As said before, from "Satanic Majesties" on, Nicky Hopkins was the prominent piano player on the Rolling Stones' records. Not so strange, since 'the thin man', as Nicky was called, was a brilliant player, with a style completely different from Stu's. And although Nicky and Stu got along with each other very well, Ian Stewart instantly knew he couldn't cope with Hopkins' incredible talents. Ian McLagan, a piano player himself, recalls:
"One day when I walked in the door at Bermondsey, Stu ushered me into his office on the ground floor and played me Delaney and Bonnie's album "Accept No Substitute" that had just been released. There were photographs of the musicians on the back cover, and it was the first time I had knowingly heard Jim Keltner, Carl Radle, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Bobby Whitlock, and Delaney and Bonnie's soulful singing. But what seemed exeptional to me was Leon Russell's piano playing on "Ghetto". He soared!
Stu played the song over and over for me, and I was amazed at how the piano on the end section built like a skycraper, layer after layer, up and up. It just got more and more exciting. Stu turned me on to this new gem, and then he told me a revealing story about Nicky Hopkins, our mutual pal, and Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood's mate in the Jeff Beck Group.
'That bloody Nicky', he said with a scornful look, 'I played it for him the other day, and that's what I hate about him. I only played it once and he went straight to the piano and played the whole thing, note for note. It really pisses me off!'. It was funny because he was serious, but I understood his frustration as neither of us could compete with Nicky as a piano player. Our talents are our own, but we couldn't play something just that brilliant after hearing it for the first time. He really was annoyingly, incredibly talented".
Adapted from the following source: Ian McLagan, All The Rage, Pan Books, 1998.