Tuesday 7 May 2024

GIORGIO GOMELSKY: A SORT OF HISTORICAL MONUMENT

Born on February 28th 1934, Giorgio Gomelsky was at the heart of the British pop business in the 1960s. Amongst much else, he ran influential nightclubs, managed the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds (influencing their stagecraft and, in the latter’s case, repertoire), founded Marmalade Records, ran Paragon Publicity from within Polydor, and produced and championed Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, John McLaughlin and others. 

 

This interview was conducted by Philippe Paringaux for the monthly French magazine Rock & Folk, and appeared in their July 1970 issue. It’s hard to date, but refers to Marmalade in the past tense, so must be from the end of 1969 at the earliest.

 

In any case, it’s the longest I’ve ever seen with Giorgio, and touches on a number of intriguing matters, such as his relationship with the Stones (and contempt for Brian Jones), his reflections on the music industry and predictions for its future (alas, mostly wrong). He also finds time to insult the Bee Gees, who'd occupied a huge amount of attention at Polydor / Paragon.

 

At the tail-end of the decade he decamped to Paris, from where he assessed the years behind and plotted those ahead: in the short term, managing and producing Magma and Gong preoccupied him. As of the late 70s he lived in New York, where he remained a live wire, constantly looking for ways to innovate and shake up the arts scene. 

 

I never met him, but knew him a little: we occasionally spoke and emailed. Alas I found it almost impossible to extract hard information from him, as he was so prone to digressing and enthusing about his many ideas and schemes. He died on January 13th 2016 without publishing the autobiography he occasionally mentioned, though a biography of him by Francis Dumaurier was published last year. (I have yet to read it.) 

 

I suspect this piece might be the most detailed statement he ever made in print, grandiose and vague though many of his remarks are. The translation is mine; I've added a few background details in square brackets.


‘Mad Russian intellectual’. That’s how Eric Burdon described Giorgio Gomelsky on the cover of one of his albums. Giorgio is more than just a showbiz character: he’s a sort of historical monument who never forgot to be a human being too: funny, unpredictable, exciting and passionate. He was the one who first understood what pop would represent for England and the whole world, at a time when no one wanted to hear about it. 

 

Giorgio is often disappointed, because he is more artist than businessman, but never bitter, and his faith is just as intact as in the early days when he discovered the Rolling Stones, the Animals or the Yardbirds. And not the least quality of this Russian-Italian-French-Anglo-Swiss is knowing how to raise a discussion well above the level of simple anecdote: “Clapton’s first zits, who cares!”  

 

We listen to his latest production: drummer John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Structured free jazz - another Gomelskian paradox. A little later he removes the record from the turntable, “because music must be listened to with all possible attention”… 

 

You see, what annoys me in this business is that things always go the same way. You hear something like that, which is fantastic, you go to any record company, where people are supposed to listen to records, you play it to them, and after thirty seconds they’ve switched off. They immediately click away in their heads because they don't think this is a musical language record companies should offer the public. Ultimately, the thing that interests record companies the least in the world is music. The prestige, the glory of the catalogue, the money - yes. But not the music. Ninety percent of their profits come from mainstream music, but they haven’t yet grasped that from the mainstream is born music that isn’t mainstream. And the reason I wanted to record John Stevens is that I am convinced that what is happening today in his head, and in those of the thousand people who listen to him or play like him, will pass through the heads of tens of thousands of people tomorrow. 

 

And what's more, this music, which costs less than mainstream to make, will last a little more than the usual week... I have nothing against consumer music, there is a place for it. I have nothing against Mireille Mathieu, Engelbert Humperdinck or Tom Jones. Shit, it works, fine, hats off, there's a place for it. But such music doesn't engage anything or anyone on a serious level, you see?  

 

Do you really like it?  

No. Truthfully, I don't think it's good, but I understand that it works for some people, for certain reasons. But speaking for myself, I wouldn't know where to start if I had to make a record with Tom Jones. But I’m not expressing myself very well, because I know Tom and he’s a fantastic guy with a lot of soul. If he had only been allowed to do things his way, he would have become bigger than Elvis. But after two or three hits, the business grabbed him – bow tie, tuxedo and all – and damn, off he went to Las Vegas.  

 

That’s the problem with artistic freedom - an artist has to choose his career direction for himself. It’s a personality thing, I guess.  

Sure. For example, Tom Jones is a very simple man, very loyal, he listened to what his manager [Gordon Mills] told him and now makes consumer music. It's a shame, just as it's a shame for Jose Feliciano, who has the phrasing, voice and sensitivity to be a great artist. And what did they do with him? Bah! Plasticised, with a nice bow wrapped around him and packed off to Las Vegas.

 

Have you ever dealt with that kind of music?   

One thing I’ve always believed is, what’s cutting edge today will be popular tomorrow. Commercial isn't the right word, but... communicable. I’m passionate about the problem of communication. The problem is not so much communicating with the largest possible number of people as communicating things that have value. Every time I took care of an artist or a group, it was because I thought they had something valuable about them, something that deserved to be heard. This is the case today with John Stevens or Julie Driscoll, it was the case with Brian Auger, with John McLaughlin, with the Yardbirds, with the Stones. For the latter, I trudged around the record companies with tapes and I got kicked out. 

 

So, what’s valuable about these artists, what’s important? Their sincere commitment. I can recognise people who have something to say, and I help those people. That's why I reject the insensitivity of the music industry establishment. They are only just starting to wake up, to understand the importance of the underground revolution. It's real, but they’ve only just started to accept what was already a fait accompli – they don’t have to make the revolution happen, all they have to do is go along with it. I tried to spark this revolution with Marmalade, but Polydor didn’t understand. 

 

You ask why I don't produce a group like, say, the Bee Gees? It’s impossible for me! I hate the Bee Gees and all groups of that type, who have nothing original to contribute (except, to be fair two or three songs that are original and classics, like ‘To Love Somebody’), who make music without putting the slightest bit of soul into it.  

 

And you thought the Stones had something to contribute, like John Stevens now? 

Listen: I’d always been an observer of the music scene, but had never been in the music business. I was in theatre, radio, television, cinema, journalism, I was interested in all means of communication because I thought there would soon be a new profession: that of ‘communicator’. This, in my mind, implies two things: a careful evaluation of what’s worth communicating, and perfect possession of the techniques for doing so. 

