Dan Hicks of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks Dies at 74
Dan Hicks, who helped keep the traditions of rock’s roots in country, bluegrass and swing alive with his band the Hot Licks, has died at the age of 74. He had been battling throat and liver cancer for two years.
“My darling darling husband left this earth early this morning,” his wife, CT, posted on his website today. “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!”
Born in Little Rock, Ark., on Dec. 9, 1941, Hicks’ family moved to San Francisco, where he took up drumming before learning to play guitar as a teenager. After a spell in the proto-psychedelic band the Charlatans, he struck out on his own, forming the Hot Licks in 1967.
With a style that Hicks called “folk jazz,” they recorded their first album, 1969’s Original Recordings, for Epic, but when that proved unsuccessful, they moved to the acclaimed boutique label Blue Thumb Records. The three discs they recorded between 1971 and 1973 — Where’s the Money?, Striking It Rich and Last Train to Hicksville… the home of happy feet — saw them build their audience thanks to their combination of pre-rock sounds, musical virtuosity and, as evidenced by their album titles, off-beat sense of humor. But before they could further build upon Last Train‘s No. 67 chart placement, Hicks broke up the Hot Licks.
Hicks spent the bulk of the next two decades under the radar, working with a band dubbed the Acoustic Warriors. But in 2000, he put together a new version of the Hot Licks and released the acclaimed Beatin’ the Heat, which featured cameos by longtime admirers Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones and Brian Setzer. Several more albums followed in the next decade, including a Christmas album in 2010. His 70th birthday concert, which featured Jones, Van Dyke Parks, David Grisman and other friends, was released in 2013.
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