Roy Harper

Roy Harper (born June 12, 1941) is an English folk-rock singer/songwriter and guitarist from Rusholme, Greater Manchester, who released an album apiece on Strike, CBS, and Liberty between 1967 and 1969, followed by a run of eight studio albums and a collaborate effort on Harvest between 1970 and 1980. The subsequent decades yielded further albums on EMI, Science Fiction, and Awareness Records.

Harper was born on June 12, 1941, in Rusholme, outer Manchester. His mother, Muriel, died when he was three weeks old. From age six, he was raised in St Annes on Sea by his father and stepmother, whose fundamentalism stirred his later atheism.

At age 12, he took up poetry and started listening to blues and skiffle music. He formed his first group, De Boys, at age 14 with his two brothers, David and Harry.

In 1956, 15-year-old Harper joined the Royal Air Force to become a pilot. After two years, he lost interest in the discipline and feigned madness to get a discharge. Instead, he was given electroconvulsive therapy and sent to the Lancaster Moor Mental Institute, which he escaped after one day. He spent the early 1960s busking around London, Europe, and Northern Africa.

Harper immersed himself in music, absorbing blues (Leadbelly, Big Billy Broonzy), folk (Woody Guthrie), jazz (Miles Davis), and classical (Sibelius). His lyrics drew from 19th century Romantics (Shelley, Keats) and recent Beat poets (Kerouac). In 1965, he got a residency at Les Cousins, a folk club in London’s Soho district, where he alternated nights with fellow up-and-comers Bert Jansch and John Renbourn.


  • The Sophisticated Beggar (1966)
  • Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith (1967)
  • Folkjokeopus (1969)
  • Flat Baroque and Berserk (1970)
  • Stormcock (1971)
  • Lifemask (1973)
  • Valentine (1974)
  • Flashes From the Archives of Oblivion (1974)
  • HQ (1975)
  • Commercial Breaks (1977 • Roy Harper & Black Sheep)
  • Bullinamingvase (1977)
  • The Unknown Soldier (1980)
  • Work of Heart (1982 • The Roy Harper Band)
  • Born in Captivity (1984)
  • Whatever Happened to Jugula? (1985 • Roy Harper & Jimmy Page)
  • … Descendant of Smith (1988)
  • Loony on the Bus (1988)
  • Once (1990)
  • Burn the World (1990)


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