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'Blockbuster Songs - Unforgettable Jingles' - "We've Only Just Begun" - Roger Nichols & Ted Nichols - Musicians, Composers, Songwriters - "Rainy Days and Mondays"

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Ted and Roger Nichols – Musicians, Composers, Songwriters

The two Nichols brothers were both born in Missoula, the children of Nicholas and Josephine Sflotsos. Their father was a “first generation Greek immigrant.”  Ted was born in 1928 and graduated from high school in Spokane.

Although Roger was born in Missoula in 1940, their family moved to Spokane within a year. Both of these brothers pursued careers in music and have left their mark in the world of music composition.

Oldest brother Theodore (Ted) worked in Hollywood for Hanna-Barbera Productions for approximately 10 years beginning in 1962. He stated that his original name was Theodore Nicholas Sflotsos. “My dad was Greek. When I decided to do things in Hollywood I changed it to Ted Nichols. It was much simpler.”[1]

Ted is credited with writing music for many productions including episodes of Johnny Quest, The Herculoids, The Fantastic Four, Josie and the Pussycats, Scooby-Doo, Space Ghost, Young Sampson, and Shazzan. He also wrote original theme for The New Adventures of Huck Finn and The Man Called Flintstone.

He is also the composer of several operas, the themes of which sometimes reflect his religious affiliation.

Below is an article about Ted from the Williams News newspaper from Williams, Arizona, written by reporter Marissa Freireich:

 

 

August 3, 2016


Composer Ted Nichols, known for his Scooby Doo and Flintstones scores, continues his varied musical career from his home in Williams

Ted Nichols plays a selection from a recent composition at his home in Williams, Ariz. Nichols will direct several Williams church choirs in a patriotic concert May 25 at the Babbitt Polson Warehouse Stage. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Ted Nichols plays a selection from a recent composition at his home in Williams, Ariz. Nichols will direct several Williams church choirs in a patriotic concert May 25 at the Babbitt Polson Warehouse Stage. Ryan Williams/WGCN

http://www.williamsnews.com/images/cleardot.gif

http://www.williamsnews.com/SiteImages/Byline/M_11.jpg

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter



Most people have heard Ted Nichols' music without realizing it. As the musical director for Hanna-Barbera, Nichols composed musical cues and arrangements for shows like Scooby Doo and the Flintstones.

After writing music for numerous television shows, movies and operas, Nichols has brought his musical expertise to Williams.

Nichols will direct several local church choirs in a free Memorial Day Weekend concert called "Celebrate America." The concert is from 3 to 4 p.m. May 25 at the Babbitt Polson Warehouse Stage near the Williams Visitors Center. Organizers encourage concert-goers to bring lawn chairs.

Nichols first got involved with music in the fifth grade when he started singing in the All City Boys Choir in Spokane, Wash. He started playing the violin at age 10. 

While playing violin in high school, he worked his way up from the last chair in his orchestra class to student director of the orchestra and choir.

"Then it really started my career I think at that time," Nichols said. "But I always had a real urge to compose and write."

After graduating high school, Nichols joined the Navy and started a dance band while stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas.

After his time in the Navy, Nichols attended Baylor University. Nichols played violin, clarinet and saxophone, but since he did not play the piano, the school did not allow him to major in composition. He earned a music teaching degree instead.

When the Korean War started, Nichols joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. During this time, he founded the Air Force Bandsmen Training School.

After that, Nichols returned to Texas where he taught junior high and high school music and started the Corpus Christi Youth Symphony.

After earning a master's degree in composition from Texas Arts and Industries University, Nichols moved to California to pursue a career in composing.

In California, Nichols went from teaching high school to working as the band director of Santa Ana College to starting the marching band at California State University, Los Angeles.

During this time Nichols wrote music for his first film, "Tournament of Roses."

Nichols also spent time in the Dapper Dans quartet at Disneyland, where he met Walt Disney.

"The funny thing was, Uncle Walt as we called him, used to come there to Disneyland, and he'd sneak in and go over to the coffee place and sneak in the back," Nichols said. "I'd just go over, sit with him, and have coffee."

While working as the minister of music at Church of the Open Door, Nichols met an animator from Hanna-Barbera, who began singing in the choir. 

"He liked what I did. And I kidded him one time, I said, 'well why don't you introduce me to your boss?' The next week, I get a call from Bill Hanna," Nichols said.

He began by writing musical cues and arrangements for the television show "Jonny Quest." Since members of the company liked his work, they asked him to write for a Flintstones Christmas show in the fall.

"I said, 'well twist my arm a little bit,'" he said.

By the spring, the company hired Nichols as its musical director. He worked in this position from 1963 to 1972. 

"Man, oh man, I wrote like crazy," he said.

Writing musical cues was more complicated in those days, Nichols said.

"I used to take the score and sit down with my music editors and we'd count the frames and we'd say well here I got to hit Flintstone here or here he's climbing up this," he said.

Nichols would meet with the writers of the different shows before writing the music.

"I looked at a lot of drawings about Scooby Doo before I even wrote, because I try to get the feeling in my mind - hey this is the kind of style that you want to write for," he said.

In addition to his cartoon writing, Nichols has composed five operas.

Nichols resigned from Hanna-Barbera and began working as the international music director for Campus Crusade for Christ. He also started the master of church music program at the Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Ore.

In October, Nichols and his wife Catherine came to Williams "to establish a life of our own away from both of our kids."

Besides directing the Memorial Day weekend concert, these days Nichols is busy composing orchestral arrangements for a friend in Russia. He uses a piano and a computer program to write the music.

