Nicholas Imre Holmes was born in Manhattan, and at 18 began playing music professionally in the folk clubs and bars around Greenwich Village, becoming a regular on Bleecker Street and the surrounding area. In the late sixties he moved on to Florida; it was pre-Disney and Orlando was still a cow town. Nick played in lounge bands, four sets a night, five nights a week, in bowling alleys bars and strip clubs, and at frat parties at the University of Florida in Gainesville on the weekends. “We were virtually a Blue’s Brother’s movie,” Nick said, “and for a while it was good. My band played all different kinds of music and I learned a lot during that time.”
Nick also ran a back-up band for Dee Clark and Joe Hinton. These guys were Motown acts, and Nick’s first experience of show business came from them. “I remember this girl who was traveling with Dee Clark,” Nick says. “When it was time for Dee to go on stage she’d always say, ‘show time!’ You just knew that she was making a sexy reference; she was that kind of girl. But she was sincere, and as she pushed Dee out on to the stage, she would smile and say it every time, ‘show time!’ Dee put on a great show for that girl.”
And then Nick met Gamble Rogers, the Florida folk music legend. Gamble was moving from Florida to New York to join the Serendipity Singers, a popular eight-piece singer’s band. Six months later, Nick joined Gamble and the Serendipity group, back in New York. He toured with them for three years, two hundred concerts a year. They performed on The Johnny Carson Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and Kraft Music Hall – three of the most watched television shows of that era.
Nick recorded two albums with The Serendipity Singers, and then moved on to Nashville to record his first solo album, Hunger is the Best Sauce, for United Artists.
Then in 1970, Nick exchanged the life of an up and coming singer/songwriter for the opportunity to play with the prestigious jazz-rock band, White Elephant. The band included legendaries such as Michael Mainieri, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, the Brecker Bros, Warren Burnhardt, Hugh McCracken, and Jon Pierson. These were guys who played with Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, and more. The talented Jay Messina was the engineer for White Elephant.
The band signed with Michael Lang (co-creator of Woodstock) and Just Sunshine Records and a smaller configuration of the original White Elephant recorded Nick’s second solo album, Soulful Crooner.
Nick reminisces, “Everything was great. I had a house in the country, an apartment in the city, a beautiful family with my two lovely kids, a record label, a publishing deal, a mistress, and a new car. And then one day, I had nothing. It’s the usual story. Show biz. Legal struggles. Divorce. I took a trip around the world to get myself back on my feet. And it worked.”
When he returned from that trip, Nick rented a loft in Chelsea and built a recording studio. He owned and operated Pantry Music for twenty years from that location on West 26th Street, where he produced many small records for songwriters on low budgets. He continued to record his own songs, and recorded another cd, Freedom Slave, with Michael Mainieri as producer.
While attending NYU as a Trustees Scholar, Nick put together The Neurosurgeons, an art band. In the 1990’s he wrote and performed a musical tour of NYC called My New York. Continuing to write everything from ballads to the obscure, Nick created works such as sound tracks for five of Maria Beatty’s erotic films. These scorings are bold and innovative collaborations with one of the genre’s finest and most celebrated artists.
Nick has collaborated as well with Diane Keaton, putting her poetry to music and recording a CD for her. He also wrote a “Faust” with music and spoken word.
In 2007, in a rather unconventional move, Nick closed up Pantry Music and relocated to Eleuthera, Bahamas where he built a studio in his home.
Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bette Midler, and others have recorded Nick’s songs.
Nick has returned to New York to perform and record again. What’s next? A little blues/rock band with a guitar tuned weird? Ya. Welcome back, again.