Nicholas Rodney “Nick” Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter. Although his music did not find a wide audience during his lifetime, he gradually achieved wider recognition and is now considered 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. Neither sold more than 5,000 copies on initial release.
Drake’s reluctance to perform live or be interviewed contributed to his lack of commercial success. He suffered from depression and insomnia, topics often reflected in his lyrics. After completing Pink Moon in 1972, he withdrew from live performance and recording, retreating to his parents’ home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November 1974, at the age of 26, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant.
Since his suicide 30 years ago, Nick Drake’s legend has grown and now the discovery of his final recorded song has cast new light on that fateful night in 1974. Family, friends and Drake’s former lover reveal for the first time the inner life of an other-worldly singer.
By Peter Paphides THE GUARDIAN April 2004.
Sheltered by a mighty oak tree in the village of Tanworth-in-Arden, Nick Drake’s headstone lies beside a well-beaten path. In accordance with the notice on the tree – ‘fans are requested to pay their respects by leaving only small tokens or flowers’ – the stone is surrounded by all manner of tiny ephemera. In March, 2004, these included a harmonica, two bracelets, a ring, a framed picture of a girl dancing on the brow of a hill and the reminder from a packet of Swan rolling papers that prompted Drake to call his first album Five Leaves Left.