Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols papers , 1926-1965

Overview of the Collection

Nichols, Red
Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols papers
1926-1965 (inclusive)
117 linear feet, (237 containers, 10 volumes, 1 envelope)  :  228 clam shell boxes, 1 oversize box, 2 small boxes, 3 scrapbook volumes, 1 envelope; Photograph boxes: 2 small boxes, 1 oversize folder.
Collection Number
Ax 539
Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols (1905-1965) had a long and productive career as a cornetist, bandleader and recording artist. The collection contains music manuscripts (including original scores), published sheet music, cassette tape, phonograph and reel-to-reel recordings, biographical and personal files, correspondence, scrapbooks, and photographs.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Additional Reference Guides

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Ernest F. Loring "Red" Nichols (1905-1965) had a long and productive career as a cornetist, bandleader and recording artist. He was born on May 8, 1905, in Ogden, Utah. He studied music with his father (a professor of music at Weber College) and was performing solo cornet by the age of six. By 1922, he was performing professionally with the Syncopating Five, and soon thereafter established a reputation as a studio musician in New York City.

By 1926 Nichols and the small band for which he is most well-known, The Five Pennies, began to record prolifically for Brunswick records under pseudonyms such as The California Redheads, The Charleston Chasers, The Arkansas Travelers and Red and Miff's Stompers.

Throughout the 1930s Nichols was a popular bandleader and also directed many Broadway musicals. In the latter part of the decade he performed frequently on network radio as a big band leader and conducted the radio orchestras of Bob Hope and Ruth Etting. In 1942 Nichols retired for a short time, working in a factory and helping care for his daughter who suffered from polio. By 1945 he had moved to Los Angeles and re-signed with Capitol Records. From then until 1959 he continued working as a bandleader - recording, touring, and performing on radio and television.

With the release of the Paramount movie, "The Five Pennies," which was based roughly on his life story, his popularity rose again, and in 1960 and 1964 he and his group toured Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. Nichols performed up until his death on June 28, 1965 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nichols is known to have been most inspired in his early years by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band and later by Bix Biederbecke. In turn, his group had quite an influence in the late twenties on many of the jazz greats who succeeded him in the swing era: Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and Glen Miller, to name only a few. Among the other notables with whom Nichols performed are band leaders Paul Whiteman, Sam Lanin, and Gene Golkette; instrumentalists Miff Mole (also a lifelong friend), Artie Shaw, Jack Teagarden, Joe Venuti, and Eddie Lange; as well as singers Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, and the Andrews Sisters.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains music manuscripts (including original scores), published sheet music, cassette tape, phonograph and reel-to-reel recordings, biographical and personal files, correspondence, published books, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Scores within the two series', Musical Manuscripts and College Songs and Medleys are organized alphabetically by title and include annotations as to Nichol's own index numbers, arranger's name, size of group (small is meant here to mean ten or fewer parts), unusual instrumentation (such as strings or vocals), famous performers, dates, and information as to whether the collection contains score or parts or both.

The indices to music manuscripts section explains the letter/number annotations devised by Nichols.

The series on the film "Five Pennies" includes correspondence, preliminary and final scripts, and publicity.

The World Tour series contains correspondence, schedules, programs, publicity, and clippings. There are also country/state files that contain souvenirs and mementos from the places Nichols traveled.

The files for the TV show "This is your life" contains scripts, correspondence and photographs.

The manuscripts series consists of television and radio scripts, performance schedules, a jazz thesaurus, notes, and lyrics.

The personal material consists of biographical information, correspondence (included a letter from Bing Crosby), programs and press releases, clippings and articles about Nichols, album covers, jazz books, and awards.

The published sheet music and parts series is also annotated by Nichols numbering system, is alphabetically organized by title, and consists of piano/vocal music only unless otherwise noted.

An oversize series contains large hand-copied music manuscripts arranged in alphabetical order by title.

There are over two hundred recordings on cassette tape, reel-to-reel, and phonograph albums (albums are organized alphabetically by title).

Also available are ten volumes/books about music subjects and jazz artists, including one about The Five Pennies.

There are three scrapbooks that contain clippings about Nichols.

Most photographs have been removed from the collection and stored separately for preservation purposes under the call number PH212.

A listing of music arrangers exists in the paper finding aid.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Composers--United States
  • Conductors (Music)--United States
  • Jazz musicians--United States
  • Music--Manuscripts--United States
  • Popular music--United States
  • Swing (Music)

Personal Names

  • Nichols, Red

Corporate Names

  • Five Pennies (Musical group)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Scores
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sheet music
  • Sound recordings