Before his death following an overdose of anti-depressants aged 26, Nick Drake left a reel-to-reel tape of his first proper recording to musician and friend Beverley Martyn.
Martyn kept the tape but at the age of 67 and in poor health she has decided itis time to part with the valuable recording.
The six songs, recorded before Drake began to record his Five Leaves Left album in 1968, are to be sold by London auctioneers Ted Owen & Co. The tape has been valued for insurance purposes at £250,000.
The tape features Drake playing either guitar and piano and singing his famous songs, such as Fruit Tree, Saturday Sun and Cello Song.
The shy, introverted singer-songwriter who never had much luck himself has influenced many contermporary folk artists. Brad Pitt, who is an ardent fan presented a 2004 documentary about Drake.
"He was young, he sounds full of fun, he sounds light and his guitar playing is absolutely excellent, “ says Beverly Martyn of her old friend, in The Independent. “ It really shows that he didn't need to have this whole layer cake of strings. Okay, the strings were great on the album, but this is just him and it makes it more personal."
Beverley tried to assure Nick that his talent would not be hidden. "I constantly had to reassure him that his music was great and he should think of himself not as being popular now but being popular in the future," she said. "I said, 'One day everyone is going to know who you are, these songs are good, these songs are great, you are an original', but he said, 'No, no.'"
Martyn released her own album earlier this year, The Phoenix & The Turtle, featuring a song she co-wrote with Drake. She was on the bill at the Monterey International Pop Festival in California in 1967. Martyn also toured with Simon & Garfunkel in the USA and performed with Jimmy Page.
"I don't get a proper pension," she said. "I'm not well, I've loads of things wrong with me. I don't want this tape to get lost or get into the wrong hands if anything happens to me.”