Nick Drake's treasured secret tape up for sale

The now acclaimed musician gave the reel-to-reel recording of six songs to a friend before his death

When Nick Drake died from an overdose of anti-depressants aged 26, the now acclaimed folk musician believed almost no one was interested in his work. Among his last wishes he bequeathed a reel-to-reel tape of his first proper recording to somebody he knew did care – Beverley Martyn, a leading figure of the early 1970s UK folk scene who came to view him as her "younger brother".

Martyn, who made two albums with her ex-husband, the late folk legend John Martyn, cherished the tape, playing it a lot but at the age of 67 and in failing health decided it was time to part with it.

The six songs, recorded before Drake began work in 1968 on his seminal Five Leaves Left album, are to be sold by London auctioneers Ted Owen & Co. The tape has been valued for insurance purposes at £250,000.

It features Drake playing either guitar or piano and singing some of the songs that brought him posthumous fame in the 1980s and 1990s, such as "Fruit Tree", "Saturday Sun" and "Cello Song". His music won him fans such as Brad Pitt, who presented a 2004 documentary about Drake, and influenced artists as diverse as Belle & Sebastian, the Cure, and Paul Weller.

The tape was "a wonderful thing – because it's him", Martyn said. "He was young, he sounds full of fun, he sounds light and his guitar playing is absolutely excellent. It really shows that he didn't need to have this whole layer cake of strings.

"Okay, the strings were great on the album, but this is just him and it makes it more personal."

The making of all three of Drake's albums was a problematic process. He argued with the record company about the arrangements on the first, appears to have capitulated on the jazz-influenced second record before getting his way on the third – by which time his disillusionment with the music business had begun to affect his work. All three sold poorly and Drake was dropped by his record label, and he died in 1974.

Martyn said she had tried to convince him that his talent would eventually be recognised. "I constantly had to reassure him that his music was great and he should think of himself not as being popular now but being popular in the future," she said. "I said, 'One day everyone is going to know who you are, these songs are good, these songs are great, you are an original', but he said, 'No, no.'"

Martyn, who released an album this year called The Phoenix & The Turtle, featuring a song she wrote with Drake, appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival in California in 1967, toured with Simon & Garfunkel in the US, and performed with Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell and Jimmy Page. But she made little money and was not paid for her work on the albums with her ex-husband. The money went to John and she does not receive royalties.

"I don't get a proper pension," she said. "I'm not well: I've loads of things wrong with me. I don't want this tape to get lost or get into the wrong hands if anything happens to me. I've cared for this [tape], I've loved it and I've had my time with it.

"Someone else should be able to enjoy it and I know there are people out there who are made for him."

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy