Nicky James

Nicky James
Born (1943-04-02)2 April 1943
Tipton, Staffordshire, England
Died 8 October 2007(2007-10-08) (aged 64)
Genres Blues
Country music
Years active 1960s–2000s
Labels Columbia Records
Philips Records
Threshold Records
Associated acts Moody Blues
Led Zeppelin
The Move
Website Official website

Nicky James (2 April 1943 – 8 October 2007),[1] born Michael Clifford Nicholls, was a British musician and songwriter.


James was born in Tipton, Staffordshire, England. He attended Park Lane School, and at age sixteen moved to Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. After moving to Birmingham he first performed with various musical acts involved in the early "Brumbeat" scene.[2]

James led the early 1960s band the Lawmen before joining Denny Laine and the Diplomats in Spring 1963, which was soon renamed Nicky James with Denny Laine and the Diplomats.[3] After attracting the attention of Pye Records producer Tony Hatch, Nicky left the Diplomats in Fall 1963 to record a solo single, "My Colour is Blue."[4] He continued to play in a number of bands, including the mod band The Jamesons alongside John Walker (aka John Maus) of the Walker Brothers.[5] Soon, James re-united with former Diplomats in a new group, The Moody Blues 5. Two months after James's departure, the band shortened their name to The Moody Blues, signed to Decca Records, and had their first #1 hit at the end of 1964 with "Go Now".

Signing to Columbia Records under the name the Nicky James Movement, James's new project debuted in 1965 with a single version of Stagger Lee. Among the rotating membership of The Nicky James Movement were John Bonham, later the drummer for Led Zeppelin, as well as Bev Bevan of ELO, Mike Pinder of The Moody Blues, and Roy Wood of The Move.[6]

James then moved to Philips Records for 1967s "So Glad We Made It". Four singles followed: "Would You Believe", "Nobody But Me", "Time" and "Reaching For The Sun." James made his full-length debut with 1971's Nicky James.[7] While doubling as a talent scout for Dick James Music publishers in 1966–67, Nicky James signed the newly formed team of Bernie Taupin and Elton John as staff-writers.[8]

In 1972 James signed to the Moody Blues's Threshold Records, and released two more albums: Every Home Should Have One (1973) and Thunderthroat (1976), as well as four further singles, including "Black Dream" in 1972 and "Maggie" in 1976.[5][9] On 20 August 1973, the Nicky James Band recorded for John Peel's radio show on BBC Radio 1.[10]

James appeared on solo albums by Moody Blues members Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas, including From Mighty Oaks (1975) and Hopes Wishes and Dreams (1976), where he worked with noted film composer Trevor Jones.[11][9] He also co-wrote songs with Allan Clarke of The Hollies and Graham Nash of CSNY.[12]

John Bonham of Led Zeppelin described Nicky James as "an incredible singer . . . he could sing any style . . . [and] he had a big following."[13] Bev Bevan of ELO recalled his first encounter with James: "a tall, skinny, good-looking guy with a mop of Brylcreemed black hair, swept back Teddy Boy style . . . he launched into Elvis Presley's One Night With You. He was sensational."[4] NME described James as displaying a "perfected vocal technique that melded the blues with prevalent beat pop tendencies."[7]

James continued to write and perform well into the 21st century; after relocating to Aldbourne in Wiltshire, he founded Stable Studios and continued his prolific recorded output.

He appeared in the 2006 documentary Classic Artists: The Moody Blues, and was working on a new record when he died from complications following a brain tumour,[14] on 8 October 2007. He left a wife, Martine, and children, Sami and Louis.[2]



Solo albums


Peel sessions


  1. Archived 26 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. 1 2 Archived 26 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Denny Laine & The Diplomats". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Nicky James, his wedding tackle and Tony Hatch – Sunday Mercury – Bev Bevan". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  5. 1 2 Bruce Eder. "Nicky James | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  6. "John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums: Jeff Nicholls, Chris Welch, Geoff Nicholls: 9780879306588: Books". p. 18. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  7. 1 2 Archived 27 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. "Nicky James 1943–2007". 15 October 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  9. 1 2 Archived 27 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "Radio 1 – Keeping It Peel – 20/08/1973 Nicky James Band". BBC. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  11. Archived from the original on 24 May 2006. Retrieved 25 August 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. "Build a Free Website with Web Hosting | Tripod". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  13. Welch and Nicholls, John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums, p. 18
  14. Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2007 July To December". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
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