Nicky Hopkins may not be a household name to the average music fan around the world. Nonetheless, the man’s brilliant piano playing can be found on so many classic rock and roll recordings that all music fans have heard throughout their lives. Nicky Hopkins has played on countless classic rock recordings released by some of the genres biggest acts. His journey to the rock and roll recording studio began in 1947 when at the age of three he began playing piano. At the age of sixteen Nicky Hopkins dropped out of school and turned pro. Eventually Nicky Hopkins would become on of the most sought out session players during the 1960s and 70’s classic rock era.
Nicky Hopkins career would showcase an incredible run with The Rolling Stones and the recording studio. Nicky Hopkins along with Billy Preston and Ian Stewart would play piano on many of the most famous Rolling Stones songs ever released. Nicky Hopkins would spend eight years with The Rolling Stones in the studio from 1967 to 1975. However, The Rolling Stones were not the only famous band that Nicky Hopkins played for. Throughout his career Nicky Hopkins performed on many songs by The Who, The Kinks and even The Beatles. Nicky Hopkins would also play piano on many tracks recorded by Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, Rod Stewart, Graham Parker, Badfinger, Joe Walsh, New Riders of the Purple Sage and all four Beatles during their solo careers.
Throughout his life, Nicky Hopkins had to deal with certain medical issues that limited his ability to tour with bands. Those medical issues kept him in the studio and away from the rigors of the road. In the late 1960s, Nicky Hopkins did join the Jeff Beck Group and also The Qucksilver Messenger Service band.
Nicky Hopkins medical issues would eventually end his life. Nicky Hopkins died at the young age of 50 years old. The brilliant rock and roll pianist left behind a legacy of classic rock recordings. Those songs have become ingrained in the soundtrack of our own lives. There are so many great Nicky Hopkins performances that we could list here but space has limited us to just choosing 10. We think the ten we have chosen will blow you away.
# 10 – At My Front Door
Harry Nilsson’s “At My Front Door,” was released on the album entitled Son of Schmilsson. The album was released in 1972. Great piano solo by Nicky Hopkins at 1.50
# 9 – Jealous Guy
John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” featured that classic Nicky Hopkins piano intro that set the tone for this incredible song. Now you know what we are talking about. Nicky Hopkins’ piano performance resonated throughout the entire song. Released on the Imagine album in 1971.
# 8 – Wooden Ships
# 7 – You’re Sixteen
Ringo Starr’s “You’re Sixteen,” was released in 1973. Nick Hopkins’ opening piano trills and groove set the pace for another huge hit.
# 6 – The Song Is Over
Are you starting to hear how great Nicky was and how you never knew it was him on all these classic tracks? The piano on this Who song is so iconic, and it’s all Nicky Hopkins.
# 5 – Sunny Afternoon
Straight ahead groove, but oh so classic. This great Kinks song was released in 1966.
# 4 – Give Me Love
# 3 – Revolution
Not many people besides John, Paul, George or Ringo got to perform in the studio with The fab four. Nicky Hopkins did. How could we leave this one out? If there was anyone that had an insight into the most incredible musicians and artist of the 1960s and 1970s it was Nicky Hopkins.
# 2 – Fool To Cry
Nicky Hopkins piano playing on this heartfelt Rolling Stones ballad was so incredibly beautiful we could not help but placing it so close to the top spot on this Nicky Hopkins Classic Recordings list.
# 1 – Street Fighting Man
Nicky Hopkins played on so many great songs, but The Rolling Stone’s “Street Fighting Man,” was his most legendary performance. Nicky Hopkins’ piano playing was the heartbeat of this most loved Rolling Stones song. All the way through, Nicky drove this one all the way home.
Updated Nov 11, 2020