Mr. Hicks, born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1941, was the eldest of five children. His parents, Reverend Doctor John J. Hicks and the former Pollie Louise Bledsoe of Atlanta, both deceased, moved to Los Angeles when Mr. Hicks was an infant. That is where Hicks received his first piano lessons under the tutelage of his mother. When Hicks was fifteen, the family moved to Saint Louis, Missouri in order for the Reverend Hicks to take over the pulpit of Union Memorial Methodist Church.
After graduating high school and attending Lincoln University, the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, and Julliard School of Music in New York City, Hicks relocated to New York City from St. Louis by accepting his first road gig with Della Reese. That was over 40 years ago. John Hicks became so firmly established among the most in-demand, prolific jazz pianists and composers on the recording and live appearance scenes, critics permanently affixed the adjective ubiquitous to his name. As a leader or first-call sideman, playing inside or outside the chord changes, presenting sparkling ballads or burning up the keyboard at torrid tempos, Hicks was as versatile as he was omnipresent. He has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Kennedy Center, Spivey Hall, and a host of international jazz festivals.
Mr. Hicks' varied influences include Fats Waller piano rolls, Methodist church music, George Gershwin, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. Among his musical mentors were such immortals as Lucky Thompson, Miles Davis and Clark Terry. Hicks also played road gigs with blues legends Little Milton and Albert King as well as other jazz greats Al Grey, Johnny Griffin and Pharaoh Sanders before he arrived in New York in 1963. John then worked with, among numerous others, Kenny Dorham, Lou Donaldson and Joe Henderson before becoming a full-fledged member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. After two years with the seminal Messengers band, John joined the Betty Carter Trio, another important incubator for world-class beboppers. His productive stints with the vocalist Carter propelled John's career as a recording artist into national and international notice. Mr. Hicks had the opportunity to perform in such places as Italy, Japan, Australia, Israel, France, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, South Africa, and Taiwan