In June 1964, the Beatles were to tour Scandanavia, Holland, the Far
East and Australia. On June 3, the day before the tour, Ringo collapsed
at an early morning photo session for the Saturday Evening Post
at a portrait studio in Barnes, London. He had a 102-degree fever and
tonsilitis and was rushed to the hospital.
While having his tonsils out in London, he was temporarily replaced
for the Denmark and Holland concert dates by shy 24-year-old session
drummer Jimmy Nicol. Beatles producer George Martin suggested Jimmy
because he had recently recorded at EMI with Tommy Quickly and he'd also
recently become familiar with Beatles numbers while drumming on a
recording session for an album called Beatlemania.
Jimmy Nicol started his career as a drum repairer for Boosey & Hawkes.
He was briefly a member of the Swedish group, the Spotnicks,
then Georgie Fame's Blue Flames, and then formed his own band,
At first, George Harrison didn't want Ringo to be replaced and
refused to go on the tour without him, but Brian and George Martin
convinced him. Paul thought he was okay for the tour, but that the fans
would definately know the difference if he recorded with them. And Brian
thought it was a good choice because he thought he "looked like a Beatle
and not an outcast".
During the tour, every time one of the Beatles asked Jimmy how he was
getting on, if he was liking it and was he managing okay, all he ever
replied was "It's Getting Better". The others used to make fun of this,
and later in 1967, it inspired Paul to do a song called It's Getting
Better on the Sgt. Pepper's album.
Rare pic of all 5 Beatles
This is a recording of a live Beatles concert in Holland while Jimmy was
with the band. Although this is an extremely poor Beatles recording,
it's a great example of Jimmy's playing, as that's what's foremost in
the recording, obviously made by someone with a tape recorder in the
Ringo was discharged from the hospital on June 11, and he rejoined
the group in Melbourne on June 15, 1964.
For replacing Ringo on the tour, Jimmy received £500 and a gold
Eternamatic watch enscribed: "From the Beatles and Brian Epstein to
Jimmy -- with appreciation and gratitude."
Upon Jimmy's return, his group the Shubdubs issued the single
Husky/Don't Come Back, but it failed to chart. Pictured below is
another of their rare singles, Humpty Dumpty/Night Train. The
Shubdubs later disbanded, after which Jimmy moved to South America. He
also lived in Australia for a time.
In Their Own Words
On fitting in with the Beatles, Jimmy said:
"The boys were very kind but I felt like an intruder. They accepted
me but you can't just go into a group like that -- they have their own
atmosphere, their own sense of humor. It's a little clique and
outsiders just can't break in."
About after the Beatles, Jimmy said:
"I had a band and Brian put us on the same bill with the Beatles
and the Formost one night. Backstage, we talked, but the wind had
changed since we last saw each other. They were pleasant."
[The Shubdubs played with the Beatles on July 12, 1964 at the
Hippodrome Theatre in Brighton.]