Sad songs make me happy; happy songs make me switch off the radio.
-- Linda Thompson, 2002 NPR interview
Singer Linda Peters made a pretty good living recording commercial jingles
and the like. It was a secret she kept from her arty musician peers. A habitue
of the of the English folk (and folk-rock
) scene, she went on to sing mostly backup on albums by Fotheringay
, Sandy Denny
, Fairport Convention
, Heads Hands & Feet, Richard Thompson
, and post-Fairport all-star band
The Bunch (where she sang lead on "Loco-motion" and duetted "When Will I Be Loved" with Sandy Denny).
Peters married folk-rock guitarist Richard Thompson. They performed in the 70s as a semi-popular duo with thousands of fans, hundreds in the US alone.
After a long, reportedly unpleasant retirement to a Sufi commune, the couple returned to performing and found critical acclaim and the beginnings of commercial success, at which time Linda became progressively less able to sing due to a condition diagnosed as spasmodic dysphonia (or less politely, "hysterical dysphonia").
Richard left Linda for another woman, divorced and remarried, in that order. Many hold this against Richard as it is a pattern among ambitious men to marry and be supported by a first wife during his early years of bitter struggle, only to ditch the marriage for another (typically, younger) model when things get better. Richard does not comment on this in public, though reports are the marriage was not happy. When asked, Linda politely claims equal responsibility for the break-up.
With difficulty, Linda recorded several solo projects, which are compiled (along with a few rarities with Richard) on the album Dreams Fly Away. Her first full-fledged solo album, One Clear Moment, was also her last for 17 years.
Linda remarried outside the music industry in the 80s. In interviews she routinely expresses continued admiration of Richard Thompson as a musician. In the late 90s she sung a few guest spots at live rock and folk shows, and on the David Thomas album Mirror Man.
Linda credits her "atonal" singing with David Thomas (himself often famously out-of-key) as having helped her overcome dysphonia.
Linda Thompson released Fashionably Late in 2002. Linda's later voice is richer (at the expense of the purity that made her famous) and deeper, if anything better suited for the sombre material she favors. Linda's son Teddy Thompson, now a recording artist in his own right, writes and performs on most of the new album. Richard plays on one track.
Though performing under the surname "Thompson", in private she uses her current husband's name.
- One Clear Moment (1985, Warner)
- Dreams Fly Away (1996, Hannibal compilation)
- Give Me a Sad Song (2001, Fledg'ling compilation)
- Fashionably Late (2002, Rounder)
Sources: AMG All Music Guide, an NPR All Things Considered feature 4 August 2002, and half-remembered fanzine articles.