Guitarist Dan Hicks, widely acknowledged as one of the defining figures in American roots music, died February 6 at age 74 after a two-year battle with cancer at his home in Mill Valley, California.
The fiercely creative singer and songwriter is survived by his wife Clare Hicks and step daughter Sara Wasserman. Clare Hicks has posted a statement at: http://www.danhicks.net/
Hicks began his musical journey as a drummer in the Sixties San Francisco rock band the Charlatans before forming Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. Having earned a reputation as a true original with his signature eclecticism and humor, Hicks continued to carve his way through a number of genres from proto-psychedelia to Western swing and jazz, from Tin Pan Alley to country blues—all the while cultivating his own unique sound.
The original Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks recorded five albums. They toured worldwide, and Dan appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone three times.
Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, there was no one who sounded at all like Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, and remarkably, so many years later, there still isn't. Dan signed with Surfdog Records in 1999 and re-assembled the Hot Licks, with a new incarnation releasing Beatin' the Heat in 2000, featuring collaborations with Bette Midler, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones and Brian Setzer. It was followed by Alive & Lickin' in 2001.
Late 2003 saw the DVD/CD release of Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks: Featuring An All Star Cast of Friends, a concert and video project that reunited Hicks with virtually every musician he ever played and recorded with. In 2005, he released Selected Shorts, which featured Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Gibby Haynes, Jim Keltner and Van Dyke Parks. It was widely touted as the band's best CD to date.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks' 10th studio CD, 2009's Tangled Tales, was produced by Grammy winner Chris Goldsmith (Blind Boys of Alabama). It featured new songs by Hicks and special guests David Grisman, Roy Rogers and Charlie Musselwhite, among others.
The very first and long-awaited Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks Christmas album was released in October 2010, Crazy For Christmas, and lauded byNPR's Fresh Air, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and theWashington Post. Called one of the Best of 2010 by the Village Voice,Crazy For Christmas also landed on the Billboard charts.
In honor of the legend himself, dozens of stars appeared on stage to celebrateDan Hicks' 70th birthday. The DVD/CD Live at Davies (2013) captures the best of the night. It includes several of Dan's biggest hits as well as some never before released live. Special guests include Rickie Lee Jones, Harry Shearer, Van Dyke Parks, David Grisman, Tuck and Patti, John Hammond and Ramblin' Jack Elliott among many others. Perhaps the Minneapolis Star Tribune summed it all up best "Dan Hicks is the eternal hipster, purveyor of the drollest and most swingin' tunes the rock generation ever enjoyed."