Q&A March/April 2011, Part IV

Last night in Austin, the MC referred to you as "Sir Richard Thompson." Whether this was merely in recognition of your talent and stature or whether he was yet another one of us Britain-impaired folks who thought that this was actually your title was hard to say. Do you get people referring to you as "Sir Richard" a lot since the OBE? Pam

I think I commented on this last month, but to repeat - KBE is the Knighthood, and that gets the 'Sir'.

Flying into Tokyo a couple weeks ago, I ran into Larry Carlton at Narita Airport. I thanked him for coming to play when things had been so difficult here, good music was just what we needed. When I got home I found out that my reservations for Richard's shows at Billboard live had been cancelled and that he wasn't coming this week as expected. I've waited over 5 years for Richard to play here. I saw him last at Club Quattro a long time ago.  So what's up/? When will he come back? We need your music, Richard. Phillip Matz - Tokyo, Japan

I was very sorry the shows were cancelled. We are trying to reschedule for next year.

I was intrigued by the scheduled Japan concerts and, of course, the subsequent events causing their cancellation were a major tragedy. Out of curiosity, how did those shows come about? They did not seem to have been part of a wider Pacific-region tour. Do you have a known audience there? As someone aged 55, my memory of western artists in Japan runs to Deep Purple & Cheap Trick! Brian Hayes - Ottawa ON

I have a reasonable following in Japan. This would have been my 5th trip. Economically, it made more sense to just do these shows and return home, and not do a wider tour.

Re: Your music
I have admired your music for many years and have recently become a Muslim. Is there a book about your conversion? Sorry, I forgot to mention that my name is Dave Robertson.

Sorry, there isn't.

I wanted to ask you your view on the great Sword of Damocles for musicians: drugs, or more broadly, stimulants and other Sins of the Flesh that have seen so many great musicians brought low before their time.

Obviously, for every Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin or a Sandy Denny, there is a Keith Richards or a Lou Reed. Some survive the ravages of fame and wretched excess, others tragically do not. But some of the all time greatest albums most likely would likely never have come to being without drugs.

Have you ever had a problem with any vice that you felt had gone beyond your control, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.? If so, how did you cope? And how have you seen the tolerance of managers, record labels, and bandmates change over the years towards tolerating the vices of musicians?

Thanks, and I'd like you to know how much pleasure your music has given me for many years. David Hayhurst

I dealt with all this in a previous Q&A - please see archives.

A question inspired by 1000 years of popular music. In your estimation, who is the most well-rounded and versed musician that you know (personally or as a fan): someone who could be dropped into many musical situations and has a vocabulary that encompasses numerous styles. That would be a fun person to play with I'll bet. Joseph - Stamford, CT

Pete Zorn in my own band is pretty versatile - plays many instruments and many styles. Probably session musicians have to be the most versatile. Someone like Tommy Tedesco, the great guitarist from the Los Angeles studio scene, was basically a jazz player, who could do anything else, and played on a huge number of pop hits. He also played banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, etc. You can hear him on Monkees records, all those Phil Spector things, Nut Rocker by B Bumble and the Stingers, etc.

I hope everything is going well for you!  I think you recorded the performance of "Cabaret of Souls" at UCLA Royce Hall last November 19, 2010.  How did it come out?  Were you satisfied enough with the recording to release it on cd sometime in the future?  Any plans to perform this piece live again?  Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Cordially yours, Dave Andrews

We did make a recording, but the machines messed up, and the results are unusable. So now we are planning a studio recording with the Royce cast, to be done over the summer, for a release later in the year.