 

What I consider valid is of course subjective, since I judge according to my own aesthetic criteria, but it is also objective insofar as I have studied everything that has happened before in this field, from Greek tragedy to Russian literature via Elizabethan theatre and French novelists. I believe that there is an important goal: to distinguish between what has permanent value as a means of expression, of communication, and what has an impermanent, transitory value. 

 

Once you’ve made this selection of everything that has been valid in the past (not everything that is considered ‘classic’ is necessarily valid, but the work of Beethoven, for example, undoubtedly is, and Bach is more important than Vivaldi), one has to develop the main lines of the development of artistic expression. But it isn’t simple, because it’s about communicating what’s valid to people who have the means to then communicate it to the public. 

 

I see the effort of today's communicator as the supreme educational effort. Educating people is the essential condition for our society to become intellectually rich. And this education should not be reserved for a privileged few. There are people who only look at existing formulas, not necessarily new ones, and who clutter the means of communication with by-products. The real job of a producer like me is to develop and direct the flourishing of something which has essential life to it, validity, and not to compromise or imitate. After all, the work, the main result, comes from inside the artist, and you can’t copy the inside. 

 

We must find within our artists something equivalent to the value perceived in all the other ‘classic’ artists, which will be deemed equally valid. Imitation is useless. That was my problem with the Yardbirds, after the Stones. The Yardbirds could have imitated the Stones and it wouldn't have worked, because the way the Stones played their music was already individualised, personalised. So the Yardbirds had to take another path within what was called ‘rhythm and blues’ in England, in order to establish themselves on their own. At the end of this search, they were treading paths on which the Stones never set foot. 

 

How do you go, in seven years, from the Stones to John Stevens? 

Let me tell you something: my first love was gypsy music, when I lived in Persia. My father, who came from the Caucasus, was a doctor there, and he loved music to the point of bringing gypsies to our house every day. I perceived a sort of immense despair in them, which they expressed by playing an instrument on a chord sequence (which, incidentally, is very hard to do). There would be five or six of them with just one violin between them, and those waiting listened to the one playing, sweating more and more, until they ended up snatching up the instrument to play like crazy, with incredible spontaneity. 

 

Later I found this spontaneity in jazz, which you could hear almost everywhere during our wanderings through wartime Europe. I gave lectures on Duke Ellington in a Benedictine college, at the age of twelve, and they told me (even those who were musicians): “Sure, it’s very good, but it’s not part of our civilisation.” I immediately rebelled against this concept. I thought: they’re human beings, therefore they’re part of our civilisation! 

 

So I studied jazz, and came to understand that it was going to become the voice of the youth of my generation. I am, more than anything else, sensitive to the emotion that emerges from art, and I’m convinced that we can only understand an art if we understand its emotion, not its language. I found an emotion in jazz improvisation that I understood at once. 

 

I always regretted not being a musician. During my wanderings I had around fifteen piano teachers, and I asked all of them to teach me chords, so I could improvise. They slapped my fingers. Music theory! 

 

Later, I started to consider music’s social dimension: what it could do for its time, what the public could do for the musicians. And that's the only reason I got into this business - I never intended to become a manager or a producer. If I took care of the Stones, it's only because no one else wanted to do it. It was at a time when English jazz had become too imitative and was losing its audience, and something new was needed. I'm glad I stuck my nose into it, because I wasn't wrong. 

 

I was making films about jazz. One day in 1949, I saw this great classic called Jammin' the Blues [a 1944 short] and noticed that while Lester Young and Illinois Jacquet were blowing like crazy on screen, you could also see Lester Young leaning on his sax at the back of the stage. It was a photographer's film, not a jazz lover's film. That day I decided that I would one day make the first proper film about live jazz. For me, the work of a jazzman, like that of any creative individual, could be of real cinematic interest. 

 

I made my film in 1955, in England, for Italian television (I was living in Italy). [No proper details of this film appear to have resurfaced.]  I fell in love with England, which is perhaps the only country where the individual can live in peace with himself and others, and I have remained there ever since. The dialectic of everyday life is simpler in England than in any other country in the world. 

 

So there I was, a jazz critic, when the Stones came and asked me to take care of them. And I did it - not to make money, but for the pleasure of showing all the people who were in the communication business that they had missed a trick. 

 

As a jazz lover, did you like what they were doing? 

I’ve always loved the blues, which forms the basis of all jazz. I studied it, its musical customs, and especially the musicians themselves, who have always fascinated me. Maybe it's a gift, I don't know, but after five minutes of listening to and talking with a musician, I can tell if he has something to say. Being a musician is a bit like being a priest: it requires enormous discipline and restraint, as well as a total dedication to one's art. I saw that the Stones had something to say.

 

Speaking of restraint and showbusiness...

Its absence, often total, has killed many things and will kill many people. But people are starting to understand, and I believe that drug use has a lot to do with it. Musicians have come away from hallucinogenic experiences with more self-awareness than they had when they first tried drugs, and many, thanks to the bad trips they’ve had, are now better able to cope with themselves. 

 

Anyway, in short, I felt that something was happening in England in 1961. Many other jazz critics understood this too, and we launched the pop wave. In short, in the era of Marty Wilde and Helen Shapiro, we bit the bullet.  It became a ‘profession’ a little later, thanks to the reality of things. The beginnings with the Stones were difficult - eight months of misery. I started the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond with five quid! I think there are now very few English groups that I haven't helped, but I didn't get rich and I don't care.  

 

Why didn't you become rich, like the other guys who came along well after you?

Because I was interested in music and musicians, not money. At that time I’d never seen a contract in my life. Brian Jones was always telling me, ‘Giorgio, there should be a contract between you and us - everyone else has one,’ and I answered, ‘Brian, I'll take care of you, okay? We’re friends, we’re in this together, we don’t need a contract’. He was so insistent that I went to see my friend Ronan O'Rahilly (from Radio Caroline), because at eighteen he already had two Rolls Royces, so I thought he must know about such matters! Well, he didn't know anything about it, so I gave up. 

