Roy Harper (born 12 June 1941) is an English folk rock singer, songwriter and guitarist who has been a professional musician since 1964. Harper has released 22 studio albums and 10 live albums across his 50-year career.
Harper's earliest musical influences were American blues musician Lead Belly and folk singer Woody Guthrie and, in his teens, jazz musician Miles Davis. Harper was also exposed to classical music in his childhood and has pointed to the influence of Jean Sibelius's Karelia Suite. Lyrical influences include the 19th century Romantics, especially Shelley, and Keats's poem "Endymion". Harper has also cited the Beat poets as being highly influential, particularly Jack Kerouac. As a musician, Harper is known for his distinctive fingerstyle playing and lengthy, lyrical, complex compositions, a result of his love of jazz and Keats.
His influence upon other musicians has been acknowledged by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Pete Townshend, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, who said Harper was his "...primary influence as an acoustic guitarist and songwriter." Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph described him as "one of Britain’s most complex and eloquent lyricists and genuinely original songwriters." Across the Atlantic his influence has been acknowledged by Seattle-based acoustic band Fleet Foxes, American musician and producer Jonathan Wilson and Californian harpist Joanna Newsom with whom he has also toured.
In 2005, Harper was awarded the MOJO Hero Award, and in 2013 a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. In 2011, to celebrate his 70th birthday, he performed a celebratory concert at London's Royal Festival Hall. His most recent album, Man and Myth, was released in 2013.