Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks

1941 – January 2, 2013

He was the last great bass player from the bebop era,” bassist Ralphe Armstrong.

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks

Dawn over Bethel

Rod Hicks played with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on day “3” of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.  I qualify the number 3 because the band came on at dawn on Monday 18 August which was actually the fourth day of the festival.

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks
Fuzzy screen grab of Rod at Woodstock

What did Hicks think? A 2009  Metro Times article says: Hicks told us about looking out at night and seeing that audience estimated at 300,000 or more. With the darkness dotted with fires, he felt he was looking at the “biggest Indian pow-wow in the world.

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks


Rod Hicks was a well-known Detroit bass player. When he died, a page on the Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association: wrote:

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.

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks

Blog Spot

Paul Butterfield Blog Spot article:

Rod Hicks – The Detroit native joins the Butterfield Blues Band after six years with Aretha Franklin’s band, contributes fretless electric bass (a new instrument in the ’60’s), cello, vocals, and composition to Keep On Movin’Live, and Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin’.

After the Butterfield Band ends, he moves back to Detroit where he becomes a fixture in the local Jazz scene, and works as a road musician, appearing with Paul Butterfield’s Better Day’s several times. One of his songs, Highway 28, is used by Butterfield on the first Better Days album. Hicks also contributes to 1970’s studio albums by artists such asPeter Paul and Mary, & Peter Yarrow. He dies Jan 2nd, 2013 at 71 of cancer. 

AllMusic credits

Roderick Rod Jerry Hicks
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Richard G Brautigan

Richard G Brautigan

Richard G Brautigan

Remembering with a sly smile
January 30, 1935 –  September 1984

Music filled the 1960s. Festivals with thousands of people, like Woodstock,  easily come to mind.

Demonstrations filled the 1960s. Anti-war demonstrations, again with thousands of people easily come to mind.

Fantasy literature filled the 1960s. Not mentioned as often nor demonstrated for (or against), but many authors come to mind.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Richard G Brautigan

George Allen & Unwin first published J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 1937, but its fantasy fit right in with the emerging consciousness-raising of  the imaginative mid-60s. That book and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings sat beside Kerouac’s equally influential On the Road.

With Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, another pre-60s publication (1943).

And an even earlier (1923), Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

Richard G Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

One of the “other” literary names associated with “those” 60s (although again beginning before that decade) is the wonderful Richard Brautigan.

I’m not sure whether the The Pill Versus The Springhill Mining Disaster or Trout Fishing In America introduced me to him, but no matter. I fell in love with the style and off-center views both his poetry and prose gave me.

Richard G Brautigan

“Star-Spangled” Nails

At a time when some Boomers had begun to question Vietnam we read:

You’ve got

some  “Star-Spangled”


in your coffin, kid.

That’s what

they’ve done for you,


Richard G Brautigan

Map Showers

At a time when we had found how much we loved love, we read:

For Marcia

I want your hair

to cover me with maps

of new places,

so everywhere I go

will be as beautiful

as your hair.

Richard G Brautigan

The Chinese Checkers Players

At a time when we searched for a different slice of life, we read:

When I was six years old

I played Chinese checkers

with a woman

who was ninety-three years old.

She lived by herself

in an apartment down the hall

from ours.

We played Chinese checkers

every Monday and Thursday nights.

While we played she usually talked

about her husband

who had been dead for seventy years,

and we drank tea and ate cookies

and cheated.

Richard G Brautigan

Tacoma > San Francisco

Brautigan was born in Tacoma, Washington. His father had left his mother before he was born.  He remained the the northwest, a place he described in Revenge of the Lawn as “a haunted land, where nature dances the minuet with people and danced with me in those old bygone days.”

He moved to San Francisco in 1956. His literary career was slow to succeed. He had written Trout Fishing In America in 1961, but it wasn’t published until 1967. It was a huge success and made Brautigan a household name in households that held such outside-the-box views worthwhile. My household did.

Of interesting historic note is that Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt named a crater explored in the Taurus-Littrow valley on the moon “Shorty”, after the character in the book.

There is also a band that named itself after the book.

