James "Nick" Nixon (9 October 1941 - 28 February 2018) was an American blues and gospel singer and guitarist.
James "Nick" Nixon was an omnipresent and beloved figure in Nashville's blues and R&B scenes for 50 years, over the course of his career, he worked with everyone from legendary rock 'n' roll guitarist Scotty Moore to gospel group the Fairfield Four.
He grew up singing in church, and while in high school was trained by an opera singer. "The hardest thing I've done was learn not to sing so well, so I could do rock 'n' roll and blues," the velvet-voiced vocalist told The Tennessean newspaper in 2013.
In the 1960s, Nixon was part of Jefferson Street's thriving music scene. There, he was a self-described "running buddy" of Jimi Hendrix and Billy Cox. "When he was here, Jimi didn't think he was appreciated enough," Nixon remembered in 2013. "It wasn't that we didn't appreciate it so much that we didn't understand it."
Nixon was the lead singer of R&B outfit King James and the Sceptres (one of Nashville's first integrated groups), a longtime member of the New Imperials, and the frontman for Past, Present and Future — a band that recorded for Chess Records in the 1970s — and NTS Limited, which included his Jefferson Street pal Cox.
"James 'Nick' Nixon was an integral part of shaping the music on Jefferson Street which makes American music so important," Sharon W. Hurt, the President/CEO of the Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (J.U.M.P), said in a statement. "He played extensively in the clubs along Jefferson Street. We especially appreciated his participation in the Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival for many years, making sure that we ended it with a 'jam.' We were just one of many that he supported and lent his musical talents, every time he was called upon. His legacy is a key reason why J.U.M.P. developed the Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival — to celebrate the rich musical legacy that people like Nick established as part of Music City's fabric. He will truly be missed.”
Nixon also released gospel and blues records under his own name, including "Me, Myself and the Lord" and "No End to the Blues." He appeared in the film "Redemption Road," and his recording of "Rising Sun Blues" was featured on the film's soundtrack.
In recent years, he played with Andy Talamantez. The Andy T-Nick Nixon Band released a handful of records before Nixon left the band in 2016 due to health issues.
One of Nixon's great passions was teaching. He spent 35 years as a music instructor with Metro Parks (he once bragged that he only used three days of sick leave in that time) and was a recipient of the Blues Foundation's Keeping Blues Alive Award for his efforts to educate young people about music.
When he retired from his Metro Parks job in 2004, he told The Tennessean that he planned to spend his days making music and devoting more time to the educational program Blues in the Schools.
"Some people I teach can play, I think, better than me," he told The Tennessean in 2004. "But there's something I've got that they want, and that's the feel, the blues feel. Everybody's got something that you can use."
Back Down South, Buncy Records (2005)
No End To The Blues, Black Magic Records (2001)
Stand Up, T-Jaye Records (1999)
Me, Myself and The Lord, T-Jaye Records (1998)
Male Vocalist of the Year, Music City Blues Society, 2001
Acoustic Blues Act of the Year, Music City Blues Society, 2002,2003,2004
Keeping the Blues Alive Award, Excellence in Blues Education, The Blues Foundation, 2000
The New Imperials
Past, Present and Future
King James and The Sceptres
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