Jimmy Nicol: The Forgotten Beatles Drummer of 1964

Few people remember that there was another member of The Beatles in 1964, albeit a brief member who is not even a footnote in history it seems.

Jimmy Nicol was born in 1939, and was both a session drummer and a drummer in cover bands of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. His life would be turned upside down when Ringo was hospitalized for complications resulting from tonsillitis on June 3, 1964, on the eve of The Beatles’ tour of Australia and Asia.

The band had to make the tour and needed a drummer. Beatles manager Brian Epstein called Nicol to attend a run through at Abbey Road Studios and then was told to pack his bags as the band was leaving that very same day. Nicols knew most of The Beatles’ catalog from his work on cover albums.

The first show was actually in Copenhagen, Denmark and marked the first time ever of the unique line-up of “John, Paul, George and Jimmy”. The new drummer was forced to wear Ringo’s clothes on stage. Jimmy Nicol would play a total of ten shows with the Fab Four, when Ringo re-joined the band in Melbourne on June 14.

Ironically, during his stint with The Beatles, John and Paul would continually question him on how he was getting along. Nicol’s standard answer was always “It’s getting better all the time”. Of course, that line would later prove the catalyst for the classic song “Getting Better” off the Sgt. Pepper album.

Nearly 25 years ago, Sh-Boom magazine printed an interview with Nicol. The interviewer said to him, “You’re the only one who hasn’t written a book.”

Jimmy Nicol replied,”Oh, after the money ran low, I thought of cashing in some way or the other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on the Beatles toes. They had been so damn good to me.”

Jimmy Nicol lived in Mexico and at least one other Latin American country where he was an entrepreneur in the manufacturing trade. Some years ago rumors circulated that the forgotten Beatle drummer had died, but a British newspaper report in 2005 confirmed that he was alive and living in London as a complete recluse.

Here is a video clip of the boys in concert with Jimmy Nicol in Amsterdam…..

Here is a clip of their press conference in Sydney, Australia with their new drummer…………

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