Nicky HopkinsNicky (* 1954) showed a talent for music from early age, and after lessons from a local piano teacher, won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London.
His classical studies were interrupted on leaving school at age sixteen when he joined the original line-up of one of the UK’s pioneering rock’n’roll acts, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages. After two years of intermittent touring the entire backing group was picked up by harmonica player and blues purist Cyril Davies, becoming his All Stars.
Nicky was forced to leave the group when he entered hospital in May 1963 for a series of operations. No longer strong enough to contemplate touring, Nicky entered the London session world and quite soon fulfilled his ambition to become the scene’s busiest pianist. Adopted by key producers of the time such as Shel Talmy, he worked with a long list of well-known clients, including the Who, the Kinks, the Easybeats, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield and Cat Stevens. Between 1965 and 1968 hardly a week went by without a record release featuring Nicky on keyboards.
In 1966 CBS released his all-instrumental solo album The Revolutionary Piano Of Nicky Hopkins and the same year saw him recording for the first time with the Rolling Stones, with whom he would go on to record more than a dozen of their finest albums. By the time he guested on the Beatles’ Revolution in 1968, his reputation had begun to spread internationally.
Burnt out by his relentless schedule, Nicky decided to join a band again and, after turning down Led Zeppelin, opted for the Jeff Beck Group, with whom he toured North America and recorded two albums. When working with Beck became too stressful, Nicky headed for the warmer climate of California, recording key albums with the Steve Miller Band, the Jefferson Airplane (with whom he appeared at Woodstock) and Quicksilver Messenger Service, whom he subsequently joined.
After a brief return to England, he was based for many years in Los Angeles.
When the Beatles split up, Nicky went on to work with all four on solo albums. Like many others during the seventies, Nicky was drawn into increasing problems with drugs. His lifestyle became increasingly erratic as the eighties drew nearer and Nicky, who was ill equipped in the first place to cope with substance abuse, came back from the brink of disaster by entering a drug rehabilitation programme.
Homesickness prompted a trial move back to England, where he worked with Art Garfunkel, Jack Bruce, Gary Moore and Sky but the changed face of the music industry dictated a move back to Los Angeles, where he became increasingly involved in music for film and television and had great success with soundtracks in Japan.
Increasing problems with his health led to hospitalisation in 1993 and early the following year he left California in the wake of the earthquakes and moved to the greener and safer climes of Nashville, TN. He continued to work with various clients and was involved in a band project with Joe Walsh and Frankie Miller right up to the end of his life. Nicky died in 1994
by Julian Dawson
Columbia SX 6158
Dick Errington, tenor sax
Bob Mather, baritone sax
Brian O'Shay, trombone
Chris Lamb, trumpet
Dave Wendells, guitar
Nicky Hopkins, organ
Chas Hodges, bass
Carlo Little, drums
If you don't see the left hand menu,
please go back to the homepage.
Back to the homepage