The Nice were formed in 1967 and were Keith Emerson’s first band as a creative leader. Along with guitarist Davy O’List, bassist Lee Jackson and drummer Brian “Blinky” Davison they released a series of superb albums before splitting in 1970 when Emerson left to form ELP.
Despite the huge success of ELP, a number of us feel that the Nice were a more honest band, where music came before spectacle. This site is an attempt to gather together the various strands of The Nice’s history.
There’s also a facebook group devoted to the band, with lots of discussions..
Bryan Parker said on FB:”The Nice were the first band that I saw in concert at the Caird Hall in Dundee, Scotland in 1969. By that time the band was a trio. My enduring memories as a 15 year old are Keith throwing his Hammond organ around, sticking daggers in it and near the end of the show Keith bounded up the orchestra seating and played “I do like to be by the sea side” on the halls organ. The cost of the ticket was nearly a weeks wage from my job delivering milk before I went to school.”
Keyboard supremo & Emo fanatic Tom Szakaly has discovered a recording of part of The ‘Switched On Symphony‘ TV event on March 14th 1970 with Zubin Mehta and the NICE.The group performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta and broadcast on television. The show featured a number of artists jamming together, including Jethro Tull, Jerry Goodman (later of the Mahavishnu Orchestra) and Santana. Some amazing sounds, it would be great to find a decent quality recording or even the film.
One scene in the show has the 104-strong symphony orchestra under Mehta’s baton joining the Nice in a pop-concert version of ‘America’ from West Side Story. There was Mehta and his men in their ‘penguin suits’ and organist Keith Emerson and his group perched precariously in opera-type balconies behind velvet curtains in front. They were a strange combination, the traditional musicians and Emerson — a dazzling figure in a skin-tight silver costume that made him look like a cartoon-strip spaceman.
This show (one of the final few to be played by the band) may well be where Emerson first heard Ginastera’s “Toccata”, later to feature on an ELP album. There are a few lines about the show in this book, although it says ELP played it 😉
I saw The Nice twice.Once in Nottingham in December 1968 at the Newton Building (part of the Polytechnic), then the following year at Leicester De Montfort Hall. The former concert was absolutely BRILLIANT. Was close to the stage and was in awe as Keith E used his organ as a “knife cushion. Gutted when he broke up the group and never bought an ELP single or album in disgust!