In 1923 Nichols moved to New York and soon teamed up with trombonist Miff Mole. Nichols most famously recorded under the name Red Nichols and His Five Pennies, but the same group of musicians also recorded under many different pseudonyms, including the Louisiana Rhythm Kings, the Charleston Seven, the Arkansas Travelers, Miff Mole and His Molers, the Hottentots, and the Red Heads. These sessions at first featured trombonist Miff Mole with Jimmy Dorsey on alto and clarinet, and later in the decade featured a virtual who's who of great white jazz musicians including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Adrian Rollini and Gene Krupa. Nichols survived the Depression by working in Broadway shows, even leading the pit orchestra for two of George Gershwin's shows; "Girl Crazy" and "Strike Up the Band". In 1934 Red fronted a band for a radio show sponsored by Kellogg's Cereal and led many studio orchestras, including one for the Bob Hope Show.
Around 1940 Nichols took advantage of the swing craze and tried updating his sound. The orchestra soon floundered and Nichols sold the band in 1942. Nichols briefly found work as a member of the Casa Loma Orchestra before retiring to Hollywood, where he led several small groups throughout the rest of the 1940s and into the 1950s. The highly-fictionalized 1959 film, The Five Pennies, starring Danny Kaye, prompted Nichols to put together a new Five Pennies. Nichols died suddenly from a heart attack while on tour in Las Vegas in 1965. Read more on Last.fm.
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