Richard & Linda Thompson

London-born folk rockers Richard Thompson OBE (born on April 3rd, 1949) and Linda Pettifer (born on August 23rd, 1947) first teamed up on two tracks from Thompson’s debut album, Henry the Human Fly, shortly after the former Fairport Convention frontman had parted ways with his band. This marked the start of a ten-year romantic and musical relationship between the pair, who married in 1972 and released their debut collaborative album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, in 1974. Despite being backed by Island Records, the sombre LP failed to chart and was initially overlooked by critics until its various re-releases prompted a spate of overwhelmingly positive reviews. The two singer-songwriters released two more albums in 1975 via Island – Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver – which suffered a similar fate. Thereafter, Richard halted his music career and the pair, both newly converted Muslims, relocated to East Anglia to join a Sufi community. Two years on, they returned to London, and Richard resumed his music career while continuing to practice his faith. The couple signed to Chrysalis for two albums, 1978’s First Light and 1979’s Sunnyvista, before being dropped by the label due to lacklustre sales. Both LPs were rooted in spiritual motifs, with the former even weaving direct translations from the Qur’an into its lyrics. A sixth and final Richard & Linda Thompson album, Shoot Out the Lights, came in 1982, with Richard’s voice taking pride of place due to his then-pregnant wife’s breathing problems. It was their first and only to enter the Billboard albums chart, reaching number 203. However, by the time that the duo toured the US together to promote the album, they had already quietly separated, with Richard having had an affair with his tour manager. Both artists have since gone on to have lengthy solo careers, with Richard landing an OBE in 2011 and a top ten album in the UK in 2015. An exhaustive 93-song compilation of their collaborative works, entitled Hard Luck Stories (1972-1982), arrived in 2020.

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