Tag Archives: Nicky Hopkins

Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

February 24, 1944 — September 6, 1994

Nicky Hopkins


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Back of the album cover

I regularly mention in these blog entries that sitting and listening to my vinyl albums “back in the day” was different mainly because my constant companion was the record’s album cover. Perhaps following the lyrics. Perhaps looking at a personnel list. Song timings. Writers. Producers. There was a lot to look at and if the cover were a gatefold, well my goodness gracious! Twice as much for the money. Of course there was always the possibility of even more with a special insert–thank you Sgt Pepper for starting that trend!


One of the names that popped up in seemingly the most widely varied places was this pianist Nicky Hopkins.



Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Misty Woodstock sunrise


When I stared at the Woodstock sunrise that long-ago August 17, 1969 and heard Grace Slick announce “The regular guys…and Nicky Hopkins”  I thought to myself, “There’s that guy again!”


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins
1969-08-17 Sunday sunrise at Woodstock (photo by J Shelley)
Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Nicky Hopkins


Nicky Hopkins had Crohn’s disease from childhood which plagued him in school and during his career, but his talent on the keyboard won him a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.


He had early success playing with bands such as Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages which became part of Cyril Davies’s All Stars. The nascent Rolling Stones occasionally opened for the All Stars.


In May 1963, Crohn’s disease put him in hospital for 19 months during which Cyril Davies died.


Too weak to tour with a band, Nicky Hopkins became a piano sessions player. He would become The piano sessions player.


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Rolling Stones keyboardist


He is perhaps best know for his work with the Rolling Stones–that’s him in the intro sound above with the vocals removed. He worked with Led Zeppelin. The Kinks. The Who. He was in the Jeff Beck Group. The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Steve Miller Band. Quicksilver Messenger Service. Jerry Garcia Band. His credit list at AllMusic feels endless: AllMusic credits


He played electric piano on  the Beatles “Revolution.” He worked with Harry Nilsson


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Jamming with Edward

In 1972, Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, Hopkins released the album Jamming with Edward! [Edward was Hopkins’s nickname]


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins


Hopkins died on 6 September 1994, at the age of 50, in Nashville from complications resulting from intestinal surgery.


In 2010, Random House published a biography, “And On Piano…Nicky Hopkins”, written by Julian Dawson.


Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins

Nicky Hopkins – Piano Blues Jam
Keyboardist Ubiquitous Nicky Hopkins
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Rolling Stones Circus

Rolling Stones Circus

Rolling Stones Circus
Rolling Stones Circus
Less than nine months before the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and its 130-plus performers, the Rolling Stone Circus came to town.

Organized by the Rolling Stones just after their release of Beggars Banquet, they were looking for a way to promote the album in a fun way. Why not a Rock and Roll Circus?

They filmed it on December 11, 1968. As well as clowns and acrobats, John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed as part of a super group called The Dirty Mac which included Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards.  The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull also performed. It was originally meant to be aired on BBC, but the Rolling Stones withheld it because they were unhappy with their performance. A film was eventually released in 1996.

Here's the Lennon clip with some wonderful conversation between Mick and John before "Yer Blues." Two mates having some fun.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" with Woodstock Music and Art Fair alum  Nicky Hopkins on piano (he sat in with the Jefferson Airplane for their sunrise serenade).

Rolling Stones Circus
Sadly, this also marked the final appearance of Brian Jones, who died within six months of filming the special.
The Ultimate Classic Rock site says, For all the controversy and mystery surrounding it..‘The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus’ now comes across as a quaint time capsule of the last days of Swingin’ London. And as strange as the idea of combining a rock concert and a circus may be, it manages to work, even if the only person who wasn’t stoned was the guy who ate fire.  (Ultimate Rock article)
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