He is a drummer born James George Nicol in London,
England, who started his life in music as a choirboy at his school in
Battersea, London and was also a percussionist in the Army Cadet Military
Band and the Boys Brigade.
He also worked for the company Boosey & Hawkes doing drum
In 1957 he was a member of Colin Hicks & The Cabin
Boys, who became extremely popular in Italy, and performed on their singles
“La Dee Dah”, “Little Boy Blue” and “Wild
Eyes and Tender Lips”.
A couple of years later he joined up with Vince Eager
& The Quite Three as their drummer and this was
followed by stints with the Oscar Rabin Band, the Cyril Stapleton Big Band
and sessions with Johnny Dankworth and Ted Heath.
Around 1964 he put together the band The Shubdubs
which had members that include the singer Tony Allen and the keyboardist
He worked as a session musician too and was heard by
George Martin when he played on a recording by the Liverpudlian singer
Tommy Quickly. In 1964
Ringo Starr became ill with tonsillitis, requiring him to be hospitalised,
and so George Martin got in touch with Jimmy to request him as the
temporary replacement for the Australasian tour The Beatles were just about
to embark on. He played his
first gig with them in Copenhagen, Denmark on the 4th June and
10 days and 9 gigs later Ringo returned to them in Australia.
He returned to The Shubdubs and recorded the
unsuccessful releases “Husky” and “Humpty Dumpty”
and in the July of 1964 they appeared on the same bill as The Beatles in
Brighton, England. Paul
McCartney later used his remembrance of Jimmy’s answer to how he was
from his performing days with The Beatles, “It’s
getting better”, as the inspiration of the song “Getting
Better” in 1967.
Also in 1964 he worked with Georgie Fame & The
Blue Flames and he released the single “Sweet Clementine” as a
solo artist using the name “The Sound of Jimmy Nicol”.
Jimmy declared himself bankrupt in 1965 but that same
year began performing with The Spotnicks from Sweden, who he recorded and
toured the world with. It was
during their time in Mexico that he decided to stay and established himself
a business there around 1967 where he had a button factory and also
performed with various bossa nova and samba ensembles.
He formed his group the Jimmy Nicol Show in 1969 and
sang his own Spanish version of “Jumping Jack Flash” which
appeared that same year on the Mexican album Era Psicodelica Del a Go Go.
In 1971 he became a member of the Mexican group Blue
Rain and before returning to the UK in 1975 he worked at several
universities, wrote music for film and performed in jazz concerts.
Once back in Britain he set up a business that
Although there had been rumours about his death going
around in 1988, it was reported by the newspaper The Daily Mail that
he was living in seclusion in London in 2005.
There is now an Australian band called The Jimmy
Nicols and his son, Howie, is also active in the entertainment business as
a sound recordist and his work on a BBC Beatles recording collection during
the 1990s gained him a BAFTA Award.