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Any Major Nicky Hopkins Collection

February 22nd, 2024 Leave a comment Go to comments



Some time ago, a follower of this little corner of the Internet requested that I add pianist Nicky Hopkins to the series on session musicians. It was a good idea.

On February 26, Hopkins would have turned 80. Sadly, he never got to experience the advance of old age. He died on September 6, 1994, at the age of 50, after an operation relating to his lifelong battle with Crohn’s disease. Matthew Sweet’s Swan Song, on which Hopkins appeared, was released a year earlier. Its title and timing made it the natural closing track for the CD-R playlist.

In his time, English-born Hopkins’ versatility and adaptability made him one of the most sought-after session pianists and keyboardist. On the English scene in the 1960s alone he played with acts like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, Cat Stevens and, especially, The Rolling Stones.

In the US he backed acts like Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Lee Hazlewood, The Steve Miller Band, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Art Garfunkel, Gene Clark, Jerry Garcia Band (of which he briefly was a member), Martha Reeves, Tina Turner, Climax Blues Band, Carole Bayer Sager, Jennifer Warnes, Eddie Money, Meat Loaf, The Jayhawks and others.

Hopkins had a particularly close relationship with The Rolling Stones, to the point that he was something of an adjunct member. He played on all their studio albums from 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request to Tattoo You in 1981, except for 1978’s Some Girls. It’s fair to say that Hopkins played a substantial role in shaping the Stones’ sound.

The Who also valued Hopkins highly. His presence was central on 1971’s pivotal Who’s Next album. Pete Townshend would have liked him to join The Who full-time, politely inviting Hopkins: “If you would ever like to join a band, we’d love to be considered first.”

He played the electric piano on The Beatles Revolution (the rock version), and later Hopkins played on solo records of all four Beatles, mostly for Lennon but for Paul not until 1989.

Hopkins was an innovator in rock, on par with many of the great names of the era. He was technically brilliant, versatile and creative. His piano could be gentle and melodic, but it could also be powerful, driving a song. His creative input and musical ideas helped shape the songs of many artists he worked with.

The playlist closes with a band Hopkins of which was a member. In 1967, he joined the Jeff Beck Group, which had as its lead singer Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood on bass and future session man Micky Waller on drums. After that, from 1969-70, Hopkins was a member of US psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. All the time he still did session work. One client was Jefferson Airplane, with whom he appeared at Woodstock.

Hopkins released three solo albums in his time. The first was an easy listening effort titled The Revolutionary Piano Of Nicky Hopkins in 1966. In 1973 and 1975 two more albums followed, The Tin Man Was A Dreamer and No More Changes. Among the session players on the former was saxophonist Bobby Keys, himself the subject of a Any Major Collection.

Keys played on many sessions with Hopkins, including several Stones songs and the featured Martha Reeves track, a rousing cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night. That recording also had Jim Keltner on drums, himself the subject of two Collections (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Hopkins played with Keltner on several John Lennon songs (including the hit #9 Dream). Hopkins, Keltner and Keys were all playing on the featured Carly Simon track.

All previous Session Players’ Collections are up again. As always, the playlist is tied to fit on the standard CD-R (that is, without the bonus tracks), and includes home-slurred covers and the text above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Beatles – Revolution (1968)
2. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
3. The Who – Getting In Tune (1971)
4. Nicky Hopkins – Shout It Out (1973)
5. Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)
6. Rod Stewart – You’re In My Heart (1977)
7. Martha Reeves – Wild Night (1974)
8. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966)
9. Cat Stevens – Matthew & Son (1967)
10. Nilsson – Joy (1972)
11. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud Loud Music (1972)
12. Lee Hazlewood – The Night Before (1970)
13. The Steve Miller Band – Never Kill Another Man (1970)
14. Joe Cocker – I Can Stand A Little Rain (1974)
15. John Lennon – How (1971)
16. Climax Blues Band – I Love You (1980)
17. Brooklyn Dreams – A Moment In Time (1980)
18. Badfinger – Lost Inside Your Love (1979)
19. Eddie Money – Gimme Some Water (1978)
20. Tina Turner – The Acid Queen (1975)
21. Matthew Sweet – Swan Song (1993)
22. Meat Loaf – More Than You Deserve (1981)
23. Jennifer Warnes – You’re The One (1976)
24. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
25. Quicksilver Messenger Service – Just For Love (Part 1) (1970)
26. The Easybeats – Heaven & Hell (1967)
27. Jeff Beck – I’ve Been Drinking (1968)


Previous Session Musicians:
The Roy Bittan Collection
The Larry Carlton Collection
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Joe Osborne Collection
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:
  1. amdwhah
    February 22nd, 2024 at 08:08 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. wayoutwest
    February 22nd, 2024 at 18:01 | #2

    Thanks, it’s a wonderful set of songs. Nicky was a fine pianist for so many styles and settings.

    If anyone is looking for these songs on Spotify, both the Brooklyn Dreams and Matthew Sweet tracks are not available. For the Jeff Beck Group tune, you can find it as part of Rod Stewart’s Storyteller collection.

  3. Dave Heasman
    February 22nd, 2024 at 20:58 | #3

    He played with Airplane not Starship at Woodstock. Hey Frederick on Volunteers is a showcase

  4. amdwhah
    February 22nd, 2024 at 21:35 | #4

    Of course, Airplane. Thank you for alerting me to the slip-up. I have corrected it in the text.

  5. Fredrick Beondo
    February 23rd, 2024 at 00:24 | #5

    In the way early, non-UI version of the old Internet LOL, my mother had me find her Tin Man Was A Dreamer on CD, and I ordered it from Japan, as that was the only place it was available. It has become one of the albums that must be on my iPod or in some fashion ever since.

    Thank you for this collection. :)

  6. Tim
    February 25th, 2024 at 11:16 | #6

    Thank you once again. Seems that the Ricky Lawson Pt 2 collection still has a zippy link, but who am i to ask ;)?

  7. amdwhah
    February 25th, 2024 at 12:06 | #7

    Oh, ask and ye shall receive. The link has been updated. Thanks for alerting me!

  8. Crinan Dunbar
    February 26th, 2024 at 17:09 | #8

    Wot… no ‘Girl from Mill Valley Girl’ from the Jeff Beck Group ‘Beck-ola’ album. Looking forward to discovering more on the tracks you have chosen. As you say he was a ‘genius’ – a word I rarely use with musicians, because of its over use. On the subject of the Rolling Stones et al, could you do a best of Jack Nitzsche? His music for ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ and particuarly ‘Cutter’s Way’ are very good.

  9. Snake
    March 6th, 2024 at 20:48 | #9

    Thanks for Nicky Hopkins. Greatest session man. I hope there’s gonna be sequels.

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