Richard Nichols, 55, longtime manager of the Roots, died Thursday, July 17, in Philadelphia of leukemia, the band announced.
Mr. Nichols, a native of Philadelphia, “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,” the band said in a statement.
He had been hospitalized for several months and was taken off life support Wednesday night and died Thursday afternoon, according to the Roots-affiliated website Okayplayer.com and Billboard magazine.
“Heavy time for me right now,” band drummer Questlove wrote on Instagram.
Billboard magazine said that Mr. Nichols steered the Roots “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,” The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Author Ben Greenman, who with Questlove cowrote the book Mo’ Meta Blues, described Mr. Nichols as the brain trust of the group.
“You know how in comic books there’s a super-villain who’s a giant brain in a jar . . . in control of everything? Rich is like a non-evil version of that,” he told The Inquirer in 2013.
Mr. Nichols was involved in collaborations between the Roots and artists such as Jay Z, Al Green, Common, The Inquirer, and Erykah Badu.
On Twitter, Scott wrote: “Enduring respect for a brilliant, extraordinary MAN, Rich Nichols. Peace is yours.”
The band said Mr. Nichols is survived by his wife, Mercedes Martinez; two sons, Amiri Nichols and Rakim Nichols; two sisters, Rochelle Nichols-Solomon and Rebecca Dennis; and two brothers, Russell Nichols and Reginald Nichols.
Services were pending.