|Birth name||Cecil Thomas|
|Also known as||Mr Nigel, Cecil Thomas|
|Born||30 May 1949|
|Died||1990 (aged 41)
|Years active||1969–late 1980s|
|Labels||Trojan, Horse, JoGibb, Bullet|
Nicky Thomas was born Fruitful Vale, Portland, Jamaica. He began work as a labourer in Kingston where he worked alongside future members of the The Gladiators. His opportunity to cuts some records came when former Jiving Junior and producer Derrick Harriott wrote and produced Run Mr Nigel Run for Thomas. A huge Jamaican hit the song led to him being known as Mr Nigel for a time. He was also successful with Come Home a song from the same session
This was followed by a successful association with producer Joel Gibson better known as Joe Gibbs for whom Thomas recorded the plaintive Running Alone and Lonesome Road issued as by Cecil Thomas, as well as a version of Let It Be credited to Nicky Thomas. Thomas' collaboration with Gibbs resulted in a number of hits including Don't Touch Me, Mama's Song and God Bless The Children. Thomas and Gibbs also covered a number of well regarded R&B hits that included Tyrone Davis' Turn Back The Hands of Time and (Baby) Can I Change Your Mind and Tony Joe White's Rainy Night in Georgia. He topped the Jamaican charts in 1970 with Have A Little Faith, a record that reputedly sold 50,000 copies on its release in the UK. It failed to chart in the UK because the sales were largely through specialist music shops and not statistically counted by the official chart compilers.
In mid-1970 Nicky Thomas' interpretation of the Winstons version of "Love of the Common People" resulted in a huge UK hit. The record reached number nine on the pop chart, leading in turn to a European tour and a relocation to the United Kingdom. The original Jamaican mix (without additional strings)issued on early copies as by Cecil Thomas sold a staggering 50,000 copies in Jamaica and 175,000 in the UK. The success of "Love of the Common People" ensured an album of the same name released on Trojan records that featured tracks previously cut with Joe Gibbs in Jamaica. Thomas followed up with a successful interpretation of Chris Andrews "Yesterday Man" from his self produced album Tell It Like It Is recorded in London in 1971. The title track of his album was also released as a single, the latter with a stinging attack on the BBC on the flip-side. Thomas objected to the low profile the state broadcaster was giving to reggae and in an interview with Carl Gayle vented his frustration comparing the playing of reggae on radio as akin to the use of a whore
By 1973 Thomas was being produced by Dandy Livingstone releasing a third album called Images of You that including a version of his former Jamaican hit "Have a Little Faith" and the Gibbs-written club hit "Doing The Moonwalk". In 1973 he supported Desmond Dekker on a short London tour and in 1974 backed by Misty in Roots he successfully toured the UK. In 1976 he released the poignant "London", a song about the desperation of an immigrant's life in London and featured in an ITV television documentary recording What Love Is at studios in North London.
Thomas style of pop-reggae had become less popular by the late 70s and by the early 80s he was recording in a roots reggae style. In 1980 he recorded Trow Mi Corn-No Portion of Gal for Joe Gibbs US distributed JGM records.
In 1983 the singer Paul Young took "Love of the Common People" back into the UK charts reviving interest in Thomas's version of the song that in turn resulted in Trojan reissuing it as a 12" single that included an extended remix version.
- Love of the Common People (1970) Trojan
- Tell It Like It Is (1971) Trojan
- Images of You (1973) Trojan
- Doing The Moon Walk (1991) Trojan (compilation)
- Love of the Common People (2003) Trojan (compilation)
- Leggett, Steve "Nicky Thomas Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation, retrieved 6 December 2009
- Carl Gayle, If The BBC Played My Records I'd Be A Superstar, Black Music magazine (1974)
- Michael de Koningh & Laurence Cane-Honeysett, Young, Gifted And Black, The Story of Trojan Records, Sanctuary Publishing , 2003 UK, ISBN 1-86074-464-8
- Moskowitz, David V. (2006) Caribbean Popular Music: an Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-33158-8, p. 292
- Nicky Thomas at Chart Stats.
- Nicky Thomas at Roots Archives