Nicky Hopkins was a well-known English pianist and session keyboardist who worked on a number of notable American and British music albums over the course of three decades, including some classics. He remained the most important and busy session performer in rock music history, contributing to a slew of legendary and famous albums. Few people can claim of a discography that includes the who’s who of the pop and rock genres at the time. The ‘Beatles,’ Led Zappelin, the ‘Rolling Stones,’ the ‘Kinks,’ the ‘Who,’ the ‘Easybeats,’ and the ‘Quicksilver Messenger Service’ are among the bands with which he has collaborated. He has collaborated with a number of musicians, including Cat Stevens, Jackie Lomax, John Winston Ono Lennon, Rod Stewart, and George Harrison. ‘Between the Buttons,’ ‘Tattoo You,’ and ‘Exile on Main St.’ with the ‘Rolling Stones,’ ‘The Kink Kontroversy,’ and ‘Face to Face,’ with the ‘Kinks,’ and ‘Just for Love,’ and ‘What About Me,’ with the ‘Quicksilver Messenger Service,’ are just a few of the notable albums that include his contributions. ‘The Tin Man Was a Dreamer’ and ‘No More Changes’ are two of his solo albums. He tried multiple times to create solo albums but was never successful, and he generally stayed in the shadow of his celebrity music partners and colleagues.
Childhood and Adolescence
Alfred Hopkins and Freda Hopkins raised him in a middle-class home in Perivale, Middlesex, on February 24, 1944. His father was a tough disciplinarian and accountant. Hopkins attended ‘Wembley County Grammar School,’ which is now known as ‘Alperton Community School.’ He showed an aptitude for music at the age of three and began playing the piano shortly after.
He began a collecting hobby as a youngster, which he continued throughout his life. Though he began his piano studies with a local teacher, he eventually received a scholarship at the prestigious ‘Royal Academy of Music’ in London. He had been sick since he was a child and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was young. Because of his deteriorating health and frequent operations, he had to settle for a career as a studio musician.
Career of Nicky Hopkins
He dropped out of school in 1960 before finishing his studies to join the ‘Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages’ as a pianist. All of the group’s backup members, including Hopkins, Carlo Little, Bernie Watson, and Ricky Fenson, were picked up by Cyril Davies, the famed harmonica player who left the ‘Blues Incorporated’ in October 1962, and created the ‘Cyril Davies R&B All Stars’ following a two-year tenure.
On February 27, 1963, he played piano on the band’s first recorded hit, ‘Country Line Special,’ which is also Davies’ most renowned composition. Hopkins, however, was forced to leave the band in May 1963 due to bad health. He had to undergo a series of life-threatening surgery and was bedridden for about 19 months.
The ‘Cyril Davies R&B All Stars’ split after Davies’ death from endocarditis on January 7, 1964. Because his condition prohibited him from travelling much, he mostly worked as a studio musician, quickly becoming one of London’s most in-demand and busiest pianists. His skill as a pianist allowed him to play on several popular albums during that time period, including those by Led Zeppelin, the ‘Rolling Stones,’ the ‘Kinks,’ the ‘Pretty Things,’ and the ‘Easybeats,’ among others. He also collaborated with English record producer Andrew Loog and American record producer Shel Talmy on a number of projects.
He made his true breakthrough when he accepted Shel Talmy’s invitation to join the Kinks and recorded four studio albums with them. The Kink Kontroversy (1965), ‘Face to Face’ (1966), ‘Something Else by the Kinks’ (1967), and ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’ (1968) are the albums in question (1968). In 1966, he recorded and published his debut single, Mr. Big, as well as his first solo album, ‘The Revolutionary Piano Of Nicky Hopkins.’ ‘The Tin Man Was a Dreamer’ (1973) and ‘No More Changes’ (1975) were his second and third solo albums, respectively. However, the fourth, ‘Long Journey Home,’ was never issued.
In 1967, he joined the ‘Jeff Beck Group’ and appeared on two of their albums, ‘Truth’ and ‘Beck-Ola.’ In the same year, he collaborated with the ‘Rolling Stones’ on their album ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ and song ‘We Love You,’ beginning a relationship that saw the band record some of their best-known albums.
He also played and recorded for a number of San Francisco bands, including the ‘New Riders of the Purple Sage,’ the ‘Jefferson Airplane,’ and the ‘Steve Miller Band.’ He was a member of the American psychedelic rock band ‘Quicksilver Messenger Service’ from 1969 to 1971, contributing to albums such as ‘Shady Grove’ (1969), ‘Just for Love’ (1970), and ‘What About Me’ (1971). (1970).
Three members of the ‘Rolling Stones,’ Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, as well as Hopkins and Ry Cooder, recorded the album ‘Jamming with Edward!’ in 1969, and it was published in 1972. He also contributed to the album’s cover art. He added to his resume in the early 1970s by contributing to a number of albums by famed American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, including ‘Son of Schmilsson’ and ‘Nilsson Schmilsson.’
He performed live on stage for several of the ‘Rolling Stones’ performances, including the Good-Bye Britain Tour in 1971, the North American Tour in 1972, and the Winter Tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1973, but due to ill health, he was unable to join the band on their Europe tour in 1973. In 1975, he traveled with the ‘Jerry Garcia Band’ from August 5 to December 31. Between 1992 and 1993, Hopkins’ three soundtrack albums, ‘Namiki Family,’ ‘The Fugitive,’ and ‘Patio,’ were released in Japan.
Major Projects of Nicky Hopkins
From 1967 through 1981, he was a member of the ‘Rolling Stones’ studio band. ‘Between the Buttons’ (1967), ‘Beggars Banquet’ (1968), ‘Exile on Main St.’ (1972), ‘Emotional Rescue’ (1980), and ‘Tattoo You’ are among the famous ones (1981). Hopkins played important piano parts to songs including ‘She’s a Rainbow’ (1967), ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ (1968), ‘Sway’ (1971), ‘Angie’ (1973), and ‘Waiting on a Friend’ (1981).
In 1968, he performed electric piano on the Beatles’ song “Revolution.” It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this famous English rock band to induct him as a non-member for a recording. His international reputation as a session keyboardist had risen by this time. Following the band’s disbandment in 1970, he worked independently with each of the four members, including George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney, on albums such as “Ringo,” “Flowers in the Dirt,” “Living in the Material World,” and “Imagine.”
Personal History and Legacy
Linda was his first wife, whom he divorced in 1986. He afterwards married Moira Buchannan and spent the remainder of his life with her. Hopkins died in an early death in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 6, 1994, from complications apparently connected to his longtime Crohn’s condition.
Estimated Net Worth
Nicky is one of the wealthiest pianists and is on the list of the most popular pianists. Nicky Hopkins’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.