 

With the Stones, we were in this club for which we paid a pound a night. It was the back room of a pub, in fact. [The Station Hotel, Richmond ] Just as music is born in cellars in France, music in England is born in pubs: they all have a small back room that they rent out in the hope that the audience will drink a lot of beer. We started like that in Richmond. More and more people came, but despite our best efforts it remained a local phenomenon. I therefore convinced a friend of mine, the music critic from the Daily Mirror [Patrick Doncaster], to come one evening. He came on a Sunday. On Monday, we had a full page in the Daily Mirror: ‘MUSICAL REVOLUTION IN RICHMOND!’. [Actually Thursday, June 13th 1963, and headlined ‘TWITCHING THE NIGHT AWAY’] 

 

Bang! The pub belonged to a very large chain, and the manager of the chain had us kicked out immediately, for fear of scandal. You know, long hair, degeneracy, etc. So we found another place, under the stand of the Richmond Athletic Association, home of the two snobbiest rugby clubs in London, and the Royal Horse Show. It turns out that the guy who ran it was one of those English characters, a retired soldier, eccentric enough to say, ‘Yes, let's have a go! Why not?’ 

 

We then went from three hundred to fifteen hundred spectators. The first evening I came home with the cash register and counted three hundred pounds, I couldn't believe it. The Stones and I were fifty-fifty: I called them to tell them that they had made a hundred and fifty pounds. They were speechless! At the very beginning they’d been earning a pound each, and considered themselves lucky to find work at that price. I had developed a little circuit of clubs for them, little by little - but a hundred and fifty pounds was incredible! 

 

And then, on May 3rd 1963, I received a telegram telling me that my father had died in Switzerland, where he was doing cancer research. I left and Andrew Oldham, who’d been working with Brian Epstein, took the opportunity to sign a contract with them. It was a blow at the time - but that was the style of Brian Jones, who was the real leader of the group at that time. He was a really sick guy who suffered from a terrible persecution complex and had absolutely no respect for anything or anyone - totally amoral. 

 

His pettiness was absolutely unbelievable, and several times I had to kick him out of my house, notably when, after living with a poor girl and making her keep him for a year, he abandoned her and her child as soon as he started earning a little money. He was a very bad guy, an evil guy, who sowed disaster everywhere he went. He was a neuropath who suffered from mental illness to a very acute degree and should have sought treatment. You know how he ended up… 

 

Anyway, when I came back [from Switzerland], I told them that since they didn't want to work with me anymore, they wouldn't be welcome at the Crawdaddy anymore. They got down on their knees to beg me to let them keep playing there! I signed a compensation contract with them - a contract they absolutely disregarded. There’s been no redress from that day to this, so if I felt like it... But it was at that moment that I understood that it wasn't just goodwill and ideas that counted, you also had to know how to look after yourself. I therefore decided to consider the problem from the perspective of the recording industry. The Stones moved from Richmond and the Yardbirds started at the Crawdaddy two weeks later. It worked. 

 

And ultimately the Stones were fooled too, by Allen Klein, the Beatles' businessman. As for Oldham, he has just gone bankrupt for two hundred thousand pounds with his Immediate Records.  

 

How did you discover these groups? Were they already all jostling for space on stage? 

No. There were very few - four or five - and only two or three of us in the whole country who were interested in them. It happened like this: one evening I was at the Marquee, then a jazz club, and a guy called Mike Jeffries came up to me with a huge Grundig. In it were the first Animals tapes. I immediately decided that the Yardbirds should do the Animals' gigs in Newcastle and the Animals should do the Yardbirds' gigs in London. So there was Mike, Bob Wooller at the Cavern in Liverpool, Ronan O'Rahilly and me taking an interest in this kind of music. 

 

And Epstein.

Yes, there was Epstein - but he didn't really understand any of that. One day two hundred girls came into his store to ask for a record by a group he hadn’t heard of. He called every label in London and eventually discovered that the group had made this record in Germany, for Polydor. He ordered two hundred copies, which sold out in an hour, then another two hundred, which sold out in half-an-hour. In the end he sold two thousand. It was then that he went down to the Cavern to see what this phenomenon was. An accident, of sorts. Brian was a weird guy - a failed actor, gay, very indecisive. 

 

How did you meet the Yardbirds?

They came to the Crawdaddy to ask if they could open for the Stones. I wanted to demonstrate that what I had achieved once, I could achieve twice. 

 

What’s the attitude of such groups, in general, when they start?

All artists are the same in the beginning, but they change quickly - and that's the great tragedy of the pop world. At the start they’re all modest and shy, and you’re the greatest man in the world when you find them work, you’re a genius when you have them make their first record. When they start making money and you take ten percent of it, you're the worst monster in the world. It happened just like that with the Yardbirds, and Paul Samwell-Smith admits today: ‘The biggest mistake we made was leaving Giorgio’. But I've had this problem with a lot of artists - Brian Auger in particular. 

 

The problem with many musicians is that they don't have ideas. My role is to be both on stage and in the audience. I’m my artists’ number one fan, and at the same time their worst critic. After a show I like being able to tell them what was wrong. But when they see two thousand people cheering them madly, they deduce that everything is perfect, that there’s nothing to complain about - even if it isn't really going well at all. The Yardbirds weren’t aware of anything beyond the moment. They didn’t anticipate the problems that would be created by going from two thousand to twenty thousand spectators, when they went to America. 

 

I knew that we had to simplify their music, to work out how to communicate, to create a few effects, to give their improvisations a solid basis, etc. This is what Cream understood – they made their moves very carefully and told themselves, from the start, that they were going to become millionaires. And this is what Led Zeppelin is doing with an even greater vengeance, but less artistic imagination. 

 

Artists are rarely grateful for what you do for them. When I met Brian Auger, he was playing five hours a night in a club for two quid! Unbelievable! And I managed, in a very short space of time, to get him on the bill at the Berlin Jazz Festival, along with Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, etc. I said to myself, ‘I’ve worked hard for Brian Auger, I’ve put him where he wanted to be’. And I was willing, at that point, to continue with him. He wanted to separate from Julie? Okay. But Brian is a coward, and indecisive. He did a deal behind my back. Result: the record he has just made for RCA lacks soul and, above all, ideas. 

