Happy Birthday Richard

Today is one of my favorite guitarists Richard Thompson’s 61st Birthday. He’s come a long way from the early days of Fairport Convention for sure:


Thompson has long been recognized as a great songwriter, but I think for too long he’s been underrated as a guitar player. His finger picking style on acoustic is technically brilliant, and his electric style is inimitable. I recently saw him at the Englert in Iowa City and it was one of the finest shows I’ve seen in a long time. Several times he played to such a fever pitch that I was sure that the show was done–how could he go on? Yet, he would settle back into a ballad and work the house slowly back to an amazing crescendo. Absolutely amazing. In fact, I think the best show I’d previously seen would probably have to go to him as well, a solo acoustic show in the streets of Iowa City, with a twilight rendition of Gethsemane that still gives me chills to think about.

Thompson has had at least four separate careers: Fairport Convention, a duet with Linda Thompson, an 80s pop singer, and finally the 90s/00s guitarist extraordinaire. I love them all (well, OK, the 80s pop Thompson got a bit saccharine there for awhile), but I think he’s at his best now. For my birthday toast, I’ve got Fairport’s “On the Ledge” disc 2, and Thompson’s “Live at Austin City Limits,” and “Old Kit Bag” queued up. Here’s a little snippet of recent Thompson:

On another note, I recently missed Emmylou Harris’s birthday. She, too, has just turned 61. I’d suggest “Live at the Ryman” for some classic traditional pickin’ with Sam Bush and others, or the haunting strains of Daniel Lanois-produced “Wrecking Ball.” You can’t go wrong.


2 Responses to “Happy Birthday Richard”

  1. Beekeeper Says:

    Hello – Web maintainer from the official Richard Thompson webiste here…
    Richard is actually 59, not 61 as you have noted. He was born in 1949.
    Best regards,

    The Beekeeper

  2. GJF Says:

    Oops, my mistake–didn’t mean to make him old before his time!

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