Innovative singer/songwriter Dan Hicks died early Saturday morning at his home in the Bay Area of California after battling throat and liver cancer. He was 74.
His wife announced Dan's passing on Facebook and his official web page:
My darling darling husband left this earth early this morning.Hicks was born in Little Rock, AK but moved at a young age to Santa Rosa, CA, south of San Francisco. He started playing drums while in grade school graduated to area dance bands by his mid-teens. Dan also had a strong interest in Broadcasting and received a degree in communications from San Francisco State College.
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.
So, Duke, Benny, Django and Stephane -- he's on his way -- you'll be laughing soon!
Mill Valley CA
Feb. 6, 2016
After taking up the guitar in the late 50's, Hicks started playing in coffeehouses but returned to drums to play in the group The Charlatans. They played local Bay Area clubs and Dan eventually started occasionally playing guitar with the band, performing songs that he had written.
While still with the Charlatans, Dan started a second group with a small combo and two backup singers called Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. The band played an eclectic mix of folk, jazz, country swing, bluegrass and gypsy-influenced music with David LaFlamme as the original violin player before he left to form It's a Beautiful Day.
The band signed with Epic Records and released their first album, Original Recordings, in 1969 but wouldn't start to find more nationwide success until 1971 with a reconfigured group and a new contract with Blue Thumb Records. Their three early-70's albums, Where's the Money? (1971), Striking It Rich (1972) and Last Train to Hicksville (1973) became fan favorites although they didn't sell enough to chart but, even though the band had hit its stride, Dan broke them up and pursued a solo career. He said in an interview at the time "I didn't want to be a bandleader anymore. It was a load and a load I didn't want. I'm basically a loner... I like singing and stuff, but I didn't necessarily want to be a bandleader. The thing had turned into a collective sort of thing – democracy, vote on this, do that. I conceived the thing. They wouldn't be there if it wasn't for me. My role as leader started diminishing, but it was my fault because I let it happen; I cared less as the thing went on."
Hicks started working on solo music and wrote for commercials, television and the movies but, in the 80's, he formed a new group, The Acoustic Warriors. After touring for a number of years, they recorded the live album Shootin' Straight (1994).
It wasn't until 1998 that Hicks formed a new Hot Licks and recorded a studio project, Beatin' the Heat, under a new contract with Surf Dog Records. They followed in 2001 with the live album Alive and Lickin' and, in 2003, Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks With an All-Star Cast of Friends which was recorded at Dan's 60's birthday party.
The new band continued to record, including Selected Shorts (2004), Tangled Tales (2009) and Crazy For Christmas (2010). Hicks also repeated his CD/DVD success from a decade earlier by releasing Live at Davies, recorded at his 70th birthday party.
In 2014, Hicks was diagnosed with throat cancer but continued to perform during and after treatment. He announced in June 2015 that he also had cancer in his liver.