 

Yep, musicians often lack ideas. The ones who had it in the Yardbirds were Paul Samwell-Smith (a real musician), Clapton (who just needed to be left alone to play) and me. So we operated on that basis, and the others felt excluded and formed factions. The most terrible thing for the unity of a group are long trips where you have nothing to do but examine the actions of others under a microscope - especially the manager’s. At the end of the day artists always feel mortified, humiliated, I don't know what, and come out with remarks like, ‘You tell me what to do, but you’re not the one who’s on stage!’. They don't understand that, like a theatre director, my role is essential. Or they realise it too late. 

 

In fact, the problem is that the role of a manager still isn’t clearly defined. With Epstein and myself, a new era in management began: we were partners of the artists and no longer exploiters. As far as I'm concerned, it's because I'm more of an artist than a businessman, and if I help all these people, it's because no one helped me. My long-term plan was to found a community of artists where everyone owned the same number of shares. This was the philosophy of Paragon and Marmalade, and where Polydor understood nothing. 

 

Our office was warm and happy, but we grew too quickly and I couldn't take care of everything: admin, music, shows, publicity, recording, photography, management, touring, etc. There are so many problems, so many details. At the time of the Yardbirds, Clapton had not yet found a guitar that satisfied him and was changing it all the time: two hundred and fifty quid a pop. And there was our travel agency, to whom we often owed up to twenty-five thousand pounds! For all these problems, even small ones, you need a very solid organisation, and Polydor didn’t honour its promise to help us in this regard. This meant that, after a while, we no longer knew where we were. 

 

Here we touch on the problem, new in France but five years old in England, of the collaboration of the independent with the industry. The mechanism of the major record companies is such that it cannot accommodate the individual who’s only concerned with the music. The main principle of record companies is turnover, and they don't care whether they make a million dollars by releasing ten records or by releasing a thousand. This inevitably leads to enormous artistic and human difficulties. 

 

I worked for three years with a major record company, and I understood the mentality of these people. I was in meetings at the highest levels of the second largest music corporation in the world, and the last thing anyone talked about was music! A lot of political problems come into play that have nothing to do with music. For example, one day I was surprised to learn that we’d paid five thousand pounds for a session with an artist who was clearly talentless and had zero chance of selling a single record. I realised that we were doing it because the producer concerned was also producing a well-known group who were signed elsewhere, but who we hoped might defect to us. 

 

But a revolution is now underway, and big companies like CBS have understood and are giving freedom to people who know where the talent is and how to make it flourish. What’s happened in cinema will happen in the record business: the big companies will become distributors - not even promoters, because independents understand how to promote their artists much better than they do. One example: in our company, we had, for England, the Polydor, Elektra, Atlantic and Buddah catalogues, our own products and a few others. All added together, this allowed for an annual promotion budget of five francs per artist. Go promote with five francs! 

 

It's the saturation system: take a little mud and throw it at the wall. If it sticks, great, otherwise we start again. So what’s needed is selection, which makes it possible to finance the development of the artist. CBS does this in the pragmatic American way, which puts an end to the tricks of record companies who pay you royalties on half a million records when you’ve actually sold a million, because they depend on the wholesalers, who don't really care. If you have a hit in the USA, we won't pay you! And we’ll only pay half of what we owe if you have a second hit! 

 

Furthermore, the bidding of record companies for groups is absolutely frightening: they’ll pay up to six hundred thousand dollars as an advance for a group that has never recorded before! Elektra, which is smart, doesn’t do that: it selects according to quality. Result: out of a hundred albums they’ve recorded, sixty have charted. This is what we independents must do: be more selective. The leisure industry, and therefore the record industry, will be the biggest business of the 1970s: it has to be revolutionised, and from within, because though the system doesn’t accept violence, it does tolerate profit. And when you can show that the MC5, a revolutionary group from Detroit, can sell a million records, well, everyone will want to have the MC5. Look at the new wave of American films that violently criticise the American system and are making millions everywhere: capitalists understand this and finance them. 

 

Unwitting suicide?            

No, because what makes American capitalism so incredibly strong is that everything there is done by the system - even the revolution. The only possible exception is the Panthers. For the rest of us, the only way to go is through taste, evolution and sharing. Woodstock is a revolution in the history of the Twentieth Century, something that will not be forgotten. 

 

I am against physical violence. If you have to force people to listen to Zappa, I don't agree, but if it’s necessary to harangue broadcasters until they show the way in what is happening today, I agree. It comes back to the aesthetics of examining what’s valid in terms of communication, of continuity. Everything else must be allowed to exist, but categories must be forced to have points of reference. And if you want to be a man of communication, a group manager, a journalist or a disc jockey at peace with himself, you must dedicate yourself to the propagation of the true values that are reflected today in the work of certain artists, or in their intentions. By that means we will arrive at an evolution which will in fact be a revolution, as things are moving so quickly. John and Yoko, who might come across like idiots, are in fact making a non-violent revolution. 

 

In the old days in this business, you were only as good as your last record. That's over: we’re now as good as we are existentially. My dream was to make the Stones a moral, constructive force, to form with them, the Beatles and other great groups a movement with shared ideals. The Stones didn't understand that, but Lennon did, in a way. I wanted to create an academy (in the Greek sense of the term) of rock, with a common good in mind.  

 

Can you name a group, just one, that represents this ideal?

No. By carrying out a little social psychology at the level of four or five people working together, you realise that there are always three who support an idea, one who would support it if they had twenty quid more per week, and one that must be convinced through patience. But these people, people in general, don't want to sacrifice any aspect of their ego to become communal beings. I’ve always dreamed of taking care of a homogeneous group of people, but there’s always friction, a lack of a common goal. 

 

With Marmalade I was a millimetre away from success, because I didn't cheat anyone. It failed because of the Germans (Polydor) and their conception of work. They couldn't understand that we weren't in the office at ten in the morning - they didn't know that we all stayed together until five in the morning. 

 

Can the mentality of the pop musician be defined, roughly speaking?

As with everything, this varies according to the range of possibilities of the human being. There are people that fame doesn't touch, like Paul McCartney, Ringo, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman. They, on the contrary, have become better people, freer to be themselves. There are many others who become neurasthenic, persecuted. Some have found themselves facing great dilemmas, like Julie Driscoll, who’s a born star with magic inside her but thinks all this is too big a responsibility. Her challenge is to come to terms with it as a vocation. 

