Comin' on like a sci-fi hybrid of T-Bone Walker, Little Richard, and Guitar Slim, guitarist/singer Nick Curran was a powerhouse performer who owed a strong debt to blues and rockabilly artists of the '50s.
Originally from Biddeford, Maine, Curran began performing in his early teens with his father's band, Mike Curran & the Tremors. At 19, while playing with local rockabilly band King Memphis, Curran met rockabilly legend Ronnie Dawson and ended up touring with him for about six months. Soon after coming off the road, he got a call to do a tour with Texas rockabilly queen Kim Lenz and eventually joined her backup band, the Jaguars.
Subsequently, Curran moved to Dallas where he quickly immersed himself in the city's vibrant blues traditions as well as the roots music scene in Austin. It was during this time that Curran toured with retro-country sensation Wayne Hancock. Citing such influences as Wynonie Harris, Otis West, Roy Brown, and many other postwar blues and rock & roll artists, Curran released his solo album debut, Fixin' Your Head, in 2000. Recording live, single takes on vintage equipment, Curran has cultivated an impressive retro '50s jump blues sound that is only enhanced by his predilection for vintage clothes and Nu-Nile pomade. Nitelife Boogie followed in 2001 and further solidified Curran's reputation as one of the most authentic and exciting roots musicians of his generation.
In a move that garnered him a slightly higher profile, Curran signed with legit-blues label Blind Pig Records in 2002 and released his third album the following year. Featuring more of Curran's old-school blues and R&B, Doctor Velvet found the still twenty-something artist branching out into Delta blues, reworking the Sonics' garage rock classic "Shot Down," and performing alongside one of his musical idols, original Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. Further accolades followed in 2004 as Curran received the W.C. Handy Award for Best New Artist Debut and released his fourth album, Player!
Toward the latter stages of the tour promoting Player!, Curran parted ways with his longtime Nitelifes rhythm section of ex-Fabulous Thunderbirds bassist Preston Hubbard and drummer Damien Llanes. Ironically, Curran then joined vocalist Kim Wilson's latest incarnation of the Fabulous Thunderbirds in time to record the band's 2005 release Painted On.
After leaving the T-Birds, Curran formed the punk-blues combo Deguello with T-Birds' bassist Ronnie James Weber, and played in various side projects including the old-school punk- and garage-influenced band the Flash Boys before relaunching his solo career.
In 2009, Curran was diagnosed with oral cancer. He was undergoing treatment when he released his fifth studio album, 2010's Reform School Girl, on Eclecto Groove Records. In late 2010, doctors deemed him cancer-free. However, in 2011 the cancer returned and Curran once again went through a round of chemotherapy. Curran celebrated his 35th birthday and was undergoing more treatment for his cancer when he died on October 6, 2012. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi