MILL VALLEY, CA (CelebrityAccess) — Singer, songwriter and bandleader Dan Hicks, who led the folk rock group Hot Licks, died on Saturday at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 74.
According to the New York Times, Hick's wife Clare said Hicks was suffering from liver cancer.
Hicks made a name for himself in late 1960s San Francisco, when psychedelic rock bands like Jefferson Airplane were the dominant sound in music. Hicks, who came to call his style of music Folk Swing, combined traditional American folk music with influences from a variety of other sources, including Texas Swing, Jazz and Big Band.
“It starts out with kind of a folk music sound,” Mr. Hicks said in a 2007 interview, “and we add a jazz beat and solos and singing. We have the two girls that sing, and jazz violin, and all that, so it’s kind of light in nature, it’s not loud. And it’s sort of, in a way, kind of carefree.”
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Hicks moved to California with his family. After graduating from San Francisco State College, Hicks performed as a drummer and part-time vocalist with local bands, inclding San Fran-based pysch-rock band The Charlatans. He was still performing with the Charlatans when he formed the first iteration of the Hot Licks along with jazz violinist Sid Page; Sherry Snow and Christine Gancher on vocals; guitarist Jon Weber, and bassist Jaime Leopold.
While the group's initial 1969 Epic Records release "Original Records," sold poorly, the group's three subsequent albums, with some personnel changes, proved to be more successful, garnering positive attention from music critics.
The group then disbanded at the height of their popularity in 1974, with Hicks suggesting that he didn't care for the direction of the group.
"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 said in a 1974 interview.
Despite the demise of the Hot Licks, Hicks continued to perform, on his own and with other groups, including the Acoustic Warriors and the Charlatans.
In 1991, the Hot Licks reunited for a taping of Austin City Limits, and the band subsequently produced a number of well-received albums for Surf Dog records. In addition to recording, the band continued to tour, performing regularly with a rotating cast of musicians, performing most recently in December in Napa, Calif.
Hicks is survived by his wife Clare, as well as a stepdaughter, Sara Wasserman, the New York Times reported.
""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," Dan's wife said in a post on his website. – Staff Writers