Dan Hicks, eclectic American folk-jazz singer, dies at 74

Sun Feb 7, 2016 2:22pm EST
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dan Hicks, an American singer and songwriter whose offbeat mix of folk, jazz, pop, country and blues earned him critical acclaim over a 40-year career, has died at age 74, his wife said on Sunday.

CT Hicks posted a message on her husband's website confirming his death in Mill Valley, California, on Saturday after a two-year battle with throat and liver cancer.

"He was true blue, one of a kind, and did it all his own way always," she wrote. "To all who loved him, know that he will live forever in the words, songs and art that he spent his life creating."

In the 1960s, Hicks founded a band, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. The band, which scored hits like "I Scare Myself," earned praise for its eclectic sound drawn from several musical genres.

The band's final album, "Last Train to Hicksville," landed Hicks on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1973, though the group broke up right at the peak of its popularity. Hicks would go on to a long solo career.

He was known for regularly using humor, both in his lyrics – "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away" was one of his biggest hits – and in onstage one-liners.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1941, Hicks and his family moved to California when he was 5 years old, according to his website.

He was a drummer in school and later took up the guitar. He started out playing at coffeehouses as part of the San Francisco folk music scene.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)