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 pop. Before his suicide 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 pop's most high profile artists.
The Strange Face Project is the story of a lost Nick Drake recording and how the man who found it chose to share it in an extraordinary way. 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 in particular caught his eye. âI picked it up because it had âNick Drake, Cello Song' and âwith love' written on the box. It was over 20 years before Michael played the tape. When he threaded it on to a tape machine, he was astonished to hear an unknown version of Cello Song, one of Nick Drake's greatest works.
This exhibition will present a unique set of photographs which 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, whether they knew of Drake's material or not.
Among the people he approached were some well-known faces, including Billy Bragg, Sir Tom Stoppard, Tracy Chevalier, Danny Baker, Alan Yentob, Martin Freeman, Noel Fielding, Richard E Grant, Jonathan Pryce, Fearne Cotton, Ross Noble and Paul Whitehouse. Michael photographed everyone who listened, people from the age of two to 96, and recorded their thoughts on the newly discovered recording.
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