a television advertisement, and within a month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous 30 years.