Big Nick Nicholas

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Big Nick Nicholas
Birth name George Walker "Big Nick" Nicholas
Born (1922-08-02)August 2, 1922
Origin Queens, New York City
Died October 29, 1997(1997-10-29) (aged 75)
Occupation(s) jazz saxophonist and vocalist
Instruments Saxophone

George Walker "Big Nick" Nicholas (August 2, 1922, Lansing, Michigan – October 29, 1997, Queens, New York City) was a New York-based American jazz saxophonist and vocalist.[1]

Strongly influenced by his hero, Coleman Hawkins, Nicholas in turn influenced a young John Coltrane to compose his tribute "Big Nick", included on the 1962 album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane.[2]

Nicholas contributed the 16-bar solo to Dizzy Gillespie's classic African-Cuban jazz piece "Manteca" (1947). At that time he also started playing with Hot Lips Page, a working relationship that continued until 1954. He joined Buck Clayton in 1955.

Nicholas started playing with Hank and Thad Jones, Earl Hines and Tiny Bradshaw before going into the army, and on being discharged in the late 1940s he worked with bands led by Sabby Lewis, J. C. Heard, and Lucky Millinder. He went to play with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker and Charlie Mingus.[3]

Nicholas died of heart failure in October 1997, aged 75.[3]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Dizzy Gillespie


  1. ^ Ratliff, Ben (November 16, 1997), "Big Nick Nicholas, 75, Singer And Jazz-Band Saxophonist", The New York Times, Obituaries, retrieved January 5, 2008 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b - accessed November 9, 2011