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Nick Drake: The Biography

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  781 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Nick Drake was barely 26 years old when he died in 1974 following an accidental overdose of prescribed drugs. The British singer-songwriter made only three albums during his short life - Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter and Pink Moon. All are now recognized as classics.

Since his death, Nick has been cited as a seminal influence by stars as diverse as REM, Elton John, and Pa
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 4th 1999 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30)
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Philly Aesthete Brown
Nick Drake is in the top 10 of my all time favorite singer-songwriters. One of his gifts, I think, was the innate soulfulness of not just the lyrics and of his voice, but also of his chord changes. You can take a song like "Saturday Sun" and play it in a blues and contemporary gospel vein (as I do) and not have to do much in the way of chord substitution. The blue notes and the funk are already built into the chord changes of the song. I love him for that. I adore his use of really flavorful dim ...more
Mar 09, 2007 Cyndi rated it liked it
I thought I would learn something about his life..apparently he didn't talk much. Fans only.
Jul 23, 2011 Janina rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, biography
I didn't pick up this book as a Nick Drake fan. Although Nick Drake's name faintly rang a bell, I hadn't known anything about him really and a quick look at Wikipedia told me, he was this depressed guy, who died when he was only 26.

But fortunately Patrick Humphries doesn't concentrate only on those dark days in the last years of his short life, which were undeniably there. No, he found school mates from the public school Nick went to and also friends from his time at Cambridge, who draw the pict
Andrew Wright
Jul 11, 2011 Andrew Wright rated it did not like it
This book was such a romanticized piece of garbage playing on the (unfairly) romanticized mythos of Drake's untimely death. Since he seems to have been a fairly private guy, all the book really provides is contradictory conjecture about the man's life, and by the end one finds that the book hasn't really taught you anything about Drake, what he did with his life, or what kind of person he was. All you get really is a lot of other people's guesses as to what Drake was like. This was a real piece ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Polly rated it liked it
I didn't actually like this book at all. It's hard to "like" books about nice young men from ordinary backgrounds who happen to be brilliant musicians and also suicidally depressed and so kill themselves. It's a perfectly fine book, but it proves two things very conclusively: 1)people who make beautiful music don't necessarily have exciting lives and 2)depression and suicide are not interesting, glamorous or romantic, they're just miserable and tragic. Not that I personally needed to have the la ...more
Edward Sullivan
Aug 31, 2014 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, music
Obviously quite a sad story since the chronically depressed Drake died, either accidentally or deliberately by overdose, at age twenty-six. This biography is unlikely to interest readers who are not already Drake fans. He released only three albums in his short lifetime, and it's his last, Pink Moon, I've always been enamored of. I've never heard a collection of songs that so beautifully and perfectly capture the infinite sadness and utter desolation of profound melancholy.
Loving scrapbook

270 pages long Patrick Humphries collects in this 1997 biography all he could find about the singer songwriter and put it together: anecdotes of rare performances, descriptions of ads in music magazines, a solid and complete discography, he talks with Francoise Hardy about her contact with Nick Drake and discusses every release (unfortunately only 3 albums of course) but also the records that are in the Island catalog numbered before and after Drakes albums! Humphries has an incr
Aug 30, 2008 Caroline rated it really liked it
Shelves: 40-books-in-2008
this book covers the life and works of one of my all-time favorite composers and musicians, nick drake. patrick humphries wrote this book quite nicely -- somehow he manages to tie in the emotional obsession with nick along with all the factual data about how/where/when he grew up.