 

Julie’s the only artist I know who has the kind of penchant for Vestal purity that a guy like Dylan should have had but couldn't have, because of the American system, that the Beatles should have had but couldn't have because of the death of Brian Epstein, Klein and the shit with Apple, which the Stones should have had but didn't have because of their frenzied egocentrism, which Miles Davis couldn't have either because of his racial persecution complex. The problem is purely psychological. 

 

To say that an unhappy human being is automatically a good artist is false; to say that a being capable of suffering can create more emotionally endearing art - yes. The big question with groups is eliminating the false problems in order to tackle the real ones. The notion of a ‘star’ has changed recently. People no longer like a band for hysterical reasons, but for emotional and intellectual reasons - no one’s going to tear Pink Floyd's shirts off their backs. When five guys have a global audience of millions, they have a social responsibility they have to face. If they don't, they are cowards and people of little human value. 

 

I believe that the music of the 70s will tend towards the phenomenon of catharsis specific to Greek theatre, that the world will finally be a human world, governed by leaders who will be less and less gods and more and more men. Young artists are beginning to face their responsibilities. It's a question of character, of temperament. 

 

Each group exists on a very strange balance. Take Triangle, which is an interesting example: we find [Jean-Pierre] Prévotat, almost intellectual, very modest, Papillon [Gérard Fournier], instinctive, nervous, [Marius] Lorenzini, southern, expressive, and [François] Jeanneau, withdrawn, shy. This is what makes the balance of Triangle: intellect, instinct, emotion and purpose. And this balance gives me a lot of faith in this group, which will, if it holds up, be something important in the world. 

 

What shocked me about Magma was their incredible egocentrism; only monstres sacrés can get away with that - you have to have the talent of a Miles Davis, to be beyond all definition. These ego trips were initiated by marijuana and LSD, which taught humans who thought they knew everything a lot about themselves. And I believe that we are now entering a period of objective development after subjective development. It remains to wipe the slate clean of suspicion and prejudice. 

 

Money, then.

Yes. This is why we need excellent administration, which can, every week, show all the accounts to the artists. 

 

You will never prevent some artists from feeling frustrated, even if you show them, proof in hand, that you deserve your ten percent.

Yes - but such an artist won’t be able to work with anyone. When you buy a car, you go to someone who has one for sale, that seems obvious to me. It's a question of exchange, the artist must understand this. I clearly feel the moment coming when a new commercial system will be able to bring about the somewhat idealistic relationships that I am talking about now, which I’m not far from being able to formulate. 

 

After all, there are only two possibilities: that or exploitation. I refuse exploitation, I am for common enrichment. I believe that maturity is coming, that people have learned a lot in the last ten years. 

 

Have you been disappointed by musicians as human beings?

Yes, very, perhaps because I understood their self-defence system too quickly and couldn't accept it. In a sense I was disappointed in myself too, because I screwed projects up over moral principles. For example, this ‘family’ that I wanted to create when I started, which would have been active in all areas of communication. 

 

But all these problems have allowed me to examine my own methods, which may have been wrong. I don't want to accuse others without accusing myself too. Undoubtedly, at the start I was considering things at a level that hadn’t yet been reached. I wanted to help people evolve in a direction that required a discipline that they did not yet possess. But we’re all here to learn, to study life, and we shouldn't expect too much from others. 

 

Which musicians strike you as valuable on a human level?  

Paul McCartney, who’s a natural talent and a man of great righteousness of soul. Eric Burdon, who’s a confused kid. Alan Price, whom I respect enormously. Zoot Money, Georgie Fame, John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, who in my opinion is the greatest musician of this time, a man who has not yet shown a hundredth of his unimaginable talent, and especially Chris Barber, who is for me the most open man in the entire English profession. 

 

And those you admire solely as musicians? 

Oh, there are lots. Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, for example, for whom I have little sympathy as human beings. On the other hand, I really like Clapton. 

 

And the Beatles?

Yes, them too. They’re human beings, without a doubt, and perhaps that’s why they’re a little lost today. But I guarantee you that before a year is up they’ll be doing things together again - because they have the gift of being the Beatles, as if there were an umbilical cord between them. 

 

Do you think Allen Klein had anything to do with their separation? That he smelled the opportunity to make four times as much money?

No, that’s all a misunderstanding. John doesn't care about business at all, and nor does Paul, but for him it's a question of style, and Klein's style doesn't suit him. John doesn't even think Klein is capable of having a style. 

 

Coming back to musicians in general, we often have exciting first experiences with them, then realise a little later that they’re betraying their own cause for reasons that aren’t obvious or logical. Some musicians are monsters, yet I feel obliged to forgive them because their talent is immense. When that talent isn’t there, as with Brian Jones, I can't forgive. I hate people who can't cope with themselves - and there are far too many like that, who are dishonest with themselves and their audience. I also hate exploiters, those who made Feliciano or Ray Charles what they are today. And I hate the awful pettiness of French showbiz. There are far too many Judases in this business, who’ll sell themselves and others for a few gold coins.

Monday 3 July 2023

NIKIPEDIA

The fundamental reason for writing my biography of Nick Drake was to create a factually accurate account of his life. As I worked on it, his estate asked if I would have a go at correcting the blizzard of errors in his Wikipedia entry (and those for his albums). I was - am - barely wiki-literate, but made a start. In no time at all I was blocked for ‘Long-term abuse: vandalism’ by this ‘Administrator’, who promptly undid all my corrections. 


Last week the Guardian interviewed Trevor Dann, whose 2006 volume about Nick is cited throughout the main Wikipedia entry. He remarked that my book – which he hadn’t read – would be ‘Gabrielle’s version of the truth’. My response to that is: the truth is the truth, just as facts are facts.

I’ll set out below the many errors in Nick’s main Wikipedia entry, and those for his three albums. Almost all of them can be corrected by citing the relevant pages in my book (which is thoroughly footnoted and endnoted). I hope that will happen – though even if it does, what remains will still be a strange and partial account of his life and work.


(PS I am of course wide open to reliable contradictions of any of these corrections.)

