RIP Keith Nichols (1945-2021)

Richard Pite writes:

Keith Nichols. Picture courtesy of Richard Pite

Very sad news. Keith Nichols passed away this morning. Keith had gone into London Hospital last Friday with problems relating to a much-delayed prostate operation. Whilst in hospital he fell ill with Covid. His wife Eve asked me to let everyone know.

Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.


Keith was a marvellous pianist, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and authority on vintage jazz. He was a delightfully funny presenter and mixed scholarship and wit in a singularly entertaining way. He’ll be sorely missed.

Keith Nichols. Born Ilford 13 February 1945. Died London 20 January 2021(*)

LINKS: Biography from Keith Nichols’ website

Tribute by Richard Pite

(*) The first version of this article stated that Keith had died on 21 Jan, a day later, and we thank a good friend to this site who has now put us right. 

Categories: News

19 replies »

  1. So sad. A great friend of over 50 years, many fun times both playing and social. Thinking of Eve at this difficult time

    • We are so sorry to hear of Keith’s death. What a terrible thing this pandemic has been. We only knew him briefly when we came to the UK and the Keswick Jazz festival a few years ago, but like everyone else we met there he was gracious, warm and an honor to be able to play with. The UK willl always be a high point of our lives.
      Jim and Carrie Mazzy

  2. On behalf of everyone at Swanage Jazz Festival I send our condolences to Keith’s wife and family. We loved Keith and his fabulous music. He will be sorely missed. Andrew Cannon for SJF.

    • This is such sad news. Keith plus the Blue Devils Orchestra were such a highlight at Swanage over the years, always a great show with great humour, music and expert background to the selections. He will be sorely missed – RIP.

  3. Keith was not only an accomplished musician but an inspiration to other musicians. He was a true friend to the music of New Orleans and to the Mike Durham Classic Jazz party.
    Over in the Gloryland, Sing on, maestro.

    • What a shock. I’ve known Keith since 1961 when we worked at Chappells. Always in touch with spoof emails in milligan type humour. He really was an authority on new Orleans and ragtime while I worked with bands. So sad and all my sympathy to Eve.

  4. Keith was a brilliant musician, arranger, band leader and a very funny and lovely man. I first met him when I booked him for Swanage Jazz Festival in 2000. I loved the music and booked him again for the next 17 years. He was the great favourite in Marquee 1 for the next eighteen years, delighting audiences with the fantastic Blue Devils. He’ll be greatly missed by everyone who loves the music.

  5. Thanks, Keith, for over 50 years of brilliant jazz and humour, including the Waterman’s Arms and my recent birthday “cabaret”. So many memories of a supremely talented musician and a very dear friend. My thoughts are with Eve and his family.

  6. We have lost not only a brilliant musician and music arranger, but a genius at imparting his amazing knowledge of vintage classic jazz with humour and expertise. What a raconteur! Also a wonderful mentor to young talent, keeping this wonderful style of jazz alive. Keith attracted the best of global talent , so loved and respected, for his dedication and hard work. As a mere punter, I feel privileged to have been a fan and a friend. I send my love to Eve and his beloved dogs, and up there, to you Keith. You were a ‘ one off’ x

  7. I first met Keith at the Watermans Alms Pub in the Isle of dogs when in his eary early years he was involved/Played with the Levity Lancers.
    He was the first guy to play the trumphone with his toes.

    He was such a very talented guy and to hear of his passing means to a lot of us fellow jazz people

  8. I was deeply saddened by this tragic news. It has been a honour to know Keith over so many years.
    I first heard him at the Prince of Orange in the early 1970’s with his Paramount Theatre Quartet with Mac White and Graham Reed. His performances were spectacular and his introductions to each number amusing and always well informed and historically accurate. I was pleased on a few occasions to be able to help him out with the use of my Technics digital piano when we happened to be working at the same venue. His knowledge and musical talent to capture the heart and soul of our kind of music was enormous and the jazz world is much poorer place now he is no longer with us. My sympathy goes to Eve and I hope that when this pandemic is behind us we will be able give him a full and proper memorial event.

  9. The best of my memories takes me back over the years but I keep returning to the days of the Levity Lancers. How lucky I was to be the frontman of such a superb group of excellent musicians and particularly Keith who was the backbone of the band.
    Over the last two years we were again in contact, reminiscing with humour over those wonderful times. Great memories indeed. R.I.P. Keith.
    Roger Mitchell.

  10. I could not hear enough of his wonderful musical ability piano and trombone a degree in both. Piano accordian champion uk 2years running . .To please a member of the audience he played a model he had never seen before keith could also play all lhe saxaphones in any key .he played at the Carneige Hall in New York twice He played classical music at home Nobody ever out played him He was an excellemt teacher and arranger He wrote a lovely atmospheric peice called clear Blue. I would have given him ayear of my life to hear more of his playing

  11. Very sad news. Such a ‘busy’ man in the jazz world, his enthusiasm for and knowledge of vintage music was second to none. I had the pleasure of enjoying Keith’s performance(s) at the Pershore Festival in 2019. RIP.

  12. I have just heard this sad news. I knew Keith from when I was 15 years of age. No kinder, gentler, generous, or talented man ever existed. A huge loss to the industry and to his wonderful wife Eve. Much love, RIP.

Leave a Reply