OBIT: Dan Hicks, 1941-2016

Dan Hicks might not be as well known as some of the rock mainstays who have left us the past few months, but never-the-less, Hicks, leader of the seminal Bay Area Gypsy Jazz/Rock-a-Billy/Jug Band/Folk troupe, “Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks,” passed away February 6 from Cancer.

Hicks’ band involved a country swing core (violins) along with guitar, bass, and three vocals–Hicks and two women singers–but he certainly was a wordsmith, as well as a man who carried his bay area sensibilities to heart.

I remember in 1973, seeing the Kinks at Winterland, with Hicks and Licks playing second on the bill. His band turned in a great set, but Hicks spent a few moments sort of happily sneering at the crowd that he knew the audience really couldn’t wait to “see the motherfucking Kinks” (who were on tour supporting Everybody’s In Showbiz). Still, the band (both in fact) were great.

I Scare Myself, might well be Hicks best known tune, and this great clip features Hicks on his 60th birthday, playing the Warfield in The City, with virtually all the musicians who had graced his band at one time or another.

But, my favorite was the uber-clever, How Can I Miss You (When You Won’t Go Away).

One less funny irreverent musician on the planet.

2 thoughts on “OBIT: Dan Hicks, 1941-2016

  1. That is a great song, I was at that concert and had a great time. I saw them at Yoshi’s in Oakland about a year ago, right before his health was bad, and actually got to talk to him for a minute. They had been scheduled to play in Marin County in August (he cancelled due to his illness), and I asked him if he would consider playing this: He said he never had played it live, and though he didn’t commit, I had hopes; oh well. (The album on the “video” is in my collection, lots of early Tower of Power on it as well.) RIP Dan, I saw you a number of times in various incarnations of your bands, and never failed to leave with a smile on my face.

  2. I was reminded today that Dan and the Hot Licks ended up on the cover of the Rolling Stone, after which he blew up the band. He said he wasn’t a band leader, but that 60th birthday clip of I scare myself is awesome. That’s a band leader of a big band of personal history.

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