Adventures with a lost Nick Drake recording

The Book

• 130 amazing photographs and stories  
• 266 pages 
• £19.99

The Story behind the Book

Nick Drake is hailed as one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the last 50 years, yet his is one of the most mysterious and intriguing stories of 20th century popular music. 

Before his death in 1974 aged just 26 he was a relatively unknown artist but in his short recording career he had generated a legacy that would go on to influence some of music’s most high profile artists.

In the 1970s, when working as a post-boy at Island Records, television composer Michael Burdett was asked to throw some tapes in a rubbish skip. Thinking he could use them in the studio he was setting up, he got permission to take them. One that had been sent in to the record company caught his eye. ‘‘I picked it up because it had ‘Nick Drake, Cello Song’ and ‘with love’ written on the box. The words ‘with love’ made me think that it had to be Nick’s handwriting and on that basis I couldn’t let it go to the dump.’’

It was over 20 years before Michael played the tape. When he threaded it on to a tape recorder, he was astonished to hear an unknown version of Cello Song, one of Nick’s greatest works.

This unique set of photographs illustrate what happened next, when Michael set off on his adventure. With a CD player and headphones in hand, he travelled the length and breadth of Britain with the aim of offering individuals an exclusive opportunity to hear the recording. Of the 200 people Michael approached 167 said yes; city workers, farmers, scientists, hairdressers, musicians, tattooists --- he asked them all. Randomly stopping them in the street, at their places of work and in their homes, whether they knew of Drake’s material or not.

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