Last updated Saturday February 06, 2021 at 15:05:00
13 February 1945 – 21 January 2021
Photo taken at The Talbot Hotel, Southport 7th June 2013 - FB
Born in Ilford, Essex, Nichols was a child actor and an award-winning accordionist in his youth. He began by playing ragtime tunes, gaining notoriety in the 1970s in London when forming the band New Sedalia. Nichols also formed the Ragtime Orchestra in the mid-1970s along with Mo Morris, Richard Warner and Paul Nossiter. Nichols also recorded and gigged with Bing Crosby, and Dick Sudhalter during this period. Over time he moved on to Dixieland jazz, Swing, and orchestral Jazz, including the oeuvres of Paul Whiteman and Duke Ellington. Nichols was also a frequent sideman for the EMI record label and an arranger for the New York Jazz Repertory Company, Dick Hyman and the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. In 1978 he helped lead the Midnite Follies Orchestrawi th Alan Cohen. Other artists Nichols has worked with include Digby Fairweather, Harry Gold, Richard Pite and Claus Jacobi.
This item posted on Facebook today - "Very sad news. Keith Nichols passed away this morning. Keith had gone into London Hospital last Friday with problems relating to a much delayed prostate operation. Whilst in hospital he fell ill with Covid. His wife Eve asked me to let everyone know on Facebook. Keith was a marvellous pianist, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and authority on vintage jazz. He was a delightfully funny presenter and mixed scholarship and wit in a singularly entertaining way. He'll be sorely missed.
by Richard Pite
This is awful news .
is very sad news indeed for everyone who loves vintage jazz,
and was a real shock to me - I've know Keith as a friend
since the early'70's when he and Neville Dickie guested as a
duo at the Redhills in Durham where I was playing with Clive
Madgin's Savoy Jazzmen. Over the years I've been lucky
enough to play with Keith on countless occasions, and had
many a great night, and many a great laugh, with him.
This is sad news indeed Fred. I had the privilege of performing with Keith on several occasions. He was indeed a most talented and entertaining person.
A lovely, sensitive pianist and a lovely, sensitive man. Eternal thanks for all the magical moments he gave me whenever I heard him play. He will be missed by so many but especially my condolences to his wife Eve.
This news of Keith's passing was just relayed to me by Dave Wellock before I'd visited your site. We are both totally creased by this shock. What an amazing musician, someone with a great turn of phrase and thoroughly nice with it. He was a regular with us for eight visits and ensured a full house each time. In fact we had not long embarked on jazz promotion, when we had Keith and Sportinghouse Strings on event no. 5. Because we couldn't afford to put them in a hotel, they stayed in our houses. Richard Vernon and ' Spats' took our spare rooms and we gave Keith our bed. Meryl and I slept on the settees. Hell I'd do it again just to have that lovely man back with us. May the Gods be with you Keith.
We lived and were brought in Redbridge and South Woodford, only 4.5 miles from each other.
When we were around 19 years old I had a band, I think we were called the "Smoke City Stompers". On Sundays we used to all get on the Underground and travel up to Islington and play in the "Pied Bull' pub. On the way home we used to set up in the train and entertain the travellers. (I don't think we would be allowed to do it these days 🤔. The reason I mention this is that Keith played in the band on tuba, and was great even then.
Around that time he was at Music College in London. He wanted to go to the Royal College of Music but his Dad brought the wrong application form home. it was for the Guildhall School of Music, where he stayed. Ironically, for the last several years Keith has been lecturing 'The History Of Jazz' at the RCM.
If I ever needed to get Keith for a gig, I always knew where to find him...at lunch time, on the concert grand piano in the college auditorium, playing rags, with loads of students surrounding the piano. Bear in mind that jazz was frowned on by many music colleges.
Around the mid 70s I took over the 'Pindar of Wakefield'), a pub in Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross, London. I wanted to have some entertainment at lunchtimes for the business clientele so I asked Keith to do some lunchtime jazz sessions along with Jim Cox on banjo. This became such a success, Keith continued the sessions along with evening sessions, for many many years, way after I had moved on. Many guest jazz players came along and sat in.
Of course Keith, a multi instrumentalist, over the years went on to much great heights, and played and arranged with world class musicians, even to do the arrangements and record with Bing Crosby.
In 1980 I was running Caesars Palace night club in Luton (not Vegas unfortunately) Keith appeared with his Cotton Club Orchestra.
Later on in the 80s, I took over the running of the Grand Hotel in Bayswater, London and always wanted a grand piano playing in the foyer. I booked Keith for the gig 5 nights each week...We themed the nights, so one night he would play songs from Great American Songbook, another he would play Ragtime and so on with Stride, Latin etc. We built a shelf around the shape of the grand piano along with high chairs. hotel guests were able to sit around the piano and chat to Keith and make requests.
So many other memories I have...maybe another time.
Keith was a good friend and influenced me in all I did musically (to a much much lesser extent). As well as being a great musician, arranger and multi instrumentalist, KEITH along with Eve (and of course the dogs), WAS A REALLY LOVELY MAN. He will be greatly missed .
Rest In Peace Keith.
Hello Fred. So sad to hear about Keith Nicols. Saw him many times, the last at The Pumphouse in Watford. He will be remembered as one of Britain's most talented musicians.
Best wishes to all.
Keith Nichols and myself , photo taken on my camera by none other than.......Enrico Tomasso.
'Keith brought his Hot 5 to Roa Island Jazz Club for nearly 20 years. Terrific stuff. Always a full house.'
I'd like to add my sincere condolences on the passing of Keith Nichols.
A superb musician who helped so many over the years. If you were ever on a gig with house backing, what a relief to see Keith at the piano - you could never play too fast for Keith, his playing was a joy. His 10 CDs Vintage Jazz Play-along volumes would definitely recommend.
Keith, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten. RIP Keith.
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