'John Cage had been one of my heroes since the age of seventeen'
Recently I have found new books far more engrossing than new classical recordings. One of my most rewarding reads has been the first volume of Richard Thompson's autobiography Beeswing. Richard Thompson is best known as co-founder of the legendary folk-rock group Fairport Convention. A few years ago I wrote about his exploration of the Sufi path, and I have also recounted the untold story of the counterculture's Islamic connection in an exclusive interview with Ian Whiteman - aka Abdallateef Whiteman - who with Richard Thompson was a member of the fabled Bristol Gardens Sufi commune in 1970s London.
Beeswing is much more than a rock memoir. It name checks, among others, Delius, Bliss, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Wagner, Satie, Granger and Stockhausen, and includes this John Cage anecdote:
"During that tour, our driver, Walter Gundy, needed to pick something up from his house in upstate New York, and I went with him. There were two units in his rental, and he mentioned John Cage lived in the other half, when he wasn't staying in the city. Cage had been one of my heroes since about the age of seventeen, when I read his book Silence and first heard his music while working with Hans Unger, so I was keen to meet him. Sadly he wasn't there, but his apartment was interesting - there was rush matting on the floor, a simple single mattress in a corner, plain white walls and a small book-shelf with musical scores and books on Zen. After that, I decided to go minimalist myself."
I wonder how many classical commentators, yet alone classical musicians, will be name-checking Richard Thompson and other non-classical musicians in their future writings?
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