 

Introduction 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake signed to Island Records when he was 20 years old’ 

CORRECTION 1: Nick agreed to work with Joe Boyd’s Witchseason Productions company when he was 19. He never ‘signed to Island Records’.

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording’ 

CORRECTIONS 2 and 3: Nick gave his last known live performance in August 1970, well over a year before recording Pink Moon. After Pink Moon he made numerous attempts to resurrect his recording career. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Whether his death was an accident or suicide has not been resolved.’ 

CORRECTION 4: It was resolved on December 18th 1974, when the coroner carefully examined the evidence and found that Nick had committed suicide by taking a massive, deliberate overdose.  

 

1948–1966: Early life 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Rodney proposed in 1936, though they had to wait a year until she turned 21 before her family allowed them to marry.’ 

CORRECTION 5: This is made up. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In 1950, the family returned to England to live in Warwickshire’ 

CORRECTION 6: The Drakes returned to England in August 1951  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Encouraged by his mother, Drake learned to play piano at an early age and began to compose songs which he recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder that she kept in the family drawing-room’ 

CORRECTION 7: Nick is not known to have composed any songs until 1967

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘he went to Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire which had also been attended by his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather’ 

CORRECTION 8: Nick’s great-grandfather did not attend Marlborough 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake played piano in the school orchestra’ 

CORRECTION 9: No, he didn’t. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In 1963 he attained seven GCE O-Levels’ 

CORRECTION 10: Nick sat six O-Levels in 1963, and passed five  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In 1965, Drake paid £13 (equivalent to £268 in 2021) for his first acoustic guitar, a Levin’ 

CORRECTIONS 11 and 12: He bought his first guitar in December 1964. It was an Estruch. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘he won a scholarship to study at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge’ 

CORRECTION 13: He neither sought nor won a scholarship to Cambridge.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He delayed attendance to spend six months at the University of Aix-Marseille’ 

CORRECTION 14: The place he was offered was for October 1967, leaving him with 10 months to fill. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He most likely began using LSD while in Aix’ 

CORRECTION 15: There is no reliable evidence for this (or for his ever having 'used' LSD). 

 

1967–1969: Cambridge 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake returned to England in 1967 and moved into his sister's flat in Hampstead, London.’ 

CORRECTION 16: His sister never lived in Hampstead. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In September 1967, Drake met Robert Kirby’ 

CORRECTION 17: This would mean they’d met before starting at Cambridge. They met in January 1968. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘A music student who went on to write many of the string and woodwind arrangements for Drake's first two albums.’ 

CORRECTION 18: Kirby collaborated with Nick on four songs for Five Leaves Left and five for Bryter Layter

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He began performing in local clubs and coffee houses around London’ 

CORRECTION 19: There is no evidence for Nick having done so at this time, though he played at Les Cousins (and a couple of other venues around London) a few times as of late 1969. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Witchseason Productions, which at the time was licensed to Island Records’ 

CORRECTION 20: Witchseason was licensed to Polydor as of late 1967. Its arrangement with Island began in September 1968.   

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Boyd, who had discovered Fairport Convention and introduced John Martyn and the Incredible String Band to a mainstream audience…’ 

CORRECTION 21: Joe Boyd had had nothing whatsoever to do with John Martyn’s career at this point. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘[Boyd] and Drake formed an immediate bond, and Boyd acted as a mentor to Drake throughout his career.’ 

CORRECTION 22: This is a considerable exaggeration. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Impressed by a four-track demo recorded in Drake's college room…’ 

CORRECTION 23: There is no evidence for where the tape was recorded, but it is highly unlikely to have been in his college room. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘According to Drake's friend Paul Wheeler, Drake had already decided not to complete his third year at Cambridge and was excited about the contract.’ 

CORRECTION 24: Nick had not met Paul Wheeler at this point; Paul Wheeler has never suggested otherwise.    

 

Five Leaves Left (1969) 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake recorded his debut album Five Leaves Left later in 1968, with Boyd as producer.’ 

CORRECTION 25: Nick and Joe began work on Five Leaves Left in February 1968.   

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He had to skip lectures to travel by train to the sessions in Sound Techniques studio, London.’ 

CORRECTION 26: This is not the case. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘the sessions were irregular and rushed, taking place during studio downtime borrowed from Fairport Convention's production of their Unhalfbricking album.’ 

CORRECTIONS 27 and 28: The Five Leaves Left sessions were regular and leisurely and did not take place during 'studio downtime'. Fairport Convention were one of several other acts Boyd was concurrently working with. For much of 1968 they were working towards What We Did On Our Holidays, not Unhalfbricking.

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Tension arose as to the direction of the album: Boyd was an advocate of George Martin's approach of using the studio as an instrument, while Drake preferred a more organic sound.’ 

CORRECTION 29: This is unfounded. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Kirby had previously presented Drake with some arrangements for his songs.’  

CORRECTION 30: Kirby never ‘presented’ arrangements to Nick; they worked in close collaboration. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Post-production difficulties delayed the release by several months’ 

CORRECTION 31: Work on Five Leaves Left ended in late April 1969, and there were no ‘post-production difficulties’: it was released efficiently two months later. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘It received little radio play outside shows by more progressive BBC DJs such as John Peel and Bob Harris.’ 

CORRECTION 32: John Peel is not known to have played anything from Five Leaves Left on air. Bob Harris was not a BBC DJ in 1969. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake was unhappy with the inlay sleeve’ 

CORRECTION 33: There is no evidence whatsoever for this. 

 

Bryter Layter (1971) 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake ended his studies at Cambridge nine months before graduation and in late 1969 moved to London.’ 

CORRECTIONS 34 and 35: Nick was based in his own flat in London as of August 1969. He left Cambridge that October, seven months before he would have sat his finals. His earliest graduation date would have been in the autumn of 1970. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake spent his first few months in London drifting from place to place, occasionally staying at his sister's Kensington flat’ 

CORRECTIONS 36 and 37: Nick was based in his own flat in London as of August 1969. His sister never had a ‘Kensington flat’. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘On 5 August 1969, Drake recorded five songs for the BBC's John Peel show ("Cello Song", "Three Hours", "River Man", "Time of No Reply" and an early version of "Bryter Layter"), three of which were broadcast the following night.’ 