Richard G Brautigan

…hard to label

Perhaps Sarah Hall best describes Brautigan’s writing in a 2014 Guardian article“…it’s very hard to label his work. Fairytale meets beat meets counterculture? Surrealism meets folk meets scat? The writing is bursting with colour, humour and imagery, mental flights of fancy, crazed and lurid details. There are wild inaccuracies and fever-dream occurrences. Bees living in hives made of liver. Bears dressed in nightgowns. Whisky-drinking geese. Heartbroken friends set fire to radios and the lovesongs being played melt into each other. People pay 237 cheques into the bank at once while the narrator waits, thinking of the skeleton buried in his garden holding a can of “rustdust” money. Men in debt have the shadows of giant birds attached to them.”

Richard G Brautigan


Brautigan had grown up in poverty and when 20 was diagnosed with mental illness that shadowed his life. A friend discovered his decomposing body on October 25, 1984. The coroner’s estimate of death was September 16.

Lawrence Wright wrote in Rolling Stone magazine of a gathering following Brautigan’s death.

“…the friends of Richard Brautigan gathered at Enrico’s, Richard’s favorite San Francisco bar, to drink his spirit to rest. Some famous people were there, movie people, poets and writers, some old hippies from times gone by, one of Richard’s ex-wives, several girlfriends and a double handful of the alcoholic idealists whom Richard collected like spare change. The bartender wore an electric tie. They talked about why Richard died, and what killed him. Some blamed Ernest Hemingway, but most of them spoke of alcohol, women — and ghosts.

Edwin McDowell wrote in the NY Times:

He never learned to drive, never owned a car and by his own admission was inept at almost everything but writing.

Richard G Brautigan

He published several collection of poems and novels.

Richard G Brautigan
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Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Rich Joffe grew up in Maplewood, NJ and entered Columbia University in the fall of 1968. High school had not been the most enjoyable of years, he was more into folk at a time when rock had become king. Folk’s dominance had slowly faded since its early 60s-Hang-Down-Your-Head-Tom-Dooley-Kingston-Trio-Hootenanny  high point.  Many booed in 1965 when Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival . Folk-rock emerged.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Kingston Trio to Kingsmen

Joffe had joined Columbia University’s a cappella group, the Kingsmen. Their repertoire was limited to standard pop songs, but an opportunity to record pushed them to expand that repertoire.  They didn’t have far to look: doo wop only needed a bit of dusting off and was a music that emphasized harmonies.

A 1978 Harvard Crimson article wrote how George Leonard, the brother of Kingsmen Robert Leonard, arranged a “nostalgia” show and suggested that the group dress in a ’50s style.

Before the show, George also distributed a flyer that read: “So you think you’re an Ivy Leaguer? Bullshit. Underneath your button-down shirt is the eighth grade greaser standing on the corner, whistling ‘Duke of Earl’ to yourself and watching the girls go by. Come down to Ferris Booth Hall where the Kingsmen will be reliving the old days. Come dressed up.”

Joffe remembers: A big crowd came to hear us. We dressed up in what we thought were greasy clothes at the time–white shirts and turtlenecks. And this bunch of about 20 or 30 jocks were sitting in the corner, basically being rowdy during the first part of our show when we were singing all our usual corny stuff.

“When we did the five Oldies, these people went berserk. From then on, it was simply pandemonium.”

The group used that night’s energy to develop their act and costumes.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq

Kingsmen to Sha Na Na

Their local popularity grew, but their international fame came out of Woodstock. And their appeal crossed both sides of the political aisle. Hippies loved the nostalgia; older greasers loved the affirmations.

He remained a student and included study on Sha Na Na road trips. And while the band’s appeal may have originally crossed the aisle, they gravitated toward peace activism. On August 8, 1970 they appeared on the bill of a peace concert at Shea Stadium in New York City sharing the bill with Dionne Warwick, Al Cooper, the cast of “Hair,” Richie Havens. Poco, Ten Wheel Drive,  Paul Butterfield and Big Brother, Creedence Clearwater, Miles Davis, the Rascals, Paul Simon, and Steppenwolf.

Richard Rich Joffe Esq


Rihard Rich Joffe Esq

After most of the members graduated, each faced a choice: continue as a commercial entity or leave and get (back?) on their intended career path. Most chose the latter. Joffee was one of them, but at the same time he and some others felt that as founders of the band the commercial entity “Sha Na Na” owed them money for the band’s ownership rights.

The suit was settled out of court. Joffe went to Harvard but took Woodstock with him. He And would take off semesters and go to auto mechanic’s and welding school. He worked as a delivery boy and a police reporter.

He received his JD from Columbia Law School in 1993. He worked for the law firm Labaton Sucharow.


Richard Rich Joffe Esq
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