Richard Thompson is a legendary English singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He first gained prominence in the late 1960s as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the folk-rock group Fairport Convention, which he had co-founded in 1967.
After departing the group in 1971, Thompson released his debut solo album Henry the Human Fly in 1972. The next year, he formed a duo with his then-wife Linda Thompson, which produced six albums, including the critically acclaimed I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974) and Shoot Out the Lights (1982). After the dissolution of the duo, Thompson revived his solo career with the release of Hand of Kindness in 1983. He has released a total of eighteen solo studio albums. Three of his albums—Rumor and Sigh (1991), You? Me? Us? (1996), and Dream Attic (2010)—have been nominated for Grammy Awards, while Still (2015) was his first UK Top Ten album. His most recent studio album is 13 Rivers (2018). He continues to write and record new material regularly and had frequently performed at venues throughout the world, although the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to suspend his touring.
Music critic Neil McCormick described Thompson as “a versatile virtuoso guitarist and a sharp observational singer-songwriter whose work burns with intelligence and dark emotion”. His songwriting has earned him an Ivor Novello Award and, in 2006, a lifetime achievement award from BBC Radio. His 1991 song “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” was included in Time magazine’s “All Time 100 Songs” list of the best English-language musical compositions released between 1923 and 2011. Thompson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music. Many varied musicians have recorded Thompson’s compositions.
In 2021, his book Beeswing: Losing my Way and Finding my Voice, 1967-1975 was released. Published by Algonquin Books, it is mainly a memoir of his life as a musician from 1967 to 1975.