Yet another spin off from The Beatles story. There must be a million of 'em! And look who's producing this one!!
Jimmie Nicol is something of a footnote in Beatles history. The drummer replaced an ailing Ringo Starr for 13 days during the group's 1964 tour and was not heard from since. Now his story will be told in "The Beatle Who Vanished," a film adaptation of the book by Jim Berkenstadt that's being produced by Roy Orbison's son Alex Orbison and George Hamilton's son Ashley Hamilton.
Nicol, a London native who's now 77, took the stool for 10 concerts starting June 4, 1964 while Starr was hospitalized with tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Nicol also appeared on a TV show in Holland and was part of Beatles press conferences. He finished his run in Adelaide, Australia and was paid about $600 and given a watch before being sent home.
He went on to play drums for Peter and Gordon and the Spotnicks but dropped out of sight after leaving the music business in 1967. (Nicols' son, Howard, is a BAFTA Award-winning sound engineer.) Nicol was rumored to have died in 1988, but that was quickly disproved.
Alex Orbison tells Billboard that the film will chronicle "the arc of Jimmie Nicol as a person and the overall ride of his intersection with that historic high point of what seemed to be the beginnings of Beatlemania. Jimmie Nicol was invited behind the curtain and was a legit Beatle able to do interviews and get all the perks and just be in, and then to be dropped off back at the airport. The second half of the story turns into a mystery. It seemed to have such mass appeal."
There's no word yet on a production schedule for the film or when it will be released.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.