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Richard Thompson was born in West London, surrounded by a family with wide musical tastes. Counted among his early influences are Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller, Les Paul, and Jimmy Shand. Flip the coin from his father's jazz record collection to the early rock and roll music made available to him through his elder sister, including Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire, and the eclectic diversity of his multi-generational career becomes clear.
Many musicians peak by age 30, but not Richard Thompson. The recipient of BBC's Lifetime Achievement Award and named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world's most critically acclaimed songwriters. Robert Plant, REM, Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, David Byrne, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt and many others have recorded his work. Yet this may be the most prolific period of Richard Thompson's astonishing career; his live-tour CD Dream Attic was nominated for aGrammy Award in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 2010 Thompson was curator at London's prestigious 2010 Meltdown Festival at South Bank Centre, and for his service to music - was named on the Queen's 2011 New Year Honours List as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 2011 Thompson received an Honorary Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa (DHC) from the University at Aberdeen for his exceptional and distinctive contribution to contemporary music.
From his teenage years as a founding member of the pioneering British band Fairport Convention, through the enduring partnership of folk-rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson, to over 25 years as a solo artist - Richard Thompson's massive body of work includes 40 albums and numerous film soundtracks (including Werner Herzog's documentary Grizzly Man). Richard has earned many of the industry's most coveted awards including the Mojo Les Paul Award, the Orville H Gibson Award (guitar) and an Ivor Novello Award (songwriting). His genre-defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar, along with his dizzying energy and onstage wit continue to earn Richard Thompson generations of new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive and iconoclastic virtuosos in rock history.
The 60's and 70's
After earning a reputation as a fine guitarist in school bands like Emil and the Detectives (with schoolmate Hugh Cornwell), Richard had his first brush with 'fame' as a teenaged founding member of the 1960's folk-rock pioneers, Fairport Convention. Playing an inventive musical mix of blues and California-style rock, the group was quickly dubbed "the new Jefferson Airplane". The band's founding members (Iain Matthews, Judy Dyble, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings, Martin Lamble) were discovered playing in London's Soho district, by American producer Joe Boyd. Boyd secured them a recording contract and their eponymous debut album was released in 1968. Shortly thereafter, the band's lead vocalist, Judy Dyble, was replaced with the ethereal songstress, Sandy Denny.
Other personnel changes followed and over the next four years, Fairport Convention gradually developed a more personal and British based repertoire. 1969's Liege and Lief , long regarded as a milestone recording in defining British Rock, revealed the extent of Richard's talent as a songwriter. Here he penned contemporary songs that drew upon deep traditional genres, a writing style that would follow him throughout his career. Other 1969 releases included What We Did on Our Holidays, and Unhalfbricking.
Richard's last album with the group was Full House, released in 1970. That year the band also made its American debut, touring with Traffic and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Richard subsequently left the group in 1971. The next year was extremely significant for Richard. The release of his first solo album Henry the Human Fly, regarded by many as a classic and