Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is an English singer, guitarist, and songwriter who formed the folk rock band Fairport Convention, which he co-headed on the 1968–70 albums Fairport Convention, What We Did on Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, Liege & Lief, and Full House. Post-Fairport, he played on albums by Nick Drake, Gary Farr, Mick Softley, John Martyn, and former bandmates Ian Matthews and Sandy Denny.

In 1972, Thompson debuted as a solo artist with the album Henry the Human Fly on Island Records. The same year, he married his backing vocalist Linda Peters, who assumed his surname. As a duo, they released the 1974–75 Island albums I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey, and Pour Down Like Silver, followed by the 1978–79 Chrysalis albums First Light and Sunnyvista. Their partnership and marriage concluded with the popular 1982 Hannibal Records release Shoot Out the Lights.

Thompson resumed his solo career with the 1983 Hannibal release Hand of Kindness, followed by the 1985–86 Polydor titles Across a Crowded Room and Daring Adventures. Concurrently, he played on albums by David Thomas, Dagmar Krause, and the Golden Palominos. He continued his solo career on Capitol and formed the super-group French Frith Kaiser Thompson with guitarists Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser.


Early Life

He was born Richard John Thompson on April 3, 1949, in Ladbroke Crescent, a neighborhood in the Notting Hill district of West London. His father, a Scotland Yard detective, played amateur guitar and raised his son on jazz and Scottish folk music. Richard attended William Ellis School in Highgate, where he formed his first band, Emile & The Detectives (named after German satirist Erich Kästner’s 1929 novel) with Hugh Cornwell, who later surfaced as the guitarist–frontman of The Stranglers.


Fairport Convention

In 1967, Richard Thompson (then eighteen) formed Fairport Convention with guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Ashley “Tyger” Hutchings, drummer Martin Lamble, and singers Ian Matthews and Judy Dyble.

They hit the local folk circuit, where Thompson’s guitar skills impressed London-based American producer Joe Boyd, who became their manager and presented the band to Polydor, which issued their June 1968 debut Fairport Convention. Judy cleared for singer Sandy Denny, who sings on their three subsequent albums — What We Did on Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, and Liege & Lief — all released in 1969 on Islands Records.

Before Unhalfbricking hit shelves, Lamble died along with Thompson’s then-girlfriend, Jeannie Franklyn, when the Fairport van crashed en route from Birmingham to London. After Leige, Sandy formed Fotheringay and Thompson finished his Fairport tenure with the 1970 album Full House.


Henry the Human Fly

Richard Thompson released his debut solo album, Henry the Human Fly, in April 1972 on Island (UK) and Reprise (US).

1. “Roll Over Vaughn Williams” (4:09)
2. “Nobody’s Wedding” (3:13)
3. “The Poor Ditching Boy” (3:01)
4. “Shaky Nancy” (3:26)
5. “The Angels Took My Racehorse Away” (4:01)
6. “Wheely Down” (3:00)
7. “The New St. George” (2:08)
8. “Painted Ladies” (3:31)
9. “Cold Feet” (2:26)
10. “Mary and Joseph” (1:38)
11. “The Old Changing Way” (3:55)
12. “Twisted” (1:58)

Recorded February 1972
Studio Sound Techniques, London
Producer Richard Thompson, John Wood

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, accordion (1), tin whistle (4), mandolin (12)
Timi Donald – drums, vocals
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar, vocals
David Snell – harp (11,12)
Jeff Cole – trombone (7,10)
John Defereri – tenor saxophone (7,10)
Clay Toyani – trumpet (7,10)
Sue Draheim – fiddle (2,7)
Barry Dransfield – fiddle (3,5,6)
John Kirkpatrick – accordion (2,5)
Andy Roberts – Appalachian dulcimer (3)
Sandy Denny – piano (8), vocals (4,5)
Linda Peters – vocals (4,5)
Ashley Hutchings – vocals
uncredited – harmonium (6,9,10), piano (6)


Richard & Linda Thompson


I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

Richard & Linda Thompson released their first album as a duo, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, on April 20, 1974, on Island.

1. “When I Get to the Border” (3:26)
2. “The Calvary Cross” (3:51)
3. “Withered and Died” (3:24)
4. “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” (3:07)
5. “Down Where the Drunkards Roll” (4:05)

6. “We Sing Hallelujah” (2:49)
7. “Has He Got a Friend for Me” (3:32)
8. “The Little Beggar Girl” (3:24)
9. “The End of the Rainbow” (3:55)
10. “The Great Valerio” (5:22)

Recorded May 1973
Studio Sound Techniques, Chelsea, London
Producer Richard Thompson, John Wood

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, Hammered dulcimer (10), mandolin (1,8), tin whistle (1,7), piano (2), electric piano (5), harmonium (7)
Linda Thompson – vocals
Timi Donald – drums
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar
John Kirkpatrick – accordion, concertina (1,3,7)
Simon Nicol – dulcimer (5)
Brian Gulland – krummhorn (1,6)
Richard Harvey – krummhorn (1,6)
Royston Wood – harmony bass vocals (6, 2)
Trevor Lucas – harmony vocals (5, 2)
The CWS (Manchester) Silver Band (4,7)


Hokey Pokey

Richard & Linda Thompson released their second duo album, Hokey Pokey, in April 1975 on Island.

