b. Michael Clifford Nicholls, April 1943, Birmingham, England, d. 15 October 2007. Based in Birmingham, Midlands, England, James had previously led local band the Lawmen, and been a member of Denny Laine’s Diplomats, before embarking on a solo career. Signing to Columbia Records, he then added a suffix to his name to produce the Nicky James Movement. That band made its debut in 1965 with a version of ‘Stagger Lee’. When the single did not sell he moved from Columbia to Philips Records and reverted to solo billing. As such he made his debut in 1967 with ‘So Glad We Made It’. Four further singles, ‘Would You Believe’, ‘Nobody But Me’, ‘Time’ and ‘Reaching For The Sun’, ensued, but it was not until 1971 that James made his self-titled album debut. By now he had perfected a vocal technique that melded the blues with prevalent beat pop tendencies, although he found it difficult to make a commercial breakthrough.
In 1972 James switched to Threshold Records, a label established by the Moody Blues, who were clearly a major influence on him. Two more albums followed alongside four further singles, which increasingly moved towards blues rock. The last of these, ‘Maggie’, was released in 1976, by which time he had also appeared on solo albums by Moody Blues members Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas. With the advent of punk, however, James’ career declined and ‘Maggie’ proved to be his final recording. He remained a presence on his local club scene and was planning a comeback shortly before his death in 2007.