The auction of a set of rare recordings made by Nick Drake in the late Sixties has been stopped thanks to a legal dispute over the tapes’ ownership. The Guardian reports that Drake’s estate and record company have called into question whether Beverley Martyn, the folksinger who put the tapes up for sale, is the rightful owner.
The tapes, containing six songs recorded by the English folk singer on a four-track before he had a record deal, were set to go up for auction by auctioneers Ted Owen & Co. The recordings include rare live, single-take versions of several songs that were included on Drake’s 1969 debut album Five Leaves. Since Drake made only three albums before his 1974 death at the age of 26, the appearance of the unknown tapes has been a tantalizing prospect for folk fans. According to the auction guide, in these tapes Drake’s “guitar playing is stronger, more baroque, with the voice smoother and more resonant than the highly produced released versions.”
Martyn, a close friend of Drake’s, was reportedly given the tapes by a representative of Drake’s record company, Island Records, a few years after Drake’s death. She told The Guardian that she has been in poor health and needed to sell the tapes in order to raise money. “I looked after them for 38 years, treasured them,” Martyn said of the tapes. “I know the person who made the tape and they are happy for me to have it. The Drake family even offered to buy it off me eight years ago for £2,000.”
The auctioneer said he hoped the matter could be resolved so the auction could go ahead in October.