Official Biography

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With thanks to HarperPR!

Word document version attached as well if you like that sort of thing. Updated 6 September 2007

 

NICK HARPER

BIOGRAPHY:

Despite being destined to be forever known as the son of the legendary folk/blues singer-songwriter Roy Harper, Nick Harper has forged his own way ahead to become recognised as one of Britain’s finest acoustic singer/guitarists.  Having played the guitar from the age of 10 (he is completely self-taught) and surrounded by the likes of Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Dave Gilmour as he grew up, it was no surprise when Nick made his recording debut on his father's Whatever Happened to Jugula? in 1985.

Nick's talent and energy entranced Roy's fans and it was inevitable that he would begin touring and recording in his own right. The 1994 EP Light at the End of the Kennel was swiftly followed by his powerful 1995 debut album Seed prompting The Independent to describe him as "hugely talented".

A meeting with Squeeze frontman and songwriter Glenn Tilbrook in 1996 led to his offering Nick a job playing with and supporting Squeeze and promptly signed Nick to his own label, Quixotic Records. Following tours in the UK, USA and Japan, Nick recorded the 1998 album Smithereens with Tilbrook as producer. This album and subsequent 40 date solo tour, including dates in New York and Glastonbury, confirmed Nick as a formidable talent in his own right.  He teamed up with Tilbrook again on 2000's highly acclaimed album Harperspace.  

To call him a superlative singer/songwriter could put his highly lauded guitar talent in the shade, and to call him a guitarist’s guitarist might slight his distinctive, soulful voice and passionate songs.  Not forgetting the wild ride that is one of his live shows – from personal introspection to biting political satire via a charmingly caustic wit that would make Groucho Marx proud.   To see Nick Harper live (with a style that combines a multitude of  musical influences from folk to rock, classical to flamenco) is an unforgettable experience, where no two gigs are the same.  His own material is frequently accompanied by segued offerings from Jeff Buckley, Blur, Led Zeppelin, Prodigy; a little Zappa here, a touch of Monty Python there  (and even a few bars of Kylie)  are liable to be thrown into the mix of a two-hour set  - that’s when he’s not walking across glass-littered bartops or never dropping so much as a single note as he re-strings his guitar, mid-song. 

This is all part and parcel of what an audience now comes to expect from this inveterate showman.

“There are some gigs I’ve done where I know something special has happened,” he reveals.  “That I have got to the heart of the song and brought it out with the same feeling as when I wrote it.  Those occasions when the conscious person leaves and you are left with just the song, well, that’s special.”

With 6 studio albums, a double live CD and 2 EPs (including Instrumental, a stunning display of his guitar talents) under his belt, Nick’s work is as fresh and as vital as that of his first solo release in 1994. 

His 2006 album Treasure Island attests to his ability to craft songs that take in, absorb and spit out coruscating political scorn (as on the tracks Knuckledraggers and Sleeper Cell), social history comment (the title track being inspired by an obscure Liverpudlian philanthropist who employed men returning from the Napoleonic Wars to dig tunnels), the seven ages of man (in the infectious melody of By My Rocket Comes Fire), pride in his country (A Wiltshire Tale is an epic poem to his beloved home county), and turn them into catchy, robust tunes that grab the ear and remain in the memory long after the last track has ended.

“I never set out to write songs about something.  All I can ever do is write from the heart.  I try to write songs that mean something to people,” he says.

During 2006 he played a series of festivals around the country, including acclaimed sets at the Moseley Folk Festival (Birmingham), JerseyLive  (Channel Islands) and Beautiful Days (Devon), culminating with an autumn tour which took in an appearance at Wirral’s 18th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain where he (received a standing ovation), and playing live in session  on Janice Long’s Radio 2 show, prompting her to describe him as “absolutely astonishing”.

This year, 2007, has proved to be his most creative and successful to date.  Alongside live sessions for BBC Radio Wales, Scotland and a further session on BBC Radio 2 with Janice Long in May, in April he released the long-awaited DVD, Love Is Music:  a collection of live performances, interspersed with insights from friends, family and fellow musicians.  May saw the iTunes download release of his first single Blue Sky Thinking, taken from the new album. Reaching no. 1 in the iTunes chart, it has received favourable reviews and radio airplay across the UK and Europe.  (All proceeds from the single going to the LoveHopeStrength Foundation.)

His sixth studio album, Miracles For Beginners, was released in June.  A ten-track album of love songs, witty parodies and social and political comment, including Field of the Cloth of Gold (referring to a meeting of the kings of France and Spain, 500 years ago, with a parallel reference to today’s music festivals), Evo Morales (inspired by the Bolivian president), the quirky Simple, and Blue Sky Thinking, a heartfelt ballad on a theme of ‘looking outside the box’.

Early reviews for  Miracles For Beginners:

Mojo:  Miracles For Beginners, his most focused, warm and triumphant album to date” (4 stars)

BBC Online:  Miracles For Beginners is trademark Nick – perfectly constructed folk tunes with impassioned, and often witty, lyricism.”

Scottish Herald:  “Shameless love songs, a heartfelt tribute to the Bolivian president and a kind of medieval talking blues are all borne on masterful acoustic guitar patterns…ten minor miracles.” (4 stars)

Twisted  Ear:  “This album is simply superb…an essential acquisition.” (5 stars)

Americana UK:  “Songs of class and distinction.  This album should be in most homes.”

The Sun:  “Like his dad, he’s a fine folk troubadour and a great guitarist…this is a witty, vibrant affair…a rewarding listen.” (3.5 stars)

Rock ‘n’ Reel:  “…his latest album, Miracles For Beginners, really does shine out as the greatest achievement in a long and often remarkable career.”

