Hicks, Dan

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Hicks, Dan

Hicks, Dan, San Francisco singer/songwriter who blended hippie psychedelica with jug band music and vocal jazz; b. Little Rock, Ark., Dec. 9, 1941. the charlatans: George Hunter, voc; Mike Wilhelm, gtr.; Michael Ferguson, pno.; Richard Olson, bs.; and Dan Hicks, drm., gtr.

Dan Hicks grew up in Santa Rosa, Calif., taking up drums at the age of 11 and guitar at 20. He played locally and eventually joined The Charlatans as drummer in 1965. They debuted at a three-month engagement at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nev., that summer before returning to Haight-Ashbury. Recording one album eventually released by Philips, The Charlatans disbanded in 1969. Before the group’s breakup, however, Hicks had formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme, who soon left to form It’s a Beautiful Day.

Reconstituted with Hicks, lead guitarist John Weber, violinist Sid Page, bassist Jaime Leopold, vocalist-keyboardist Christina Gaucher, and vocalist Sherry Snow, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks signed with Epic Records in September 1968. Their debut album, Original Recordings, included Hicks’s “Canned Music,” “I Scare Myself,” and the classic “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away.” However, the album sold poorly and the group was dropped by Epic in the summer of 1970. Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks subsequently realigned, retaining Hicks, Page, and Leopold while adding Nicole Dukes (voc), Maryann Price (voc, pere), and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg (voc, vln.) as The Lickettes. Signed to Blue Thumb Records, their live album Where’s the Money failed to sell despite favorable reviews and the first of a series of national tours. Dukes was dismissed and guitarist John Girton added for Striking It Rich!, which contained “Moody Richard,” “Walkin” One and Only, and Johnny Mercer’s “Old Cow Hand.” As Last Train to Hicksville was becoming their best-selling album, Dan Hicks disbanded the group.

In 1978, Warner Brothers released Dan Hicks’s It Happened One Bite, recorded in 1975 with Page, Girton, and Price as the soundtrack to an unreleased film. By 1979, Hicks had formed a musical partnership with guitarist Kenneth “Turtle” Van Demarr, with whom he toured for more than a decade, primarily on the West Coast. Former Charlatan Richard Olsen has led the San Francisco society dance band The Richard Olsen Orch. since the early 1980s. Sid Page resurfaced in 1984 with the jazz album Odyssey, recorded with Dave Shelander. Dan Hicks and His Acoustic Warriors eventually recorded Shootin’ Straight for the On the Spot subsidiary of Private Music The surviving members of The Charlatans (Mike Wilhelm died in 1979) ultimately reunited briefly in 1997.


the charlatans: The Charlatans (1969); One Way (1995); First Album and Alabama Bound (1996). dan hicks and his hot licks:Original Recordings (1969); Where’s the Money (1971); Striking It Rich! (1972); Last Train to Hicksville (1973). dan hicks:It Happened One Bite (1978). sid page and david shelander:Odyssey (1984). dan hicks and his acoustic warriors:Shootin Straight (1994).

—Brock Helander