Saturday, February 2, 2013

"And On Piano... Nicky Hopkins" by Julian Dawson

I don't know why I am surprised about this, but this is a very good and enjoyable biography on one of the great session musicians ever - Nicky Hopkins. He played piano on anyone who's important in Rock n' Roll music.  The Beatles, The Stones ( a lot), The Who,  The Kinks, Creation, and his first recording session work is with Lord Sutch on the classic 'Jack The Ripper' produced by mega-genius Joe Meek, for god-sake!

In fact more likely if you hear a piano key on any good recording artist from the 1960's through out the 70's it is more likely by the hands and talent of Hopkins.  He was everywhere!  He was at San Francisco and did all the essential recordings by Steve Miller Band, Quicksilver, and then he was on every Stones album from "Between The Buttons" to "Goat Head's Soup."   My favorite work by him, by far, is on The Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society" album.  That is superb.

The author Julian Dawson did a fantastic job in research, and writing.  Its not easy to write a biography on a somewhat obscure figure in music (although known to fanatics like me), but he makes an interesting narrative that will appeal to the fans, and those who are interested in the side-stories of Rock N' Roll history.  So in that case, this book is pretty much an essential volume that a Rock fan will want -no matter what their taste in music is.

And Nicky's life had its superb highs and really depressing lows.  A product of a loving family, but ill health for the most of his short life.  His career went up and down with additional drug and mostly drink habits.   Scientology took him out of the physical addiction in the end, but still, he suffered from how the music world was changing.  But in the nutshell it sounds like he was very much loved by the music community of its time - and you also get an inside look into the world of The Stones, which doesn't seem to be a great place to be if you are a creative musician contributing to the Stones' recordings.  The Jagger-Richard songwriting credit, is sometimes questionable.

Even though his death was tragic, it ended on a high note where he ends up in Nashville and lovin' it.   Not the easiest book to find, but music lover you, do seek it out and read it!

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