Nichols, Red

Alternative names
Birth 1905-05-08
Death 1965-06-28

Biographical notes:

Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols (1905-1965) had a long and productive career as a cornetist, bandleader and recording artist. He was born on May 8, 1905, in Ogden, Utah. He studied music with his father (a professor of music at Weber College) and was performing solo cornet by the age of six. By 1922, he was performing professionally with the Syncopating Five, and soon thereafter established a reputation as a studio musician in New York City.

By 1926 Nichols and the small band for which he is most well-known, The Five Pennies, began to record prolifically for Brunswick records under pseudonyms such as The California Redheads, The Charleston Chasers, The Arkansas Travelers and Red and Miff's Stompers.

Throughout the 1930s Nichols was a popular bandleader and also directed many Broadway musicals. In the latter part of the decade he performed frequently on network radio as a big band leader and conducted the radio orchestras of Bob Hope and Ruth Etting. In 1942 Nichols retired for a short time, working in a factory and helping care for his daughter who suffered from polio. By 1945 he had moved to Los Angeles and re-signed with Capitol Records. From then until 1959 he continued working as a bandleader - recording, touring, and performing on radio and television.

With the release of the Paramount movie, "The Five Pennies," which was based roughly on his life story, his popularity rose again, and in 1960 and 1964 he and his group toured Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. Nichols performed up until his death on June 28, 1965 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nichols is known to have been most inspired in his early years by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band and later by Bix Biederbecke. In turn, his group had quite an influence in the late twenties on many of the jazz greats who succeeded him in the swing era: Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and Glen Miller, to name only a few. Among the other notables with whom Nichols performed are band leaders Paul Whiteman, Sam Lanin, and Gene Golkette; instrumentalists Miff Mole (also a lifelong friend), Artie Shaw, Jack Teagarden, Joe Venuti, and Eddie Lange; as well as singers Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, and the Andrews Sisters.

From the guide to the Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols papers, 1926-1965, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Swing (music)
  • Trumpet and piano music--Parts
  • Composers--United States
  • Music
  • Conductors (Music)--United States
  • Jazz--1921-1930--Lead sheets
  • Music--Manuscripts--United States
  • Jazz musicians--United States
  • Jazz
  • Popular music--United States


not available for this record


not available for this record