1. “Hokey Pokey (The Ice Cream Song)”
2. “I’ll Regret It All in the Morning”
3. “Smiffy’s Glass Eye”
4. “The Egypt Room”
5. “Never Again”
6. “Georgie on a Spree”
7. “Old Man Inside a Young Man”
8. “The Sun Never Shines on the Poor”
9. “A Heart Needs a Home”
10. “Mole in a Hole” (Mike Waterson)

Recorded September – October 1974
Studio Sound Techniques, London
Producer Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin (3,10), hammered dulcimer (4,5), Electric dulcimer (5,9), piano
Linda Thompson – vocals
Timi Donald – drums
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar
Simon Nicol – guitar, piano, Hammond organ (8), vocals (7)
John Kirkpatrick – accordion (1,3,4,10)
Ian Whiteman – piano, calliope (9)
Sidonie Goossens – harp (9)
Aly Bain – fiddle (1,3)
The CWS Silver Band (6,10)


Pour Down Like Silver

Richard & Linda Thompson released their third duo album, Pour Down Like Silver, in November 1975 on Island.

1. “Streets of Paradise” (4:17)
2. “For Shame of Doing Wrong” (4:44)
3. “The Poor Boy Is Taken Away” (3:35)
4. “Night Comes In” (8:12)

5. “Jet Plane in a Rocking Chair” (2:48)
6. “Beat the Retreat” (5:52)
7. “Hard Luck Stories” (3:51)
8. “Dimming of the Day”/”Dargai” (7:16)

Recorded Summer 1975
Studio Sound Techniques, London
Producer Richard Thompson, John Wood

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin (3,7), banjo (8), Appalachian dulcimer (3,6), Hammered dulcimer (4), harmonium (8), electric piano (8)
Linda Thompson – vocals
Timi Donald – drums (3–6,8)
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar (3–6,8)
Dave Mattacks – drums (1,2,7)
Dave Pegg – bass guitar (1,2,7)
John Kirkpatrick – accordion (1,2,5,7), concertina
Ian Whiteman – flute (5,8), shakuhachi (6)
Aly Bain – fiddle (2,5)
Nic Jones – fiddle (2,5)
Henry Lowther – trumpet
Clare Lowther – cello (2,5)
Jack Brymer – clarinet (8


First Light

Richard & Linda Thompson released their fourth duo album, First Light, in October 1978 on Chrysalis.

1. “Restless Highway” (3:52)
2. “Sweet Surrender” (4:40)
3. “Don’t Let a Thief Steal Into Your Heart” (4:38(
4. “The Choice Wife” (2:30) traditional, arranged by Richard Thompson
5. “Died for Love” (6:30)
6. “Strange Affair” (3:05)
7. “Layla” (4:17)
8. “Pavanne” (5:00)
9. “House of Cards” (3:24)
10. “First Light” (4:17)

Studio Olympic Studios, London, 1978
Producer Richard Thompson, John Wood

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin, dulcimer, whistle, guitar synthesizer
Linda Thompson – vocals
Andy Newmark – drums
Willie Weeks – bass guitar
Neil Larsen – keyboards
John Kirkpatrick – accordion
Chris Karen – percussion
Dave Mattacks – percussion
Dolores Keane – whistle
Dave Brady, Heather Brady, Dave Burland, Bill Caddick, Philippa Clare, Julie Covington, Andy Fairweather Low, Trevor Lucas, Iain Matthews, Maddy Prior and Peta Webb – background vocals


Sunnyvista

Richard & Linda Thompson released their fifth duo album, Sunnyvista, in October 1979 on Chrysalis.

