Nick Lucas

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Nick Lucas
Nick Lucas Billboard.jpg
Background information
Birth name Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucanese
Also known as "The Crooning Troubadour", "The Grandfather of the Jazz Guitar"
Born (1897-08-22)August 22, 1897
Newark, New Jersey United States
Died July 28, 1982(1982-07-28) (aged 84)
Colorado Springs, Colorado United States
Genres Jazz, Traditional pop
Occupation(s) Musician, Bandleader
Instruments Upright bass, trombone, tuba, violin, guitar
Years active 1910–1966
Labels Brunswick, Pathé Records, Durium Records, Cavalier Records,
Associated acts Duke Ellington, Jimmie Noone, Wilber Sweatman, Spirits of Rhythm
Notable instruments
"Nick Lucas Special"

Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucanese (August 22, 1897 – July 28, 1982) was known as "the grandfather of the jazz guitar".[citation needed]


Lucas was born in Newark, New Jersey, from Italian ancestors. In 1922, at the age of 25, he gained renown with his hit renditions of "Picking the Guitar" and "Teasing the Frets" for Pathé Records. In 1923, Gibson Guitars proposed to build him a concert guitar with an extra deep body. Known as the "Nick Lucas Special," it has been a popular model with guitarists since. In the same year, he began a successful career in recording phonograph records for Brunswick and remained one of their exclusive artists until 1932.

By the late 1920s, Lucas had become well known as "The Crooning Troubadour" due to the success of the recordings he made for Brunswick Records. In 1929, he co-starred in the Warner Brothers Technicolor musical, Gold Diggers of Broadway, in which he introduced the two hit songs "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine" and "Tiptoe Through the Tulips". The latter became Lucas' official theme song. The same year, Lucas was also featured in the studio's all-star revue, The Show of Shows. Lucas turned down Warner Bros.' seven-year contract offer, which went instead to fellow crooner Dick Powell.

In April 1930, Warner Bros. bought Brunswick Records. Due to their appreciation of Nick Lucas, Warner Bros. provided him with his own orchestra which was billed on his records as "The Crooning Troubadours". This arrangement lasted until December 1931, when Warner Bros. licensed Brunswick to the American Record Corporation. The new owners were not as extravagant as Warner Bros. had previously been and Lucas lost his orchestra and eventually left Brunswick in 1932 to go freelance. He made two recordings for Durium Records in 1932 for their Hit of the Week series. These would prove to be his last major recordings.

Nick Lucas spent the rest of his career performing on radio as well as in night clubs and dance halls. He made a number of recordings for various small or independent labels, including Cavalier Records, where he was billed as the "Cavalier Troubadour." In 1944 he reprised some of his old hits in Soundies movie musicals, and filmed another group of songs for Snader Telescriptions in 1951. He signed to Accent Records in 1955 and stayed with the label for twenty-five years.[1] In 1974, his renditions of the songs, "I'm Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston", "When You and I Were Seventeen" and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" were featured on the soundtrack of Paramount Pictures' The Great Gatsby (1974) with Robert Redford.

An inspiration to Tiny Tim, who made Lucas' "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" (written November 1929) his own theme song, Lucas became friends with the performer, and on December 17, 1969, when Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Lucas was there to sing their trademark song.

Nick Lucas died in Colorado Springs, Colorado of double pneumonia, three weeks before his 85th birthday.


  1. ^ Pitts, Michael; Hoffmann, Frank; Carty, Dick; Bedoian, Jim (2001). The Rise of the Crooners: Gene Austin, Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby, Nick Lucas, Johnny Marvin and Rudy Vallee. Scarecrow Press. p. 155. ISBN 9781461707127. 
  • "I'm Tired of Everything But You" Brunswick 2940-A
  • "I Might Have known" Brunswick 2940-B

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