Center of the Gold Country, California,
June 24
I suppose you could say I am just one who never was able to do all he wished he could do in a lifetime. I could never be interested in just one thing, but all things. I suppose it is these twilight years where the dawn is coming closer that I occasionally sit down and write a few of my thoughts. Some stay with me, never seen by others and some I post for the world to see. They are varied subjects, for which my mind will focus on for that time. So for now, allow me to indulge.

FEBRUARY 7, 2009 4:58PM

Richard Thompson, another great overlooked musician

Rate: 17 Flag

I have been seeing a few of posts regarding great guitar players. The most recent was Gregs. As promised here is another of those overlooked  artist who many much better known players couldn't carry his pick.

Richard Thompson was named in the top 20 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 1991 he was awarded the Orville H. Gibson award for best acoustic guitar player in 1991. Often overlooked his career has been more appreciated by critics than the general public.

Cindy and I see over 100 acts a year and when you see as much as Cindy and do you become quite critical and Richard would be one of those I would recommend highly if you were to see just one show a year. He performs solo and with a band. Each is a different show but I would recommend first seeing him solo first as he is amazing as a solo act.

Recently he appeared at the Sierra Nevada Brewery “Big Room” in Chico California. This was broadcast live on KVMR radio in Nevada City. As we could not make that performance I listened to it live on air. I have never heard anyone who could fill a room solo as Richard did that night. It was an inspired performance, the energy leaping out of the speakers and filling the room was so rare. As soon as it was over I called my friend who was engineering for the feed to see his take at the Big Room, he was as high as I have ever heard him about this show. With over 30 years seeing or working so many concerts it is rare for him to be this effusive.

Richards song Vincent Black Lightening 1952 is the most requested song  on NPR. I have seen many guitar players cover this song and only one who has come close to nailing it as Richard has. That one is Canadian guitar player Joel Fafard and I have a board recording of Joel’s performance that I cherish.

Take a listen first to Vincent Black Lightning and then Valarie. You may not have been aware of Richard before but now, if he anywhere near your town drop everything, get a baby sitter, grab your friends and go see one of the greatest live guitar players in the world. Don’t worry, if he is solo you won’t have your ear drums blown out as it will be acoustic.


OK, I forgot and now I am adding this. Richards "Shoot Out the Lights" release was in the Rolling Stone Magazines top 100 releases of the last Century


 1952 Vincent Black Lightning





Author tags:

guitar god., guitar, legend, music

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I adore adore adore RT. He's a true guitar god. (BTW, I always heard he consistently comes out on or near the top of Guitar Player magazine's annual poll of Best Guitarist as voted by professional guitarists. And that he's considered a "guitarist's guitarist). I've had the good fortune to see him live a few times, always solo although one time he joined Bonnie Raitt and her band (he was opening for her). when you see him in person solo you can't believe what one man can do on a guitar (he sounds like he has 2 guitars and 4 hands going at once.) I hope to see him with his own band some time. He's nonpareil.
I saw him at Bonnaroo a few years ago and was completely blown away. I had loved the song "1952 Vincent Black Lighting" for years as covered on Greg Brown's "A Live One" album, but knew little about his music, outside of that song until my wife and I happened to walk by his concert. He was performing with his band, and they absolutely cooked. I was floored. Certainly a musical highlight from 2006.

The first thing I did when we got home was to buy a few of his albums, including his latest album at the time: "Sweet Warrior." Oh man. "'Dad's Gonna Kill Me" is a flat out classic (or at least it should be).
He's fantastic, plays great and I love acoustic guitar. I'd love to see his act. Thanks for the videos! Good post!
Richard Thompson, Hell YES!
The late John Nichols, also a limey, introduced Richard to the Sierra Gold country and Sacramento Valley listeners to his “Saturday Morning Wireless” show. He had a Richard Thompson Half Hour within the show. Before John died from complications from diabetes he became a friend of Richard. John was nearly blind and had the largest collection probably in existence of music from the British Mercy Beat era. John’s friend also included Greg Brown for those who are aware of Greg.
When I was in law school my evidence professor has us all listen to the first song, and then used it to demonstrate some of the foundational principles of the laws of evidence. That's when I fell in love with Thompson.
very good post, my friend. This man can play like no other.
Thanks so much for the videos. these are great
"Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme"

M'oh yes.

And a fine rendition of the song you've posted here, FM. Thanks.
Richard Thompson is certainly a major talent. While he is a great guitarist, I've always loved his voice the most.
Fantastic. It's nice to know you're out there recognizing these great talents and sharing many of them with us. :)
Another artist whose name I've heard, but whose work I don't know. These are marvelous videos. Thanks for sharing them!
I discovered RT while living in Seattle five years ago and my ears have been thanking me ever since. I worked as a barista at a local coffee shop where we could choose our own music and every time I played his music, people would never fail to comment and ask for more. I saw him for the first time last winter in Rockford, Illinois.... a truly magical experience. Thanks for the post!
I missed this last week, Muse. My mistake entirely. Wonderful back story and great music. As a inveterate motorcyclist how could I not love the Vincent song. Thanks much. You keep opening my eyes to great music and fantastic musicians.

I've seen him live and he is fantastic. I first heard about him a long time ago when he was performing with his then-wife Linda. It's insane that he's so little known. And I was very saddened to hear of the recent death of John Martyn.
Love Shoot Out the Lights.

Wish Thompson played more electric.
Monte sent me over -- Love Richard Thompson although I'm new to his music. My brother has been listening to him for YEARS, but I just kind of went yeah yeah sure, but then my friend gave me this CD of live performances that KFOG in SF puts out every year as a fundraiser and I heard (for the first time) an awesomely amazing rendition of 52 Black Vincent Lightning and couldn't stop playing it so started with the Richard Thompson's Best Of CD which I addictive-ly play over and over and now am moving on through the catalog. His stuff is so deep and tender. The only negative is that it also sticks in your head so that if you listen to "I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life," it will be playing in your head ALL DAY. Which I guess is not SUCH a bad thing. (Not evil like "It's A Small World After All," or "Judy in Disguise.")
Seeing Richard live makes one appreciate Richard even more as you well know. I read of the death of John Martyn on the Folk Alliance list and the follow up comments. Another great artist who has left us.
A week ago we lost one of the best guitar builders in the US at the to young age of 50. Lance McCollum built some of the finest acoustic guitars anywhere. Lance had two daughters in high school and no life insurance. It looks as if what was to be his birthday celebration on March 1st now is to be a fund raiser and the small town of Colfax California may have the main street closed to accommodate all those who are coming in to play and toast one for Lance and his family.

Such is the community of Folk Artists.

Thanks for the rating, actually it is Richard who deserves that high rating.

It is hard to pick the best of Richard but the list is pretty long and includes both acoustic and electric. His electric show is different than his acoustic set and ROCKS.

Richard has performed just up the road from you at the Strawberry Music Festival, just outside of Yosemite on more than one occasion. Twice as a solo, once as a duo with Danny Thompson (no relation) and once electric.

The first time they wouldn’t let him off the stage in what has become a legendary performance of “Tear Stained Letter” with the audience singing for nearly 20 minutes “Cry, Cry, hope you better, put it all down in a tear stained letter”.

You may find interest in some of his many releases particularly the last one he did with his former wife, “Shoot out the Lights” which is on the Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 200 releases of the last century.
RT is a true great. I had the good fortune to see him a couple of years ago at a local folk festival.

After looking up his website & bio, I went on to remind myself of the wonderful music of his ex-wife, Linda, and also discovered their son, Teddy.

Terrific musical legacy! Long may it live.