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, followed by a run of nine studio albums between 1970 and 1980 on Harvest. The subsequent decades yielded further albums on EMI, Science Fiction, and Awareness Records.

Early Life

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

Roy Harper released his debut album, The Sophisticated Beggar, in 1966 on Strike.

Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith

Roy Harper released his second album, Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith, in 1967 on CBS.


Roy Harper released his third album, Folkjokeopus, on June 5, 1969, on Liberty.

Flat Baroque and Berserk

Roy Harper released his fourth album, Flat Baroque and Berserk, on June 15, 1970, on Harvest.


Roy Harper released his fifth album, Stormcock, in May 1971 on Harvest.


Roy Harper released his sixth album, Lifemask, in February 1973 on Harvest.


Roy Harper released his seventh album, Valentine, on February 14, 1974, on Harvest.

Flashes From the Archives of Oblivion

In 1974, Roy Harper released the live double-album Flashes From the Archives of Oblivion.


Roy Harper released his eighth studio album, HQ, in June 1975 on Harvest.


Roy Harper released his ninth album, Bullinamingvase, on February 11, 1977, on Harvest.

Commercial Breaks

In late 1977, Roy Harper and his backing band Black Sheep recorded Commercial Breaks, slated for a 1978 release as his tenth studio album. The intended album (Harvest cat. # SHSP 4077) remained vaulted until 1994 when it appeared on Harper’s Science Fiction label.

The Unknown Soldier

Roy Harper released his tenth chronological album, The Unknown Soldier, in 1980 on Harvest.

Work of Heart

Roy Harper released his eleventh studio album, Work of Heart, in 1982 on self-press Public Records.

Born in Captivity

Roy Harper released his twelfth studio album, Born in Captivity, in 1984 on self-press Hardup.

Whatever Happened to Jugula?

On March 4, 1985, Roy Harper and Jimmy Page released the collaborative album Whatever Happened to Jugula? on Beggars Banquet.


  • 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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