Roy Nichols

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Roy Nichols made his way to Bakersfield from Fresno in the days when Bakersfield was just starting to boom. Distinctive in his style throughout his career, he made a name for himself through supporting…
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Roy Nichols made his way to Bakersfield from Fresno in the days when Bakersfield was just starting to boom. Distinctive in his style throughout his career, he made a name for himself through supporting Lefty Frizzell, Wynn Stewart and Merle Haggard. Born in 1932 to parents who owned a migrant farm-worker camp in Fresno, the youngster spent his early years running free on the acreage that held the camp. Growing up, Nichols first got interested in music after spending many nights sitting outside the gypsy camp that set up at the back end of his parent's property. Night after night the boy would sit in the dark shadows beyond the fire light and listen to the gypsys play music and sing. This experience struck a chord and led him to pick up a guitar.

Leaving Fresno in search of gigs, Nichols landed right in the middle of a revolution. Teeming with life and plenty of talent, the San Joaquin Valley town attracted quality players from all across the west. Working the circuit and playing on recording sessions kept Nichols busy. After joining up with Merle Haggard, he proceeded to perfect his licks and became so proficient that it was not uncommon for future pickers to sit around listening to Haggard cuts and picking out Roy's distinctive riffs.An inspiration to the next generation, Nichols made a significant contribution to the careers of Scott Joss, Larry Dean and other California country and western artists. Although a stroke left him weakened and unable to play, he still supported the music and the many he mentored. Nicols passed away on July 3, 2001 from a heart attack after being admitted to the hospital a few days earlier with kidney inflammation. He remains an important element to the Bakersfield Sound and one of the founding fathers of the West Coast sound.