Dan Hicks

Written on:February 10, 2016
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So saddened to speak yet again on the passing of a great musician. We’d like to add just a bit here on the life of a very private man and a splendid performer, DAN HICKS, who left us this week at the age of 74.

Born December 9, 1941 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Hicks moved to the West Coast at an early age, and lived most of his life in the San Francisco Bay area. Beginning in the 1960’s he forged his own brand of music, which he wryly referred to as “cowboy folk jazz,” combining jazz, cowboy swing, gypsy jazz…and more. His music created quite a stir and Hicks consistently charmed his audience with his unique twists, excellent lyrics and dry asides.

In the mid-1960’s, Dan Hicks got his first record deal with a group called the Charlatans. Then, in 1971, he released his first album with his most renowned band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. After achieving success and acclaim with the Hot Licks, Hicks bowed out of the public eye in 1974, to the disappointment of his many, many fans. He was quoted as saying in an interview, “I’m basically a loner…I I didn’t necessarily want to be a bandleader.” He drew back from fame to simplify his life, and kept quiet company on his Sausalito houseboat. But Dan Hicks was a major talent, and he kept his creative hand in, writing soundtracks and playing live with a group he called Dan Hicks & the Acoustic Warriors . In the last fifteen years of his life, he re-formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Dan Hicks had returned to his audience, and it was the most prolific period of his life. Even after Hicks’ health failed and he began to battle cancer, he raised a mighty ruckus, hosting the 2014 edition of the Annual Fats Waller Birthday Tribute Concert at SFJazz — and that same year, he performed in concert to a sold out crowd at Yoshi’s jazz club in San Francisco.

Hicks’ taste was superb and the musicians in his band reflected that. His sound, his arrangements, were all his own, always quickly recognizable …pure Dan Hicks. It has been said many times that a Dan Hicks concert would always be supremely entertaining…and his band always left you feeling better for hearing them. This week, Dan Hicks left our stage — and left the world a bit better, a bit happier for having known him and shared in his talent.

Thank you so much, Dan. We wish you Godspeed.

Adios for now, compadre.

– Robin Laurie Stewart

A Jazz Life with Robin Laurie's photo.

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