"Nick was in some strange way out of time. When you were with him, you always had a sad feeling of him being born in the wrong century. If he would have lived in the 17th Century, at the Elizabethan Court, together with composers like Dowland or William Byrd, he would have been alright. Nick was elegant, honest, a lost romantic - and at the same time so cool. In brief: the perfect Elizabethan."
- Robert Kirby, a Cambridge friend of Nick's who orchestrated his first 2 album
"He was a quiet person."
- John Cale
"It's impossible to keep count of the contemporary artists who cite Drake as an inspiration, but a cursory round-up includes R.E.M., Snow Patrol, Norah Jones, Radiohead, Brad Pitt, Sam Mendes, Paul Weller, Travis, Portishead, The Coral, Coldplay, Heath Ledger, David Gray, Super Furry Animals and Beth Orton. Along with household names of his creative lifetime - the Stones, The Beatles, Marley, Hendrix - his albums have become an unofficial set text for anyone passionate about music. In 2007, he has become so much more than the sum total of his work. The greater our fascination with him, the more we reveal about ourselves. In this sense, maybe Ian McDonald was right. Perhaps his music allows us to feel a little less like, as Drake put it, "a remnant of something that's passed." "
Sheila Wood (John Wood's wife): "If you're so unhappy Nick, why haven't you killed yourself?" Nick (in response to Sheila Wood): "It's too cowardly, and besides, I don't have the courage"
Your first impression of Nick was of incredible elegance. Only later would you notice his shabby lace-up shoes and ill-fitting jacket.
- Paul Wheeler, a friend of Nick
"Towards the end of his life, Drake appeared to long for the vindication that comes with commercial success. And yet he seemed incapable of compromising himself to the pursuit of recognition. His shyness made interviews difficult. Live performances became increasingly rare. When recording music, the only compass he used was his own intuition."
"His set of friends were a year or so older than me, and generally from a slightly 'smart' social background as I recall. I seem to remember that he was one of the pleasanter people among them, and was quite relaxed about life at school - laid back as it is now termed. He was a swift runner and in the school athletics team - 100 yards / 200 yards I think (he smoked a bit so should have been better). Marlborough College had a good tradition, including one or two national team members, plus good facilities...I remember him playing the guitar, at a School Open Day Fair, during which boys were encouraged to man stalls and mini exhibitions. Nick donned a denim jacket and jeans, and lounged against the pillars at the entrance of the grandest school building - C House, playing the harmonica slung around his neck, and singing Dylan, Guthrie and some early Donovon songs, I think; whether there were any of his I do not know. I had no idea whether he had obtained permission to perform like this - one presumes so. This was mildly scandalising to a fairly conventionally minded boy like me - I was 20 feet away filling balloons for children with hydrogen, and attaching labels to them for charity."
- C.G.Reynold., an acquaintance from school
"...I was at Fitzwilliam, Cambridge at the same time as Nick Drake and we were supervision partners in the second year. He was always a somewhat mysterious figure and spent no time at all socializing with his year or the college. He came from his school (Marlborough, i think) and spent his time with friends either from there or musical friends. He did play quite a bit in Cambridge, and I heard him play on several occasions, including a May Ball at Cains. I shared supervisions with a don who used his wife's rooms in an old house in West Road, in the attics. The remarkable thing was that however early I arrived for supervisions Nick was always there before me, standing waiting on the stairs gazing out of the window. I once got there 3/4 of an hour in advance and he was there ahead of me! The cover of Five Leaves Left bears an astonishing resemblance to his appearance. He would never say much, and he had never done the work for the supervisions, he was simply going through the motions."
- J Venning
Of all the albums I ever made, the two I produced by Nick are the ones I'm most proud of. I listen to them often because he was extraordinarily good - nothing he ever did was less than striking, and he had the gift of writing melodies of incredible beauty.
- Joe Boyd, producer of Nick's first two albums
"It's very rare that you wouldn't want to change an album, but it's the only one I wouldn't change, or feel I could have done better"
- John Wood, sound engineer for Bryter Layter
"He had this way of answering the telephone as if he just happened to have this thing in his hand and he was surprised to hear a voice come out of it. We talked for a while and he said he was very unhappy and I told him he should see a psychiatrist, there was nothing wrong with it, maybe it would help him."
- Joe Boyd
He was killed by the indecent, parasitic opportunism that pervades the music business.
- John Martyn on Nick Drake.
"When you put aside the singing, lyrics, the arrangements, and everything else, and you just listen to the guitar playing, you can hear that Nick was an extraordinary musician with very, very strong technique, big strong hands. The guitar playing was incredibly clean and accurate and inventive. The way he developed his tunings, some people still haven't figured out some of his tunes."
- John Boyd
"The most withdrawn person I've ever met."
- John Martyn
"With every passing year, it becomes a little less accurate to say that Nick Drake has a cult following. Cults, by their very nature, tend to exist on the margins, the subject of their admiration unknown or even unloved by the vast majority of people. Mention Nick Drake to a certain generation of music fan and chances are you won't have to explain yourself. Latterly, Drake's name has become a byword for a certain kind of acoustic music. Gentility, melancholia and a seemingly casual mastery of the fretboard - in the minds of many listeners, any combination of these traits warrants comparison to Nick Drake. As a result, Drake is perpetually referenced across the reviews sections of every music title. That quite often the records in question bear no meaningful resemblance to Drake's music speaks volumes."
"Drake certainly suffered from depression - most notably in the latter two years of his life - but his music was not a function of that depression. Richard Thompson who played on Five Leaves Left and Bryter Later remembers a quiet character, though not a miserable one: "I remember long silences, but they were never oppressive. With Nick, you sensed [that] very little needed to be said that couldn't be said with a guitar in his hand." As Drake puts it on Hazey Jane II, "If songs were lines/In a conversation/The situation would be fine."
"I was introduced to Nick Drake's music about five years ago, and am a huge admirer of his records," said Brad Pitt