Dan Hicks, a singer, songwriter and bandleader whose Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks band had critical and commercial success in the early 1970s by blending country, blues, jazz, swing and comical lyrics, died Feb. 6 at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 74.
The cause was throat and liver cancer, said his wife, Clare “CT” Hicks.
Mr. Hicks began his musical career in San Francisco in the 1960s, where he played drums for the rock band the Charlatans, which, along with Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, had significant influence on the city’s music scene.
His musical tastes were eclectic, including western swing, Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Mel Torme and the Andrews Sisters.
He formed the Hot Licks in the late 1960s and dubbed his sound “folk jazz.” The group’s hits include “I Scare Myself,” “Canned Music” and “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away.” The group’s last album, “Last Train to Hicksville,” helped land Mr. Hicks on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
The Hot Licks broke up in 1973 at the height of its popularity. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that he disbanded the Hot Licks because of personality clashes with bandmates and his self-described “loner” disposition.
Daniel Ivan Hicks was born in Little Rock on Dec. 9, 1941. At age 5, he and his family settled in Santa Rosa, Calif., near San Francisco. He began playing drums and by his teenage years was playing professional dates.
After graduating in the early 1960s from San Francisco State University, he immersed himself in the Bay Area music scene — as a drummer and guitarist.
Following the breakup of the Hot Licks, Mr. Hicks went on to record more than a dozen albums and was acknowledged for his influence on other musicians such as Tom Waits and Elvis Costello.
In addition to his wife, the former Clare Wasserman, survivors include a stepdaughter.
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