Nicky HopkinsBest known for his work with The Rolling Stones, Nicky Hopkins’ Blues-soaked piano figures also featured on the work of The Jeff Beck Group, The Who, The Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and a host of others. Nicky’s on-going health issues made it extremely difficult for him to commit to the punishing schedules of a touring band, so he worked mainly as a session musician. A talented composer and arranger, Nicky also worked on many film and TV scores.

Nicholas Christian Hopkins was born in West London in 1944, beginning piano lessons at the age of 6, and studying at the Royal Academy of Music from 11 to 16. His tenure in his first band, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages, didn’t last very long so Nicky joined Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers in Hamburg, Germany. On their return to London, they were signed by The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and Nicky was later to play many sessions for the ‘Fab Four’ and on their solo projects. Hanging around The Ealing Club, Nicky joined Cyril Davies‘ All-Stars and played on their acclaimed ‘Country Line Special’. In May 1963, Nicky began to suffer from what later proved to be Crohn’s Disease, and was hospitalised for 18 months. Unable to tour with a working band, Nicky’s instinctive ‘feel’ for an incisive, Bluesy piano riff made him a go-to session man for The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, David Bowie and a host of others. When Jeff Beck formed a band to record his ‘Truth’ album, he recruited Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Micky Waller and Nicky. The ‘Truth’ and ‘Beck-Ola’ albums show the quality of Nicky’s contribution to British Blues, especially his solo on ‘Blues de Luxe’.

Nicky takes a long solo in this sublime example of live British Blues;

Nicky-HopkinsRy Cooder joined Nicky and a few Stones on the ‘Jamming with Edward’ album, cut while they were recording ‘Let It Bleed’, and after touring The States with The Stones, Nicky moved to the USA, settling in San Francisco. In 1973, Nicky recorded his solo album, ‘The Tin Man Was a Dreamer’. In California he was again kept busy as a session player, with The Greatful Dead, Steve Miller Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service (who he joined for a while) and Jefferson Airplane, who he had played with at the Woodstock Festival. His credits over the years would run into many volumes, as he backed everyone from David Soul to Cheech and Chong (Basketball Jones), and he discovered a useful sideline in film scores and TV work. During these years, Nicky played on many Rolling Stones albums and occasionally appeared live with the band, but his health issues were relentless. They often required surgical intervention and, suffering problems following an operation, he passed away in Nashville aged 50. A biography of Nicky was published in 2011, and its title must have been spoken thousands of times before….’And On Piano: Nicky Hopkins’.