This Thursday, Feb. 24th, is the birthday of a very special musician. His name is Nicky Hopkins, piano player virtuoso. Nicky's keyboardsÂ flavored some of the hippest recordings in rock history. Because of poor health since childhood, Nicky didn't tour a whole lot, he is know mostly for his studio work. A veteran of the early 60s British scene, playing with the Who, The Kinks and of course the Beatles and Stones. That's him you hear on Revolution by the Beatles, and him on John Lennon's solo albums, same for George Harrison and Ringo. He has played and recorded with Paul McCartney, Donovan, and joined the Jeff Beck group that featured Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on guitar.
Nicky, who eventually would move to Marin County (Mill Valley)Â to live and play, helped define the San Francisco music scene of the 60s. You can hear him playing with the Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Steve Miller band. He briefly joined Quicksilver Messenger Service and his inpspired work can be heard on songs like What About Me . He performed with the Airplane at Woodstock. Other notable Nicky riffs can be heard on the Rolling Stones song "She's a Rainbow" and "Sympathy For the Devil". One of Nicky's main complaints regarding the music business was he never received any royalties for his session work, not for any of the songs that became huge hits. Because his status as a "hired hand", the bands felt he was not entitled to collect the $$$. That is one of the reasons he joined Quicksilver Messenger Service, they were fair in their payment to him.
Nicky Hopkins died at age 50, in Nashville Tennessee, of complications from intestinal surgery. The Kink's Ray davies wrote a memorial piece that appeared in theNew York Times after Hopkins death. Nicky Hopkins, a piano man for the ages. Happy Birthday Nicky, on what would have been your 67th.
Peace Out from the Revolution.
Here is a little sample of Nicky's work with the Stones. Check out his runs up and down the 88s.