A week after the gig at CB’s, Andy Towns was at a party at our rehearsal studio and he met drummer Nicky D’Amico, who was in a band called the Ultimates (with the fabulous Bernard “B” McDermott on guitar & vocals). Nicky liked Andy’s songs too, and agreed to come and play. Also that week I took my Rickenbacker to the shop for some work, along with a friend of mine who happened to be a thriving dealer. On the wall was hanging a wine red 1959 Les Paul Junior, and I just about shit. “That’s the one guitar in the world I want” I said to my friend, and he replied “So buy it.” I was about as far from $500 as I was from $500k and I informed him of this fact. “I’ll lend it to you, you pay me back in four months.” I said you got it. So I got it and I’ve had it ever since. It’s still a killer, not versatile but man it cranks.
I show up at practice and Andy isn’t there yet but Nicky is. He looks at my guitar and says “You know any Heartbreakers songs?” I said, “Yeah.” He kicked into One Track Mind and we locked in and played together for 15 years. I’d still be playing with him but I moved 2000 miles away. But that’s another story.
Nicky D’Amico. Red Hook, Brooklyn. What can I say, where do I start? Nicky is highly unpredictable but always neat. Always on the money on the drums. He used the biggest sticks I ever saw, they looked like sawed-off nightsticks. He hit so hard that 200-lb. test fishing line would break on his snares. He used piano wire. He once described how he plays: “I think of all these great things to do and I don’t do them.” That’s not quite true, Nicky did do things, he just never overplayed. Nicky was well-known to Jerry Nolan and JT and Walter Lure, stemming from when JT played with us at Max’s. Many tried to steal him over the years but I am extremely proud that he always wanted to play with me.
Writing this got me off my ass to post some Nicky on youtube (actually, my son Gene posted it, such feats are beyond me). Here he is. I chose this song because the drums are mixed loud. This is not The Slumlords but Fun/No Fun, recorded in 1986:
Here’s an earlier one, a demo (now on LP! Rave Up Records!) with The Sinatras (you’ll know soon enough) in 1979:
Nicky on live performance: “I wanna make a movie of me playing the whole set, and then when we play, you guys play, but show the movie of me and I’ll sit in the audience and watch.”
On equipment: “I try to get rid of one piece every year. I wanna get rid of my floor tom but I still use it on a few things. Let’s not do those songs anymore. No wait, I use it on One Track Mind. Shit.”
On his life as a consumer: “When they make a new and improved product, they should still make it the old way, in case you liked it like that.”