there's also quite a bit of interesting information about the cultural/social/environmental climate surrounding nick's life - the political goings-on as well as a bit of history of rock for those interested. for instan
Jun 13, 2007 Patrick rated it liked it
As interested as I was the writing, was really uninteresting.
Jul 20, 2009 Tara marked it as to-read
His story breaks my heart; what a wonderful talent. Reading this as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Nick Sweeney
Jan 10, 2012 Nick Sweeney rated it liked it
I like the odd tune by Nick Drake, but I find much of what he did a bit dull. I think that, to appreciate Nick Drake’s work fully, you’d need to have a proper liking of dreamy acoustic guitar music generally absent from my tastes. I know I wouldn’t have read this book had I not come across in my fave bookshop ‘the charity shop’. I put off reading it for a few years. Well, I got through it, and it was interesting enough, I guess, for somebody like Nick Drake, who led a generally unremarkable life ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
The Biography Nick Drake By Patrick Humphries
This is a great Biography on Nick Drake one of
the more misunderstood and mysterious characters
to come out of the 60's music scene this book
delves deep into Nicks short life from a young
and gifted athlete at Marlborough College where
his sprinting records lasted for over 20 years!!
To seeing the Rolling Stones in Marrakesh where
he even found them and busked for them at there
hotel!! Not bad for someone always described as
shy and withdrawn!
To go
Apr 11, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, biog-autobiog
as someone coming at Nick Drake quite late on and with no real conception of the life the artist led apart from articles that talk of a doomed soul I found this book illuminating and of interest.
to look at Nick as constantly tortured seems to neglect some early years of happiness which also made the man what he was and this book does a good job of unlocking the early years through archive family interviews plus interviews with peers both in the music business an in Nick' s life growing up.
it has
I read this when in came out in 1997. There is very little written about Nick in his lifetime and what has been written after his death seems woefully inadequate. What strikes me now, reading this 10+ years later is the similarity of Nicks behaviour and my Ian Curtis. Staying at friends houses arriving and leaving unannounced. Nick was not appreciated in his lifetime and I feel not appreciated enough now he's gone. Like Ian, unappreciated if only we knew more how to treat physical and mental ill ...more
Clark Chambers
Nov 20, 2008 Clark Chambers rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Nick drake fans, obviously
Ok, well may start by saying that while Patrick Humphries is a perfectly competent writer, I thoroughly believe that, (A) He knows nothing about Nick or his music and had absolutely no passion for the man or his music. And (B) He has done little or no research for this book.
The content of this book seems to be largely the same tired old rehashed "Nick Drake was a legendary tortured soul who disappeared in to a world that didnt understand him" nonsense. What everyone seems to forget is that Nic
Nov 21, 2012 Karlie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Nick Drake's music, and I appreciate what Patrick Humphries is trying to do, but I just don't think it works. Unfortunately, Nick Drake's life wasn't all that remarkable. It's sad to think of such a young, talented person dying in such a tragic way, but other than his dramatic death, it doesn't seem like much else went on in his life. His family life was happy, his school career was normal, etc. Add to this the fact that he was rarely interviewed, and we have a book written on what seems ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
I am a latecomer to Nick Drake, as I imagine most people are. I bought "Five Leaves Left" three years ago and was quite taken with it. His voice is similar to Donovan's but the mood is more brooding. This bio is readable and sheds light on Drake's struggles. After reading it, I listened to his music and shed tears. I also bought his other two CDs.
Larry Queen
Sep 02, 2012 Larry Queen rated it really liked it
Humphries provides us with a rare, if not complete, insight into the mind of Nick Drake, and his bizarre decline from outgoing young boy to social reclusion and offers interesting insight into his artistic process through the minds of the producers and musicians he worked with — Joe Boyd to Richard Thompson.
Anna Chapman
Really interesting account of a singer who is still relatively unknown to a lot of people. It gave a good insight into his troubles and the enigma that still surrounds his music. A very deep character and consequently quite an interesting personal story to read about.
Jun 07, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it
Chronologically confusing, but otherwise well-written with nice pictures.
Jun 25, 2008 Rand added it
Very good book on a man who left 3 albums behind,as well as very little clues as to what happens to a troubled soul.
Aug 17, 2009 Charlie rated it liked it
As a music biography it does its job but Nick Drake just isn't a particularly interesting subject even for someone like me who is a big fan of his music.
Rowan Summerisle
Dec 09, 2009 Rowan Summerisle rated it really liked it
A good account of Drake's life and work.
Randy Costanza
Oh Nick Drake...... "Which Will" goes through my head at least thirty times a day..
Chester Bowerman
Dec 30, 2012 Chester Bowerman rated it really liked it
A beautiful account of the tragically short life of a man unloved in his time. Drake's story is perfectly told with respect given to the smallest of details which helped to shape his life.
Jan 30, 2008 Kurt rated it liked it
Sad, sad, sad...
Mar 22, 2016 CQM rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, music
A well researched biography of the short lived British folk legend. Bring your hanky though, it isn't a lot of laughs.
Jeni Treehugger
May 13, 2011 Jeni Treehugger rated it really liked it
This is one of the saddest books I've ever read though it is written beautifully.
Dec 31, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it
what a tragic story
Jun 16, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent account and insight into Nick's life, although has a tendency to stray off on random, unnecessary tangents
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