Named after an obscure track by The Small Faces, this band, along with King Crimson, planted the seeds of the Progressive Rock movement, paving the way for Yes, Genesis, Renaissance, and all of the various and sundry “Art Rock” bands from the 1970’s on. Keyboardist Keith Emerson, bassist/singer Lee Jackson, guitarist Davy O’List, and drummer Brian “Blinky” Davison were the back-up band for British soul singer P.P. Arnold. When they got their own time in the studio, they created a unique synthesis of Blues, Bebop, and (of all things) Classical, from Bach to Sibelius to lovely Ludwig Van, all wrapped up in the psychedelia of the times.
The Nice were an immediate success in the U.K., but even after four amazing albums, they failed to catch on in the United States. Not satisfied with a niche audience, Emerson left the band, to join ex-Crimson vocalist Greg Lake and former Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer in creating another new genre: Arena Rock. Jackson and Davison continued, briefly but impressively, with a new keyboardist of similar bent (Patrick Moraz, later of Yes and The Moody Blues) in a similar band, which they called Refugee, in kind deference to the fact that The Nice without Emerson was simply not The Nice.
In a happy postscript for the fans, The Nice reformed for a U.K. concert tour in 2002, garnering much acclaim and encouragement, and spawning a fabulous triple disc live album. As far as new studio material is concerned, well, some of us are waiting very impatiently.