CORRECTION 38: On 5 August 1969 Nick pre-recorded four songs (Time Of No Reply, Cello Song, River Man and Three Hours) for an episode of Night Ride that happened to be presented by Peel, though Nick didn’t meet him. The songs were broadcast at five past midnight that night (in other words, the early hours of August 6th). Nick subsequently recorded Bryter Layter for another BBC radio broadcast, in April 1970. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘On 24 September, he opened for Fairport Convention at the Royal Festival Hall in London’ 

CORRECTION 39: John and Beverley Martyn opened this concert. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘the few concerts he did play were usually brief, awkward, and poorly attended.’ 

CORRECTION 40: Most of his concerts were extremely well-attended, and several of them took place in packed halls. Accounts of their brevity and awkwardness vary considerably. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Cale used heroin during this period, and his older friend Brian Wells suspected that Drake was also using.’ 

CORRECTIONS 41 and 42: Brian Wells is younger than Nick, and has never suspected that Nick was a heroin user. (There is no evidence for Nick having ever so much as tried it.)

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Melody Maker described the album as "an awkward mix of folk and cocktail jazz".’ 

CORRECTION 43: No review has ever stated that, in Melody Maker or elsewhere.

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Soon after its release, Boyd sold Witchseason to Island Records and moved to Los Angeles to work with Warner Brothers’

CORRECTION 44: Boyd had sold Witchseason and moved to Los Angeles months before the release of Bryter Layter. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In 1971, Drake's family persuaded him to visit a psychiatrist at St Thomas' Hospital, London.’ 

CORRECTION 45: This took place in July 1972. Nick attended at the recommendation of numerous people, including Joe Boyd. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He worried about [antidepressants’] side effects and was concerned that they would react with his regular cannabis use.’

CORRECTION 46: By general consensus Nick had largely stopped smoking dope as of 1971. He was first prescribed antidepressants in July 1972, and there is no evidence for his ever having considered their reaction with cannabis. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs.’ 

CORRECTION 47: Nick had moved back to Far Leys in April 1971, by which time he had long since stopped playing concerts. By general consensus he had largely stopped smoking dope as of 1971. 

 

Pink Moon (1972)

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Although Island neither expected nor wanted a third album…’ 

CORRECTION 48: Island very much wanted Nick to continue recording for them. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake had expressed dissatisfaction with the sound of Bryter Layter’ 

CORRECTION 49: There is no evidence for this. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake delivered the tapes of Pink Moon to Chris Blackwell at Island Records’ 

CORRECTION 50: Nick handed Blackwell a copy of the album that John Wood had run off for him, not ‘the tapes’ 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Blackwell felt Pink Moon had the potential to bring Drake to a mainstream audience’ 

CORRECTION 51: Blackwell was well aware that it was uncommercial but was happy to release it exactly as Nick wished. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘At Boyd's insistence, Drake agreed to an interview with Jerry Gilbert of Sounds Magazine.’ 

CORRECTION 52: This interview took place in March 1971, not at the time of Pink Moon, and had nothing whatsoever to do with Joe Boyd.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake retired from music. He toyed with the idea of a different career and considered the army.’  

CORRECTION 53: Nick never ‘retired from music’. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘His three albums had together sold fewer than 4,000 copies.’  

CORRECTION 54: this is a considerable underestimate 

 

1972–1974: 

Changes in life and health 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake lived a frugal existence; his only income was a £20-a-week retainer from Island Records (equivalent to £257 in 2021).’ 

CORRECTION 55: This is garbled. His ‘retainer’ was a publishing advance that ceased when he made a new arrangement with Chris Blackwell following Joe Boyd’s departure for America.   

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘At one point he could not afford a new pair of shoes.’  

CORRECTION 56: The reference to his shoes is drawn from a statement his mother made: ‘He had just one pair of shoes, which was completely worn out. He wouldn’t have anything different.’ In other words, the point is that he did not want new shoes, not that he couldn’t afford them. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘John Martyn (who in 1973 wrote the title song of his album Solid Air about Drake)’  

CORRECTION 57: Martyn wrote Solid Air in July 1972. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake would borrow his mother's car and drive for hours without purpose, until he ran out of petrol’ 

CORRECTION 58: Nick drove his own cars, only very occasionally borrowing his mother’s. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Early in 1972, Drake had a nervous breakdown, and was hospitalised for five weeks.’  

CORRECTION 59: Nick’s nervous breakdown took place in late April 1972. He attended hospital voluntarily and intermittently over the next few months. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In February 1973, Drake contacted John Wood, saying he was ready to begin work on a fourth album. Boyd was in England at the time and agreed to attend the recordings.’ 

CORRECTIONS 60 and 61: Nick had not made any mention of ‘a fourth album’ to John Wood, who had no idea what to expect. Joe Boyd had nothing to do with the February 1973 recordings. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘the return to the Sound Techniques studio raised Drake's spirits; his mother recalled, "We were so absolutely thrilled to think that Nick was happy because there hadn't been any happiness in Nick's life for years."  

CORRECTION 62: Nick was despondent after both the February 1973 and July 1974 sessions. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He had tried to stay in touch with Sophia Ryde, whom he had met in London in 1968.’ 

CORRECTION 63: Nick met Sophia Ryde in the summer of 1967. They maintained friendly contact until their final meeting in March 1974, though she sent him a birthday card in June 1974. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Ryde has been described by Drake's biographers as "the nearest thing" to a girlfriend in his life’ 

CORRECTION 64: She was not ‘the nearest thing to a girlfriend in his life’. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In a 2005 interview, Ryde said that a week before he died, she had sought to end the relationship’ 

CORRECTION 65: She said no such thing. They had last communicated in March 1974, over 8 months before his death.

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake's relationship with Ryde was not consummated.’ 

CORRECTION 66: Nick had no ‘relationship’ with Sophia to consummate.    

 

Death 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘During the early hours of 25 November 1974, Drake died in his bedroom at Far Leys.’ 

CORRECTION 67: Nick is reckoned to have died at around 6am. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘He had gone to bed early after spending the afternoon visiting a friend.’ 

