As confirmed by a post from his wife on his official website, singer-songwriter Dan Hicks has died after a two-year battle with throat and liver cancer. He was 74.
Hicks was born in Arkansas in 1941 but moved with his family to California when he was five, and he developed an interest in music at that young age by playing drums in his school bands. He started playing guitar around the early ‘60s and was a notable member of San Francisco’s burgeoning folk music community, but he went back to the drums in 1965 when he joined up with psychedelic rock group The Charlatans.
A few years later, Hicks broke off from The Charlatans to form his own band, Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks. In the next four years, Hicks and the Hot Licks released four albums, Original Recordings, Where’s The Money?, Striking It Rich, and Last Train To Hicksville. Although the albums were all well-received critically, it wasn’t until Hicksville that the group started to find commercial success. However, at that point, Hicks decided to effectively disband the group, telling Rolling Stone at the time that he “wasn’t in love” with performing like he used to be, and that touring had “become a big business trip” instead of “a fun music trip.” Hicks also cited his “inner demons” putting him in “a state of mind where everything bothers you.”
Hicks released a solo album, It Happened One Bite, in 1978, and then took a 22-year break from performing as a frontman, though he occasionally recorded music for soundtracks and performed with a group called The Acoustic Warriors. In the early ‘90s, Hicks resurrected the Hot Licks name and started performing with a rotating lineup of musicians he had worked with in the past. By this point, audiences had caught up with Hicks’ talent and his unique combination of folk, jazz, bluegrass, and swing music, finally granting him and his Hot Licks some of the mainstream recognition that had eluded them in the decades prior.
Hicks’ wife, Clare Hicks, honored her husband with a brief message on Hicks’ official website:
My darling darling husband left this earth early this morning.
He was true blue, one of a kind, and did it all his own way always.
To all who loved him, know that he will live forever in the words, songs, and art that he spent his life creating. He worked so hard on each and every detail—they are all pure Dan.