Penny Nichols iTunes Tracks Penny Nichols Official Website

Penny Nichols

Born December 26, 1947, Orange County, California, this mainly freelance back-up singer was a 60s folkie, a player who once shared stages with the likes of JACKSON BROWNE, LINDA RONSTADT’s STONE PONEYS, JENNIFER WARNES and Mary McCaslin; Penny also sang with an embryonic NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND via John, Bill and Alice McEuen. In 1966, and with bluegrass going through a tentative revival stage, she was half of the Greasy Mountain Butterballs (alongside Kathy Smith), who performed in Vietnam. Riding into San Francisco (from Hollywood) on the back of a Harley motorbike the following spring, Penny supported such psychedelic luminaries as BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING CO. (w/ JANIS JOPLIN), QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, the STEVE MILLER BAND, CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND, The 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, culminating in a spot at the Big Sur Festival in ’68.
A one-off Buddah Records LP, PENNY’S ARCADE (1968) {*6}, was promoted on both sides of the big pond; while in London she stayed with the HARRISONs (aka GEORGE and Patty). Complemented by top sessioners Bruce Langhorne, Al Gorgoni, Vincent Bell, et al., her singer-songwriter sound sat neatly alongside a chirpy JONI MITCHELL or even LAURA NYRO in places; indeed the set would be hard to pigeonhole, and harder to pin down, although it sold in good numbers. Pleasant, unassuming and wistful, NICHOLS’ psych-to-jazz folk dirges have an appeal all of their own (check out rare single `Look Around Rock’, B-side `Farina’ and `Salton Sea Song’).
The 70s saw her marry Harry Shearer (from ’74-’77), form a jazz band, session for Elektra Records (EMITT RHODES et al) and side-line with JIMMY BUFFET & The Coral Reefers; other periodical and subsequent 80s sing sessions came via ART GARFUNKEL, YVONNE ELLIMAN, SUZI QUATRO, JENNIFER WARNES, STEVE GILLETTE, among many others. A teacher in the Hudson Valley area of New York, the 90s have produced a handful of other self-distributed sets; her most recent (with book) THE 8 VOYAGES OF NEP {*5} positively chronicles her experiences as a cancer patient with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and beyond.
© MC Strong/MCS 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Oct2016

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