Big Nick Nicholas

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Big Nick Nicholas
Big Nick Nicholas.jpg
Big Nick Nicholas at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, California, September 8, 1981
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Walker Nicholas
Born(1922-08-02)August 2, 1922
Lansing, Michigan
OriginQueens, New York, U.S.
DiedOctober 29, 1997(1997-10-29) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
Years active1940–1997
LabelsIndia Navigation

George Walker "Big Nick" Nicholas (August 2, 1922, – October 29, 1997) was an American jazz saxophonist and singer.[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 on to play with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, and Charlie Mingus.[3]

Nicholas died of heart failure in October 1997 at the age of 75.[3]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  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
  4. ^ "Big Nick Nicholas | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 January 2017.