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Nicky Hopkins 9/1994

Nicky HopkinsSeptember 6, 1994 – Nicky Hopkins was born on February 24, 1944 in Perivale, Middlesex to the NE London. He began playing the piano at age 3. As pianist, organ player Nicky recorded and performed on an amazing amount of noted superstar British and American popular music recordings of the 60s and 70s as a session musician.

At the start of the 60s he started out as the pianist with Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages, after which he joined The Cyril Davies R&B All Stars. Due to suffering from Crohn’s disease he mainly focused on studio work in London. He worked extensively for leading UK independent producers Shel Talmy and Mickie Most and performed on albums and singles by The Kinks, The Move, Cyril Davies, Jon Mark, The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Art Garfunkel, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Carly Simon, McGuinness Flint, Bill Wyman, Harry Nilsson, Peter Frampton,  the Easybeats, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield and Cat Stevens and many, many others.

Between 1965 and 1968 hardly a week went by without a record release featuring Nicky on keyboards.

In 1967, after turning down an offer from Led Zeppelin, he joined The Jeff Beck Group, formed by former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, with vocalist Rod Stewart, bassist Ronnie Wood and drummer Micky Waller, playing on their influential LPs Truth and Beck-Ola.

After two years of gruelling schedules he settled in the warm climate of Southern California where helped define the “San Francisco sound”, playing on albums by Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Steve Miller Band. He briefly joined Quicksilver Messenger Service and performed with Jefferson Airplane at the Woodstock Festival. In 1968 he played piano with the Swedish psychedelic group Tages on the single “Halcyon Days”, produced in Abbey Road Studio.

Nicky joined the Rolling Stones live line-up on the 1971 Good-Bye Britain tour, as well as their 1972 North American Tour and the early ’73 Winter Tour of Australia and New Zealand. He recorded a few solo albums but remained one of the most important rock ‘n’ roll session musicians of his time.

Nicky sadly died on September 6, 1994 at age 50 in Nashville, Tennessee, of complications from intestinal surgery necessitated by his ailment.

With a discography that runs from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Zappa, few others can boast such a wide range of credits and a presence on so many important records. As Nils Lofgren said, ‘Nicky wrote the book on rock’n’roll piano’.

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