5 Unforgettable Richard Thompson Covers by Robert Plant, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, & More

Lauded British folk-rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist Richard Thompson celebrated his 75th birthday on April 3, 2024. Thompson has had a long and prolific career that began in the late 1960s with the groundbreaking U.K. folk-rock band Fairport Convention.

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After leaving Fairport Convention in 1971, he launched a solo career before teaming up with his first wife in the acclaimed duo Richard & Linda Thompson. When the couple split in the early 1980s, Richard resumed his solo career, which continues to be his major musical focus. Throughout his career, Thompson also has lent his inventive and virtuosic guitar talents to recordings by a wide variety of other artists.

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Along the way, many well-known musicians have covered Thompson’s songs. In honor of his birthday, here are five unforgettable versions of Thompson tunes by other artists:

Robert Plant – “House of Cards” (2010)

Robert Plant recorded a version of “House of Cards” for his 2010 album Band of Joy. The original version of the tune appeared on the 1978 Richard & Linda Thompson album First Light.

Plant’s appreciation of Thompson’s work dates back decades. Fairport Convention was cited as a major influence on Led Zeppelin. In fact, Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny became the only guest vocalist ever to appear on a Led Zeppelin song when she duetted with plant on the group’s 1971 tune “The Battle of Evermore.”

[RELATED: Lines, Please: 8 Amazing Lyrical Moments from Richard Thompson]

Meanwhile, Plant had previously enlisted Thompson to play on a song called “Come into My Life,” from his 1993 solo album, Fate of Nations.

Plant’s rendition of “House of Cards” is a celebratory folk-rock tune featuring upbeat harmonies from Patti Griffin, Bekka Bramlett, and Buddy Miller. Miller also sounds like he’s channeling Thompson with his fleet folk-guitar riffing.

Linda Ronstadt – “King of Bohemia” (2006)

Linda Ronstadt’s 2006 album Adieu False Heart, a collaboration with Cajun-music vocalist Anne Savoy, included a cover of “King of Bohemia.” The original version appeared on Thompson’s 1994 solo album Mirror Blue.

Ronstadt wraps her beautiful, clear voice floats through the slow-tempo folk tune’s melancholy melody. Adieu False Heart was Ronstadt’s final studio album before she announced her retirement from music in 2011 because of the effects of a neurodegenerative disease.

Los Lobos – “Shoot Out the Lights” (2004)

Los Lobos recorded a version of Thompson’s “Shoot Out the Lights” for their 2004 release Ride This – The Covers EP.

“Shoot Out the Lights” was the dramatic title track to Richard & Linda Thompson’s critically acclaimed sixth and final album together.

The EP was a companion piece to Los Lobos’ 2004 album The Ride, which featured the roots-rock band collaborating with various guest artists. Thompson sings on a track called “Wreck of the Carlos Rey.”

Bonnie Raitt – “Dimming of the Day” (1994)

Bonnie Raitt covered Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day” on her 1994 album Longing in Their Hearts. Thompson also contributed guitar to the track.

“Dimming of the Day” is a heartfelt acoustic-folk love ballad that originally appeared on the 1975 Richard & Linda Thompson album Pour Down Like Silver. Raitt’s emotive and clear vocals perfectly capture the mood of the tune.

Raitt previously had enlisted Thompson to play guitar on two tracks from her 1991 album Luck of the Draw.

Several other well-known artists have also covered “Dimming of the Day” over the years, including Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, The Neville Brothers, and Alison Krauss & Union Station.

Elvis Costello – “Withered and Died” (1984)

In 1984, Elvis Costello recorded a version of Thompson’s “Withered and Died” that was released as the B-side of “Peace in Our Time,” a single from Costello’s Goodbye Cruel World album.

“Withered and Died” is a despair-filled country ballad that was featured on the 1974 Richard & Linda Thompson album I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.

Costello’s rendition simply features Elvis accompanying himself on strummed acoustic guitar. The track was later made available on expanded reissue versions of Goodbye Cruel World and on the 1987 Out of Our Idiot compilation.

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