1. “Civilisation” (4:45)
2. “Borrowed Time” (5:34)
3. “Saturday Rolling Around” (3:20)
4. “You’re Going to Need Somebody” (3:56)
5. “Why Do You Turn Your Back?” (5:08)

6. “Sunnyvista” (4:30)
7. “Lonely Hearts” (5:00)
8. “Sisters” (4:47)
9. “Justice in the Streets” (4:00)
10. “Traces of My Love” (4:00)

Studio Olympic Studios, London, 1979
Producer Richard Thompson, John Wood

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin, hammered dulcimer Roland guitar, synthesizer
Linda Thompson – vocals
Michael Spencer-Arscott – drums (later with Gregory Hoskins and the Stickpeople)
Dave Pegg – bass guitar
Timi Donald – drums, percussion (formerly with Blue)
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar on “Traces of My Love”
Pete Wingfield – keyboards
Rabbit Bundrick – keyboards on “Why Do You Turn Your Back?” and “Traces of My Love”
John Kirkpatrick – accordion, triangle
Bruce Lynch – bass guitar on “Justice in the Streets”
Dave Mattacks – drums on “Justice in the Streets”
Luís Jardim – percussion
Sue Harris – oboe, hammered dulcimer
Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Glenn Tilbrook, Julian Littman, Marc Ellington, Olive Simpson, Nicole Tibbels, Lindsay Benton, David Beavan, Gerry Rafferty, Hafsa Abdul Jabbas, Abdu Rahim – backing vocals

Andy Lunn – assistant engineer
Peter Wagg – art direction
Gered Mankowitz – photography


Strict Tempo!

Richard Thompson released his second solo album, Strict Tempo!, in September 1981 on Elixir Records.

1. “New-Fangled Flogging Reel/Kerry Reel”
2. “Vaillance Polka Militaire/Belfast Polka”
3. “Glencoe/Scott Skinner’s Rockin’ Step/Bonny Banchory” (James Scott Skinner, not credited)
4. “Banish Misfortune”
5. “Dundee Hornpipe/Poppy-Leaf Hornpipe”
6. “Do It For My Sake”
7. “Rockin’ In Rhythm” (Duke Ellington)
8. “The Random Jig/The Grinder”
9. “Will Ye No Cam Back Again”
10. “Cam O’er The Stream Charlie/Ye Banks And Braes”
11. “Rufty Tufty/Nonsuch à la Mode de France”
12. “Andalus/Radio Marrakesh”
13. “The Knife-Edge” (Richard Thompson)


Shoot Out the Lights

Richard & Linda Thompson released their sixth and final duo album, Shoot Out the Lights, on March 15, 1982, on Hannibal Records.

1. “Don’t Renege on Our Love” (4:19)
2. “Walking on a Wire” (5:29)
3. “Man in Need” (3:36)
4. “Just the Motion” (6:19)

5. “Shoot Out the Lights” (5:24)
6. “Back Street Slide” (4:33)
7. “Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?” (4:52) Thompsons co-write
8. “Wall of Death” (3:43)

Recorded November 1981
Studio Olympic Studios, London
Producer Joe Boyd
Bill Gill – engineer

Richard Thompson – vocals, lead guitar, accordion, hammered dulcimer
Linda Thompson – vocals
Simon Nicol – rhythm guitar
Dave Pegg – bass (3,6,7,8)
Pete Zorn – bass (1,2,4,5 and all of the 2010 deluxe edition live disc), backing vocals
David Mattacks – drums

Additional personnel
The Watersons (Norma, Mike, Lal and Martin Carthy) – backing vocals
Clive Gregson – backing vocals
Stephen Corbett – cornet
Brian Jones – cornet
Phil Goodwin – tuba
Stephen Barnett – trombone
Mark Cutts – trombone

Gered Mankowitz – cover photography

“Don’t Renege on Our Love” / “Living in Luxury” (2:32)
Released: April 1982


Post-Duo Solo Career


Hand of Kindness

Richard Thompson released his third solo album, Hand of Kindness, in June 1983 on Hannibal.

1. “Tear-Stained Letter” (4:42)
2. “How I Wanted To” (5:12)
3. “Both Ends Burning” (3:51)
4. “A Poisoned Heart and a Twisted Memory” (5:25)
5. “Where the Wind Don’t Whine” (4:09) b-side included as CD bonus track
6. “The Wrong Heartbeat” (3:15)
7. “Hand of Kindness” (6:03)
8. “Devonside” (4:46)
9. “Two Left Feet” (3:53)

Recorded 1983
Studio Olympic Studios, London
Ocean Way, Hollywood
Producer Joe Boyd

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals
Dave Pegg – bass guitar
Dave Mattacks – drums
Simon Nicol – guitar
Pete Zorn – saxophone, backing vocals
Pete Thomas – saxophone
John Hiatt, Bobby King and Clive Gregson – backing vocals
John Kirkpatrick – accordion, concertina
Aly Bain – violin


Across a Crowded Room

Richard Thompson released his fourth solo album, Across a Crowded Room, in April 1985 on Polydor.

