John Hicks, a bop-based pianist who was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the Woody Herman Big Band and the Betty Carter Trio during the 1960s, in addition to performing with Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Etta Jones and innumerable others, died yesterday morning in New York City after being hospitalized with internal bleeding on May 9. He was 64.
Born December 21, 1941 in Atlanta, GA, Hicks studied music at Missouri’s Lincoln University, the Berklee College of Music and, surprisingly, on the road as a blues sideman. The pianist, who would later perform in post-bop and avant-garde settings during the 1970s, cut his teeth playing 12-bar accompaniment behind blues legends Albert King and the late “Little” Milton Campbell in 1959. After moving to New York from St. Louis in 1963, Hicks became immersed in the jazz scene, appearing and recording with Sonny Red, Grant Green, Johnny Griffin, Lou Donaldson and Joe Henderson, among many others.