'Those long lecture-free days in France were tailor-made for Nick to practice his guitar. That's what people remember about him during those months leading up to what became known as the Summer of Love. Jeremy Mason recalls going to a bookshop with Nick and buying a copy of Baudelaire's poems Les Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil).
They read Dostoevsky and Rimbaud. And they had a cheap old gramophone for which Nick bought a copy of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, a work which he was always keen to have around and which may have just been the last piece of music he heard before he died seven years later.
His earliest outings with the guitar were as a busker. Simon Crocker joined him on harmonica a few times in the streets of Aix and even, on a couple of occasions, near the chic harbour area of fashionable St Tropez.'
The words above are from Trevor Dann's superb new biography of singer-songwriter Nick Drake who died in 1974, aged just 26. Nick Drake was in St Tropez in the summer of 1967, and so was another British student also taking a year off between school and university.
Roger Vadim's 1957 film And God Created Woman (Et Dieu... créa la femme) with its cast of Brigitte Bardot , Curd Jürgens , and Jean-Louis Trintignant had positioned St Tropez at the epicentre of the sensual world. In 1967 St Trop was chic, and Bardot was topless on the Plage de Pampelonne. But St Tropez was also where it was happening musically and artistically, and there was magic (and something else) in the air.
The highlight was Jean Jacques Lebel's production of the Picasso play Desire Caught By The Tail in a vast circus tent near the sea, with music by Soft Machine. The sound was pretty impressive in the auditorium, it was almost as impressive on the beach at Grimaud, three miles away, where I grabbed a few hours sleep each night.
I had the one of the first Olympus camera with me, a 35mm half-framePen S. The photos here were all taken in St Tropez in August 1967 on Kodachrome 2 slide stock, and have never been published before. Somewhere in those crowds was Nick Drake ...
Nick Drake resources On An Overgrown Path include * A Skin Too Few * A troubled cure ... for a troubled mind * Monteverdi in Cambridge * Smile why it has been * All photos by Pliable and copyright On An Overgrown Path.
Trevor Dann's book Darker Than The Deepest Sea, The Search For Nick Drake is published by Portrait, ISBN 0749950951. Other I am a camera photo features On An Overgrown Path * Berlin * Dresden * Leipzig * Aldeburgh *