Richard & Linda Thompson Biography

This husband-and-wife folk/rock duo began performing together officially in 1972 although their association dated from the previous year. When Richard Thompson (3 April 1949, Notting Hill Gate, London, England; guitar/vocals) left Fairport Convention, he pursued a generally low-key path, performing in folk clubs and on various sessions, including Rock On, a collection of rock ‘n’ roll favourites which featured several Fairport acolytes. ‘When Will I Be Loved?’ was marked by a duet between Sandy Denny and Linda Peters (b. Hackney, London, England), the latter of whom then provided vocals on Thompson’s Henry The Human Fly. Richard and Linda then began a professional, and personal, relationship, introduced on I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. This excellent album contained several of Richard’s best-known compositions, including the title track, ‘Calvary Cross’ and the despondent ‘The End Of The Rainbow’: ‘Life seems so rosy in the cradle, but I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in store/There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow/There’s nothing to grow up for anymore’. The Thompsons toured with former-Fairport guitarist Simon Nicol as Hokey Pokey, which in turn evolved into a larger, more emphatic unit, Sour Grapes.

The former group inspired the title of a second enthralling album which blended humour with social comment. Its release was the prelude to a frenetic period which culminated in Pour Down Like Silver, the Thompsons’ second album within 12 months. It reflected the couple’s growing interest in the Sufi faith, but despite a sombre reputation, the set included several excellent compositions. A three-year hiatus in the Thompsons’ career ensued, broken only in 1977 by a series of live performances accompanied by fellow converts Ian Whiteman, Roger Powell and Mick Evans, all previously with Mighty Baby. Now signed to the Chrysalis Records label, First Light provided a welcome return and many commentators rate this album as the duo’s finest. The follow-up release Sunnyvista was, in comparison, a disappointment, despite the inclusion of the satiric title track and the angry and passionate ‘You’re Going To Need Somebody’. However, it led to the duo’s departure from their record label. This second, if enforced, break ended with the superb Shoot Out The Lights, nominated by Rolling Stone magazine as the best album of 1982. Indeed such a response suggested the Thompsons would now secure widespread success and they embarked on a US tour to consolidate this newly won recognition. Despite this, the couple’s marriage was breaking up and in June 1982 the duo made their final appearance together at Sheffield’s South Yorkshire Folk Festival. Richard Thompson then resumed his critically acclaimed solo career, while Linda went on to record One Clear Moment in 1985.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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