Richard Nichols, the longtime manager and mentor to The Roots, died July 17 after a long bout with leukemia. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson penned a glowing tribute to Nichols, trying best to capture his importance to the band’s existence and beyond.
Questlove’s tribute appeared Wednesday afternoon in Vulture, featuring his typically solid storytelling and writing. Questlove’s emotions are evident in the tribute, and the opening paragraph solidifies Nichols’ vital position in the history of The Roots.
How can you make any sense of a life ending? Richard Nichols, who managed the Roots since the beginning, since before the beginning, passed away on July 17 after a long battle with leukemia (CMML). Rich was 55. Our culture calls for certain forms of expression in the wake of an event like this: We’re supposed to compose a declaration of devotion to the departed, offer testimony regarding his lasting importance, make a simple statement of the sadness that has settled over us all. There is no declaration or testimony big enough to fill the life of Rich. But there is a simple statement, and this is it: There is only one Richard Nichols. I know what ya’ll are thinking: “There is only one of each of us.” But it’s truer than true in this case.
Questlove also shares how he came to meet the former radio DJ, who was actually unimpressed by he and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s earlier musical efforts. Questlove reveals how Black Thought’s suggestion that Nichols managed the band was the moment that changed all of their lives.
Read the entire Vulture tribute here.
Photo: Press Here Publicity/Nichols Family