"I hear it in my mind first, and then I just check the piano to say 'is this the chords?'"

With a couple of projects in the works, Nichols' decades-long career isn't over just yet.

"I want to keep my skills going," he said.

Commentary and a short interview with Ted Nichols can be found in the book ‘The Best Saturdays of Our Lives’ by Mark McCray. A link to excerpts from this book is below:

https://books.google.com/books?id=YizfCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT99&lpg=PT99&dq=an+interview+with+ted+nichols&source=bl&ots=1VX0KSLteK&sig=5xwnK1SXIARC7YN0t7cRJqlsmV4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjv6t-DkajOAhUW32MKHRh-D-0Q6AEILDAC#v=onepage&q=an%20interview%20with%20ted%20nichols&f=false

A biography of Ted Nichols appears on Wikipedia at the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Nichols

Roger Stewart Nichols was born in Missoula in 1940.

Below is a short biography for Roger Nichols that appears on the website Allmusic.com.

Artist Biography by Ed Hogan

Born in Missoula, MT, Roger Nichols and his parents moved to Santa Monica, CA, when he was a one-year-old. His household brimmed with music when he was growing up. His dad was a journalism graduate and a professional photographer who played sax in local jazz bands. His mother was a music major and a classical pianist. When Nichols started grade school, he picked up the violin, continuing his violin and classical studies throughout grammar and high school. His attention turned to basketball and Nichols forsook violin for the hoops but played guitar on the side.

Recruited to U.C.L.A. on a basketball scholarship, Nichols played on the team for a year or two. Confronted to make a choice between music or basketball by his coach John Wooden, Nichols chose music. While in college, he majored in music and cinematography while still playing the guitar and adding the piano. After a brief hiatus, he returned to U.C.L.A. and began taking songwriting courses. After he left college, Nichols took a variety of jobs, working in a bank for two years, a liquor store for a year and a half, and serving six months in the navy. On weekends, he worked in clubs with his group, Roger Nichols and a Small Circle of Friends, that performed original songs written by Nichols.

Around 1965, the group was signed to a recording contract by Liberty Records. While at the label, the group briefly had the opportunity to work with Tommy Li Puma. Li Puma thought the group had some potential, but left Liberty shortly thereafter. With the label for eight months without having a record released, Nichols called A&M Records expressing interest in playing some demos for label co-owner Herb Alpert. He was switched to Li Puma who had been hired as the A&R man for the new label. Li Puma was still enamored of the group. Nichols then asked for and received a release from Liberty Records.

While Nichols waited for Li Puma to finish producing the Sandpipers and Claudine Longet, he wrote an instrumental for Alpert that he promptly recorded a week after hearing it. Though Roger Nichols and a Small Circle of Friends wasn't a big seller, Alpert urged A&M publishing company head Chuck Kaye to sign Nichols as a songwriter to their company.

During his second year with the company, Kaye introduced Nichols to lyricist Paul Williams. The first song that they wrote was recorded by Claudine Longet, "It's Hard to Say Goodbye." The duo wrote together for four years, resulting in lots of album cuts, B-sides, even A-sides, but no hits.

An advertising executive approached a friend of Nichols asking for help with an under-budget commercial project for Crocker Bank. Nichols' friend gave him a copy of the Roger Nichols and a Small Circle of Friends album. The ad exec called A&M and made an appointment with Nichols and Williams to discuss the project. The exec said that he only had 300 dollars to make a demo and the rest of the project had to be done on speculation that the project would pan out and become a successful ad campaign, in which case this would lead to more money. Hoping to capture the youth market by softening the bank's image, Nichols and Williams were given the slogan, "You've got a long way to and go and we'd like to help you get there." They had just ten days to create a song, essentially a jingle. Waiting until the last day, after they've completed other projects, Nichols started noodling around on the piano and wrote the basic verse melody in a half hour. Williams joined him later and come up with some lyric lines. On the demo, Nichols overdubbed piano, bass, and guitar while Williams sang. It was approved by the bank who requested that they complete the song, which at that time included two verses and a bridge.

Crocker Bank had the advertising rights to the song, but the duo, along with A&M, retained the recording and publishing rights.

Richard Carpenter of the Carpenters heard the jingle on a TV commercial, and although signed to A&M, didn't know who wrote the track. He found out and the Carpenters recorded the song. "We've Only Just Begun" was nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year, was included on BMI's million performances list, and received an award for selling a million copies of sheet music. Another Nichols-Williams song, "Out in the Country" by Three Dog Night, landed in the Top Ten. Six months later, "Rainy Days and Mondays" was another gold record by the Carpenters and Nichols' third gold record in a single year. Other hits were the Carpenters' "I Won't Last a Day Without You," "Travelin' Boy," and "I Never Had It So Good," covered by Barbara Streisand.

In 1972, the Nichols-Williams team parted ways. Somewhat disgruntled, Nichols returned to his native Montana, bought a house, and relaxed. A few years later, he returned to composing and primarily background scoring. In later years, Nichols' hits were more associated with the TV shows that he scored like "Love Theme From Hart to Hart."

A Wikipedia biography of Roger Nichols can be found at the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Nichols_(songwriter)

Also, the links below feature Roger Nichols with Murray and Melinda Macleod as they discuss their work on the new album, Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKKa5fSM_Hs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUS8Hm9Vd3U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep3gupgXY_Q

 



[1] Quote from ‘The Best Saturdays of Our Lives’, by Marc McCray (2015).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 August 2016 20:00