UPDATE: The Roots have issued the following statement on Nichols’ death:
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.
Richard Nichols, who managed and produced The Roots for two decades, died today after a long struggle with leukemia, a source close to the band confirmed to Billboard this afternoon (July 17). The death was also confirmed on The Roots online home, website Okayplayer, which posted that Nichols, “the guiding spirit behind the group,” died at 3:05 pm.
Nichols, who has been hospitalized in his native Philadelphia for several months, was reportedly taken off life support last night, but was still alive this morning — despite a series of tweets from artists close to the Roots, including Talib Kweli, Jill Scott and Phonte, claiming he had already passed away and offering condolences.
Nichols had managed the Roots since the early ’90s, steering them on an unlikely trajectory from Philly street buskers, to heavy-touring hip-hop favorites, to the house band for America’s premiere late night show. He is also credited as producer, executive producer, mixer and A&R on several Roots albums and projects by the many artists the acclaimed band has collaborated with, including Jay-Z, Al Green, Common, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.
Nichols is survived by his wife, singer Mercedes Martinez, his sons Amiri Nichols and Rakim Nichols, his sisters Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, Rebecca Dennis and his brothers Russell Nichols and Reginald Nichols.
Artists took to Twitter to share their condolences and their appreciation for Nicholas’ contribution:
Enduring respect for a brilliant, extraordinary MAN, Rich Nichols. Peace is yours.
— Jill Scott (@missjillscott) July 17, 2014
— 9th Wonder (@9thWonderMusic) July 17, 2014
RIP to my man Rich Nichols. The lessons he taught me both in and out of the studio were priceless. Rest easy, good brother.
— Phonte (@phontigallo) July 17, 2014
I HATE that I have to post this. R.I.P Rich Nichols. Prayers and love to all that knew him. I’ll… http://t.co/z9wDMVNZME
— MARSHA AMBROSIUS (@MarshaAmbrosius) July 17, 2014
Rest in peace to one of the greatest men I’ve ever met, Rich Nichols
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) July 17, 2014
man hearing the news about Rich Nichols really just ruined my night… rip
— donwill (@donwill) July 17, 2014