Roderick Jerry Hicks, one of Detroit's premier bassists, died on January 2, 2013. He was 71 years of age.
He died of cancer, which wore down his body but not his spirit.
Hicks worked with many singers and bands, including Aretha Franklin's trio that included his lifelong friend, drummer George Davidson. He fit into many sounds and styles of music in addition to Franklin's band; along with Davidson and pianist/arranger Teddy Harris, Hicks was the backbone of the particularly fine Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1969–71. Those three gentlemen were present at the Jazz Alliance of Michigan (J.A.M.) event which resurrected the style of Butterfield's band. Hicks sang and played electric bass, and he could sing some fine blues as well as play solid bass.
Hicks worked for many years in Harris' bands, including the very special 1993 edition at BoMac's Lounge that included alto master Phil Lasley and drumming powerhouse Lawrence Williams. For nearly a year, that quartet (sometimes quintet with Dwight Adams added) was the best band in Detroit, bar none. Roderick, as Harris called him, was an amazing musician and a great gentleman, with a heart as large as his sound.
During a Detroit Jazz Alive appearance, Hicks insisted that he led "King Zook and the Zookateers," and everybody in the studio broke up laughing, especially Hicks.
Rod was an easy guy to like, gifted with thoughtful opinions and knowledge on a variety of subjects.
Rest easy, King Zook. We will keep your spirit alive in our hearts.