Published On: April 7, 2021 01:03 PM NPT By: Associated Press

British guitarist Thompson’s memoir revisits golden rock era

British guitarist Thompson’s memoir revisits golden rock era

In 1968, the year “Hey Jude” hit the charts, Richard Thompson turned down an invitation to Paul McCartney’s birthday party. On other occasions over the years, Thompson shared the stage with Jimi Hendrix. He also pranked Buck Owens.

Those are among the fun facts found in Thompson’s new memoir, “Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967–1975.” The British guitarist and singer-songwriter, who has long had a small but devout following, revisits his role as observer and participant in a consequential era of rock music.

“I’d been wondering whether I was capable of writing something other than a three-minute song for some time,” he said in an interview from his home in Montclair, New Jersey.

Thompson, 72, says he enjoyed writing his first book, which took three years. He chose to focus on the early part of his career in part because he’s often asked about the 1960s and ’70s.

“It does seem to have been an influential decade of music, and you’re still feeling the reverberations of that now,” he says. “People are still reverential about some of the legendary music figures from that time.”

Many of those names pop up in “Beeswing” — also the title of a Thompson song that encapsulates the era. He was a member of the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention, which brought rock to the British folk tradition, and British folk to rock. His subsequent musical partnership with his first wife, Linda, produced the sublime songs that have served as the foundation of Thompson’s solo career, including “Shoot Out the Lights” and “Wall of Death.”

Thompson laughs when asked why he said no to the McCartney invitation. “I saw the Beatles and the Stones as being an older generation — all of five or six years older than we were — and not being particularly relevant to the kind of music I was into,” Thompson says. “I was more into singer-songwriters at the time. I would have gone to Joni Mitchell’s birthday party.

“I was being a real musical snob. I have to forgive myself for that. If he invites me to his 80th, then I’ll definitely go.” Thompson’s droll wit is evident throughout “Beeswing,” especially in his account of Fairport’s first U.S. tour. At one point, the band members were razzed as long-haired hippies by several men in the next booth at a coffee shop in the Detroit airport.

It turned out to be country music star Owens and his band, so Thompson introduced himself as a huge fan and asked for an autograph.

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