 

In early 2007, a call from Mike Peters of Welsh band The Alarm, led to his ongoing involvement with the LoveHopeStrength Foundation, a cancer charity set up by Peters to provide a global support network for cancer survivors.

 Says Nick:  “It’s a great feeling to be given the chance to do something useful; cancer is a terrible disease.”

 In June he took part in Snowdon Rocks!, a climb up Mt Snowdon with a gig near the summit.  In October, he will be part of a 45-strong team of musicians including Glenn Tilbrook, Mike  Peters, Billy Duffy (The Cult) and Jimmy Barnes, mountaineers, cancer survivors and those whose lives have been affected by cancer, taking part in a 14-day trek and acoustic concert at base camp of Mt Everest in aid of the LoveHopeStrength Foundation.  The October trek will culminate with a grand finale concert in Kathmandu and is to be filmed by MTV and the BBC.  For more details, visit http://www.lovehopestrength.com

Nick returns to the UK in November for his 12-date Back From The Naughty Step UK tour (see page 5).

 

Listen to tracks from Miracles For Beginners  and previous albums at:

 http://www.harperspace.com/nick-harper-downloads.html

http://www.myspace.com/harperspace

Image downloads available at:

http://www.harperspace.com/nick-harper-gallery.html

Contact:                            Linn Branson Harper PR

020 8349 9742 / 07956 892359

                                    HarperPR [at] hotmail [dot] co [dot] uk

 

IN OTHERS’ WORDS…

"Frank Zappa would have been impressed… he deserves to become a major figure in his own right." - Robin Denselow, The Guardian, 14 June 2000

 “Harper has so much musicianship in him that it just leaks out all over the place.” - Robert Dawson Scott, The Times, 13 April 2002

"Album of the Month: Son of '70s poet/singer Roy Harper, dubbed 'the acoustic Hendrix' and the 'English Jeff Buckley', Nick Harper's fourth studio album [Blood Songs] rises above this (albeit favourable) baggage… With this amount of melodic and sonic ingenuity, Nick Harper could be dubbed 'the new Beck' - but that would be a bigger compliment to Mr. Hansen than it would be to Harper."  - Guitar (UK), April 2004

“Nick Harper is the best-kept secret in the music industry…Treasure Island finally does Harper’s immense talent justice.”  - Mark Finnigan, Record Collector, March ‏‏2006

“Dylan for the iPod generation…Betjeman with a guitar.” – Julian Piper, Guitarist, March 2006

“This [Treasure Island] is his best album yet.” - Glenn Tilbrook, March 2006

“You must really go and see this man live and then you will fully appreciate the intense virtuosity of his guitar-playing, his soulful singing, the intimate brilliance of his song-writing and the bloody funny way he puts it all across.” - Leigh Marles, Lifestyle, April 2006

“He is magnificent…absolutely astonishing!”  - Janice Long, Radio 2, October  2006

“…the first time I’ve heard of thrash acoustic!” – Mike Read, DJ, Love Is Music DVD, 2007

Shameless love songs, a heartfelt tribute to the Bolivian president and a kind of medieval talking blues are all borne on masterful acoustic guitar patterns…ten minor miracles.” – Rob Adams, Scottish Herald, July 2007

Like his dad, he’s a fine folk troubadour and a great guitarist.  This [Miracles For Beginners] is a witty, vibrant affair…and a rewarding listen.” – The Sun, August 2007

“One of the finest guitarists of his generation…Miracles For Beginners, his most focused, warm and triumphant album to date.” – Phil Alexander, Mojo, August 2007

“…his latest album, Miracles For Beginners, really does shine out as the greatest achievement in a long and often remarkable career.” – Dan Coxon, Rock ‘n’ Reel, September/October 2007

 

 

                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  BACK FROM THE NAUGHTY STEP TOUR          

                                          November 2007

 

 

 

Nov    8                                   BARTON – U-HUMBER        The Carnival

                        9                                  SPILSBY                                 Spilsby Theatre

                      13                      WOLVERHAMPTON             Robin 2

                      14                                 BIRKENHEAD                        International

Guitar Festival

        15                                    DERBY                                   Flowerpot

        16                                    OSWESTRY                           The Ironworks

                    17                        OXFORD                                Zodiac

        20                                    SWINDON                              The Victoria

                    21                                    SWANSEA                             The Chattery

        22                                    CARDIFF                                The Point

                    23                                    LONDON                                Half Moon

                    25                                    PORTSMOUTH                     The Cellars

                       

 

 

                         

 

                  

 

 

 

DISCOGRAPHY

 

1994                EP                   Light At The End Of The Kennel                    Sangraal

 

1995                CD                   Seed                                                                Sangraal

 

1998                CD                   Smithereens                                                    Quixotic

 

1999                EP                   Instrumental                                                    Sangraal

 

2000                CD                   Harperspace                                                   Quixotic

 

2002                CD                   Double Life                                                      Quixotic

 

2004                CD                   Blood Songs                                                    Sangraal

 

2006                CD                   Treasure Island                                               Sangraal

 

2007                  CD                 Miracles For Beginners                                   Sangraal

 

2007                 DVD               Love Is Music

 

2005                    co-wrote and features on Not In My Name, B-side to Make You Happy

                    (single) by  The Levellers                                                          

2006                    WarChild Music – Mojo (live) EP recorded at the Barfly, Camden,

                    London, on June 1 2006.  Nick performs Blood Song