Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Nicol?

3 04 2016

Jimmie couldn’t believe his ears and what they were hearing. Perhaps he hadn’t totally Jimmie Nicole (2)woken from the nap he was taking when the phone rang. Was this a joke, one of his friends pranking him? Did the person on the other end of the line dial his number instead of the party he was trying to reach? No, it was no joke being played or a wrong number; and he was completely awake as he heard the voice on the phone. This was incredible!

Jimmie Nicol had made quite a name for himself in the London area as a drummer. He had done a lot of studio session work playing on other people’s LPs, and had performed with several up and coming bands touring with at least two. He had grown accustomed to the phone ringing with someone looking for a drummer for this project or that concert; but nothing could have prepared him for what he was now being asked to do. The caller was none other than George Martin producer of the biggest band not only in England but on the planet. His words made Jimmie go completely numb for a few minutes; “Jimmie, how would you like to travel and be the drummer for the Beatles?” It was the summer of 1964 and Ringo Starr had collapsed with tonsillitis and was hospitalized.

The band was preparing for a big tour and Martin persuaded the remaining Beatles to use a backup drummer until Ringo was well again. Just over a day later Jimmie was behind the drum set, wearing one of Ringo’s suits and playing his first concert in Copenhagen, Denmark as a Beatle. For nearly the next two weeks he would earn more money than he ever had in his life, have more girls want to touch him, and take in more notoriety and fame than he ever could have imagined beyond his wildest dreams. This was so awesome, up to that moment and except for the music scene in London, Jimmie was a complete unknown. Now he was playing to sold-out arenas, signing autographs, doing interviews and running for his life from a multitude dreamy eyed, love struck teenage girls. Life couldn’t get any better for a young man with hopes and dreams of musical stardom; that is until 13 days into the concert tour. The band’s manager Brian Epstein informed Jimmie that Ringo had recovered and would be rejoining the band the next day.

After 8 shows Jimmie found himself alone, early morning at the Melbourne, Australia Airport waiting for a flight to take him back to London. He wasn’t able to tell the other three Beatles goodbye because of the early hour. Looking around his surroundings, hardly another person was present, and the ones who were paid little attention to the young man sitting all alone, the feelings of obscurity flooded him.  Returning to London he tried to use his 15 minutes of fame to build a music career with his own band, unfortunately no one gave notice to a short time Beatle. There were a couple of other fleeting moments where he sat in with the likes of the Dave Clark 5, but nothing permanent or even close to what he experienced as a Beatle. By the late 60s Nicol was totally out of the music industry saying in several interviews “Standing in for Ringo was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

I once heard a quote that went like this; “When you’re dreaming with a broken heart the waking up is the hardest part.”

In a sense I relate very well to Jimmie Nicol as I’m sure many others do also. Not to the same level of course; this man was given opportunity to play with the greatest Rock band in history, and then it was over. But so many of us like Jimmie have experienced disappointment from what we thought our life was going to be to the reality of where we end up instead. Our visions of grandeur and honor are harshly replaced with the cold reality of just a simple ordinary life.

But one day my question became “So what’s wrong with that?!!” Yes like Jimmie Nicol, I had my hopes and dreams. Just because they didn’t pan out, does that really make me a loser? Is it so wrong to just have a normal life without the fanfare? I’ve come to recognize that a man made dream can often become a nightmare anyway. Let’s say I accomplished what I thought should be my goal in life; would I have what I have now? The wife of 42 years that I adore, the children and grandchildren who bless me so fully, the little house that we built and made a home, the trade I found myself in all these years, or even the opportunity to interact with you good folks? I think it’s a safe bet I wouldn’t have any of it and that, dear friends and family, I’ve learned is more important than fame and fortune. Of course I’ve had a great teacher that has taught me things like this;

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

When I weigh all that; I’d say I’ve gained more than I lost, wouldn’t you?

As for our “Traveler of the Rock Road,” well I don’t know; but I always hope that others made the same discovery I did. I do know that Jimmy seemed to vanish for nearly 4 decades and it was even believed he passed away. But to the contrary he’s done quite well in the home renovation business and has a son that is an award winning sound engineer. He may have a legacy of being what the media has called the “Forgotten Beatle,” but still sounds like a winner to me!

See ya next time.




2 responses

4 04 2016

Very interesting story full of meaning and history !

9 04 2016
Beverly Crane

The Beatles were always my favorite. I don’t think I remember Ringo being replaced for a few weeks but then some of my childhood memories are a blur. I think the people that have God in their lives comes out of situations like these much stronger and their eyes are open to God’s plan for them. And of course they embrace whatever God has in store for their future. Some of your articles open my eyes John. It is clear to see why God has placed you where you are today. Thank you God for John and leading him to write the “Traveler of the Rock Road”.
Your Avid Reader From Montana

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