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The Roots’ Manager Richard Nichols Dies, Music Industry Reacts

Sad news in the music world today. The Roots‘ longtime manager Richard Nichols has died.

On Wednesday (July 16), news of his death spread through the Twitterverse. While artists like Jill Scott and Marsha Ambrosius took to the social networking site to send their condolences early this morning, Nichols actually passed away at 3:05PM today (July 17) after a long battle with luekemia. A source close to the band confirmed his death to Billboard.

The Roots released an official statement about his death on their website Okayplayer.

“The Roots Family are devastated to announce the passing of Richard Nichols, the band’s longtime manager, after a long battle with leukemia. Nichols, 55, a Philadelphia native, managed the band from its inception in 1992, and was instrumental in every aspect of The Roots’ creative, cultural, and professional life  over the past two decades. Nichols is survived by his wife, Mercedes Martinez, his sons Amiri Nichols and Rakim Nichols, his sisters Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, Rebecca Dennis, his brothers Russell Nichols and Reginald Nichols, and the many individuals and artists he mentored in his lifetime.”

Nichols was formerly a jazz radio DJ who embraced all genres of music including hip-hop. He became the Roots’ manager in 1991, and played an integral part in the Philadelphia-bred band’s longevity in the music industry. Nichols was also the executive producer of all of the Roots’ albums including their latest, ‘…and then you shoot your cousin.’

Author Ben Greenman, who co-wrote the book ‘Mo’ Meta Blues’ with Roots’ drummer Questlove, described Nichols as the brain trust of the group.

“You know how in comic books there’s a super-villain who’s a giant brain in a jar…[who's] in control of everything? Rich is like a non-evil version of that,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2013.

Nichols also produced and worked with several Philly artists including Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Jaguar Wright, Dice Raw and the Jazzyfatnastees, among others. His production credits also extend outside of Philadelphia, having produced for legendary artists like Al Jarreau, Sly & the Family Stone, Al Green, Erykah Badu, Zap Mama and Common.

Rappers and R&B singers tweeted their condolences after hearing of Richard Nichols’ untimely death.

Our heartfelt prayers go out to the Roots and the Nichols family.

Read the tweets below.

https://twitter.com/KawanPrather/status/489752701287141377

Watch a Short Film About Richard Nichols of The Roots

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