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Richard Thompson is a British musician, best known for his guitar playing and songwriting. Thompson is regarded as one of the most imaginative and individualistic stylists in popular music, as well as one of the most technically proficient.
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As a guitarist Thompson is notable for the breadth of his influences, which range from Buddy Holly and James Burton via Les Paul and Django Reinhardt to less likely influences such as pipe player Billy Pigg, and for his penchant for improvising rather than relying on worked out solos for each song.
Thompson's songs are marked by a very high degree of craft and literacy. Thompson the songwriter has at least as many and as varied influences as Thompson the guitarist. The juxtaposition and combining of different styles is seldom jarring, and the eclecticism serves to give his songs a compositional richness rather than being an end in itself.
Over a long career (he first recorded in 1967 as a member of Fairport Convention), Thompson has received much acclaim from his peers and has consistently been well-regarded by critics. While he has never become a 'household name', even his best-known albums have enjoyed only limited commercial success, he has earned a reputation as a skilled and compelling live performer and a consistently vital recording artist. He continues to write and record new material and plays many live shows each year.