Johnny Nicholas

Johnny Nicholas

Infobox musical artist

| Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist | Instrument = Guitar
Name = Johnny Nicholas
Born = 1948
Died =
Alias = Guitar Johnny
Genre = Blues rock
Associated_acts =
Label = Top Cat Records
Notable_instruments =
Years_active = 1958 - 1981
1991 - present
URL = [ Hill Top]

"Johnny Nicholas" (b. 1948) is a blues musician. He was most noted for as being a member of the Grammy Award winning group Austin, Texas based Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel.


Nicholas grew up in Rhode Island, where he formed his first band, The Vikings. The band performed cover songs of popular rhythm and blues hits of the time, along with songs by the Rolling Stones. In the mid-1960s, he formed the Black Cat Blues Band with Duke Robillard, Fran Christina and Steve Nardella. Around 1970, he formed the Boogie Brothers with Nardella. After attending the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970, the band eventually moved on to San Francisco, California in 1972 pre-request of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.

By 1974, Nicholas had moved to Chicago, Illinois and began playing with Big Walter Horton. During his time in Chicago, he would record music with Walter, Boogie Woogie Red and Robert Lockwood, Jr. In 1974, he created his own single, "Too Many Bad Habits" for Blind Pig Records. Moving back to Providence, Rhode Island, he formed his own band, Johnny Nicholas and the Rhythm Rockers, which included Kaz Kazanoff on saxophone, Terry Bingham on drums, Sarah Brown on bass guitar and Ronnie Earle on electric guitar.

Nicholas began his stint with Asleep at the Wheel in 1978, when the band asked him to perform with them. During his off time, he would travel to various cities for solo shows, but would often visit Louisiana to play with Link Davis and Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire.

By 1980, however, Nicholas decided to take time off from music in order to raise a family. He was also noted as being fed up with the scene, stating "the whole thing got so reversed it became a parody of blues." Between 1981 and 1990, Nicholas and his new wife Brenda owned and managed a roadside restaurant (formally a gas station) called the Hill Top Café near Fredericksburg, Texas. After fathering three boys, Nicholas returned to recording blues music with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor on the album "Back to the Country" in 1991. Since then, he has released one studio album and three live albums on Topcat Records while also returning to regular live shows.


*1978 "Too Many Bad Habits" - Blind Pig
*1988 "Broke Again" - Hill Tip Records
*1994 "Thrill on the Hill" - Antone's
*2001 "Rockin' My Blues to Sleep" - Topcat
*2005 "Livin' with the Blues" - Topcat
*2006 "" - TopCat


* [ Johnny's Official site]
* [ Illustrated discography of Nicholas]

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