I was as surprised as anything to read in The New York Times that Dan Hicks had died at age 74. I was mainly surprised because they knew enough about him to write his obituary.
I've mentioned before that I spent a lot of nights watching late-night television as I was growing up. Most of that late-night television watching consisted of talk shows, such as Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Joey Bishop, and the like.
One night on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show -- I was about fourteen or fifteen -- Johnny introduced an act whose latest LP was designed to look like a matchbook cover. The album was appropriately entitled "Striking It Rich."
With that, a group called Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks took the stage, and played two songs, if I recall correctly: "Walkin' One and Only" and "I Scare Myself."
To quote from The New York Times, "Mr. Hicks began performing with his band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, in the late 1960s in San Francisco, where psychedelic rock bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead dominated the music sound. The Hot Licks’ sound could not have been more different.
"At a time when rock was getting louder and more aggressive, Mr. Hicks’s instrumentation — two guitars (Mr. Hicks played rhythm), violin and stand-up bass, with two women providing harmony and backup vocals — offered a laid-back, all-acoustic alternative that was a throwback to a simpler time, while his lyrics gave the music a modern, slightly askew edge."
Personally, I was hooked. (I also enjoyed another Hicks song, the brilliantly-titled "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?") And I was, as I stated above, surprised -- and saddened -- to have learned today of Mr. Hicks' February 6th passing.
I strongly suggest you go to YouTube and give his music -- music which he called "folk swing" -- a listen. For some reason, I can't embed any videos here!
He'll be missed.
Thanks for your time.