CORRECTION 68: He went to bed at around 10:30 having spent the entire day at home with his parents. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘no post-mortem examination was carried out.’ 

CORRECTION 69: A post-mortem was carried out by the pathologist Kenneth Holly. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Nick's body was first discovered by their housemaid’ 

CORRECTION 70: Naw was not a ‘housemaid’ 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘a letter addressed to Ryde was found close to his bed.’ 

CORRECTION 71: When sorting through Nick’s room after his death his parents found an unsent note to Sophia from March 1974. It had no relevance to his death. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘The funeral was attended by around fifty mourners, including friends from Marlborough, Aix, Cambridge, London, Witchseason, and Tanworth. 

CORRECTION 72: No friends from Marlborough, Aix or Witchseason attended Nick’s funeral.

 

Posthumous popularity 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘in 1979 Rob Partridge joined Island Records as press officer and commissioned the release of the Fruit Tree box set.’ 

CORRECTION 73: Fruit Tree was originally due to be released on November 24th 1978 and was not ‘commissioned’ by Island’s press officer. It had been under discussion for a long time.


 

Musical and lyrical style 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake was drawn to the works of William Blake, William Butler Yeats, and Henry Vaughan, whose influences are reflected in his lyrics.’  

CORRECTION 74: There is no evidence that Nick was ‘drawn to the works of’ Yeats or Vaughan, though commentators might infer it 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘from Bryter Layter on, his language is more autumnal, evoking a season commonly used to convey senses of loss and sorrow’ 

CORRECTION 75: This is unsupported by evidence  

 

Appraisal 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake received little critical success during his lifetime’ 

CORRECTION 76: Over 65 reviews of Nick’s albums are known to have appeared in his lifetime, the overwhelming majority of them positive and many of them rapturous.  


FIVE LEAVES LEFT 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Five Leaves Left was recorded between July 1968 and June 1969 at Sound Techniques in London, England.’ 

CORRECTION 77: Nick began making recordings towards the album with Joe Boyd and John Wood in February 1968, though work began in earnest on Friday, May 10th 1968. The final session took place on Tuesday, April 22nd 1969. It was also recorded at Morgan, in Willesden. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Robert Kirby, a friend of Drake's from his youth…’ 

CORRECTION 78: Robert and Nick met at Cambridge in February 1968. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Released 3 July 1969’ 

CORRECTION 79: It was released on Friday, July 4th 1969 (Island released albums on Fridays - the original print ad contained the wrong date). 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Uncredited – flute’ 

CORRECTION 80: The flute on The Thoughts Of Mary Jane was played by Lyn Dobson 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Until the 1990s Drake's albums had been critically and popularly ignored’ 

CORRECTION 81: Nick’s work was constantly available, regularly repackaged, and often assessed by critics in the 1970s and 1980s.  

 

BRYTER LAYTER 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Initially scheduled for release in November 1970, with UK promotional copies being sent out at the time…’ 

CORRECTION 82: It was originally scheduled for release in May 1970, then ‘autumn 1970’, then November, then December, then ‘late January’ 1971. No promotional copies are known to have been circulated. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘dissatisfaction with the artwork meant that the album was held over into the New Year’ 

CORRECTION 83: This is unfounded. Delays in its appearance owed to several other factors, such as postal strikes, Joe Boyd’s return to the US, Island’s acquisition of Witchseason, a major rebranding exercise at Island and Island’s preparation of its ‘El Pea’ campaign.   

 

PINK MOON 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Recorded 30-31 October 1971’ 

CORRECTION 84: The precise recording dates are unknown. 

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Released two years before Drake's death in November 1974’ 

CORRECTION 85: It was released two years and nine months before Nick’s death.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘In 1971 he saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed antidepressants’ 

CORRECTION 86: Nick first saw a psychiatrist in 1972. He was first prescribed antidepressants in July 1972.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘his fears concerning the medication's interaction with marijuana…’ 

CORRECTION 87: This is unfounded. In addition, Nick smoked hashish, not marijuana.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Cally Calloman of Bryter Music’ 

CORRECTION 88: Cally Callomon  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘in his only interview, published in Sounds magazine in March 1971…’ 

CORRECTION 89: Nick gave at least one more interview (which appeared in Jackie magazine of May 28th 1970).  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘After a brief hiatus in Spain spent at a villa belonging to Island Records' head Chris Blackwell’ 

CORRECTION 90: it was an apartment, not a villa  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Drake delivered the master tapes of Pink Moon to Chris Blackwell at Island’ 

CORRECTION 91: Nick delivered a copy that John Wood had run off for him, not ‘the master tapes’  

 

WIKIPEDIA: Keith Morris ‘was commissioned to photograph Drake for the cover of Pink Moon. However, the photos were not used as Drake's rapidly deteriorating appearance, hunched figure and blank expression were not considered good selling points.’ 

CORRECTION 92: It was never suggested that a photograph of Nick would appear on the cover of Pink Moon.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Island picked a piece of surrealist Dalí-esque art by Michael Trevithick’ 

CORRECTION 93: Island did not ‘pick’ the artwork. Trevithick was commissioned to create it.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Michael Trevithick, who was incidentally a friend of Drake's sister Gabrielle’ 

CORRECTION 94: Michael and Gabrielle had never met  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Although Drake was not outspoken in his opinion on the cover art of Pink Moon, many close to him felt that he approved’ 

CORRECTION 95: Nick is not known ever to have expressed any view on the matter.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: Island ‘spent the entire promotional budget on full-page advertisements in all major music magazines the month of the record's release’ 

CORRECTION 96: This is unfounded and inaccurate.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Jerry Gilbert of Sounds, who had conducted the only known interview with Drake the previous year…’ 

CORRECTION 97: An earlier interview with Nick had appeared in Jackie magazine of May 28th 1970.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘The first notable cover versions of Nick Drake songs were released in 1992…’ 

CORRECTION 98: Numerous covers of Nick’s songs had been released as far back as 1970. Which ones are ‘notable’ is of course moot.  

 

WIKIPEDIA: ‘Full page advertisement of the release of Pink Moon’ [picture caption] 

CORRECTION 99: The picture is of a small ad for the American release, and appeared in Rolling Stone (June 22nd 1972) and Fusion (August 1972).