1. “When the Spell Is Broken” (4:31)
2. “You Don’t Say” (3:35)
3. “I Ain’t Going to Drag My Feet No More” (4:22)
4. “Love in a Faithless Country” (5:55)
5. “Fire in the Engine Room” (3:39)
6. “Walking Through a Wasted Land” (4:01)
7. “Little Blue Number” (3:04)
8. “She Twists the Knife Again” (3:12)
9. “Ghosts in the Wind” (5:39)

Recorded September and October 1984
Studio RAK Studios, London
Producer Joe Boyd
Jack Nuber – engineering
Greg Jackman and Jerry Boys – remix engineering
Chris Dickie – assistant engineering

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals
Simon Nicol – guitar
Dave Mattacks – drums
Bruce Lynch – bass guitar
Dave Bitelli [de] – alto saxophone
Pete Thomas – tenor saxophone
Christine Collister, Phil Barnes, Clive Gregson and The Soultanas – backing vocals
Alan Dunn – accordion
Philip Pickett – shawm, crumhorn, recorder and symphony

Dennis Keely – back cover photography
Phil Smee and Donato Cinicolo – front cover photography
Phil Smee at Waldo’s – cover design


Daring Adventures

Richard Thompson released his fifth solo album, Daring Adventures, in June 1986 on Polydor.

1. “A Bone Through Her Nose”
2. “Valerie”
3. “Missie How You Let Me Down”
4. “Dead Man’s Handle”
5. “Long Dead Love”
6. “Lover’s Lane”
7. “Nearly In Love”
8. “Jennie”
9. “Baby Talk”
10. “Cash Down, Never Never”
11 .”How Will I Ever Be Simple Again”
12. “Al Bowlly’s in Heaven”

Recorded 1986
Studio Sunset Sound, Los Angeles
Producer Mitchell Froom

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin, dulcimer, theremin
Mitchell Froom – keyboards, theremin
Jerry Scheff – bass guitar, double bass
Mickey Curry – drums
Jim Keltner – drums
Alex Acuña – percussion
Christine Collister and Clive Gregson – backing vocals
John Kirkpatrick – accordion, concertina
Philip Pickett – shawm, crumhorn, recorder and symphony.
Chuck Fleming – fiddle
Brian Taylor, Tony Goddard, David Horn, Ian Peters – brass


Amnesia

Richard Thompson released his sixth solo album, Amnesia, in October 1988 on Capitol.

1. “Turning of the Tide” (2:55)
2. “Gypsy Love Songs” (6:14)
3. “Reckless Kind” (4:23)
4. “Jerusalem on the Jukebox” (4:08)
5. “I Still Dream” (5:09)
6. “Don’t Tempt Me” (3:35)
7. “Yankee, Go Home” (3:05)
8. “Can’t Win” (5:28)
9. “Waltzing’s for Dreamers” (4:06)
10. “Pharaoh” (4:24)

Recorded 1988
Studio Sunset Sound, Los Angeles and Konk Studios, London
Producer Mitchell Froom

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, mandolin, hammer dulcimer
Mitchell Froom – portative organ, regal, Chamberlin, stereophonic Optigan, electric harp, organ, producer
Jerry Scheff – bass guitar on 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, & 10
Tony Levin – bass guitar, stick on 3, 6, & 8
Mickey Curry – drums on 2, 3, 6, 7, 8
Jim Keltner – drums on 1, 4, 5, 10
Alex Acuña – percussion
Christine Collister – backing vocals
Clive Gregson – backing vocals
John Kirkpatrick – accordion, Anglo-concertina, bass vocals
Philip Pickett – shawm, recorder, curtal, Peking that, bass racket
Aly Bain – fiddle on 9
Brian Taylor – cornet on 5 (Fairey Band)
Tony Goddard – cornet on 5 (Fairey Band)
David Horn – tenor horn on 5 (Fairey Band)
Ian Peters – euphonium on 5 (Fairey Band)
Fred Tackett – acoustic guitar on 8
Frances Kelly – baroque harp
Danny Thompson – double bass on 9
Alistair Anderson – Northumbrian pipes

Tchad Blake – recordist
Mike Kloster – 2nd engineer
Ted Patterson – 2nd engineer
Bob Ludwig – mastering
Hugh Brown – cover art and photography


Discography:

  • Henry the Human Fly (1972)
  • I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • Hokey Pokey (1975 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • Pour Down Like Silver (1975 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • First Light (1978 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • Sunnyvista (1979 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • Strict Tempo! (1981)
  • Shoot Out the Lights (1982 • Richard & Linda Thompson)
  • Hand of Kindness (1983)
  • Variations on a Theme (1983 • David Thomas & The Pedestrians with Richard Thompson)
  • Across a Crowded Room (1985)
  • Daring Adventures (1986)
  • Live, Love, Larf & Loaf (1987 • French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
  • Amnesia (1988)
  • Rumor and Sigh (1991)

Sources:

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