Thu, 26 Nov 2020
Newbury musicians are mourning one of their own – guitarist Dave Hicks, one of the founder members of Newbury’s legendary and much-loved band Ricky and the Gamblers, died last week.
Here fellow band members Pete Fry, Ricky Hicks and Nigel Reveler pay tribute to him and chart the course of his musical life.
Dave decided he was going to form a band in the 60s and sure enough he did – The Gamblers, consisting of himself, his cousin Pete Fry and the late Johnny Kitchener. His mother said he couldn’t form a band without his brother, hence Rick joined and the band became Ricky and the Gamblers.
They toured various village halls and town halls across the South and went on to sign to the independent record label Major Minor.
Dave was very surprised by the popularity of the band, but was also very appreciative of the fans that they had – and there were hundreds of them. This also showed, in the last few years, when they re-formed to play some more of their old haunts, including the Liberty Ballroom at Greenham, where their tickets sold out within hours of release.
But this wasn’t the only band that Dave was involved in – there were various musicians around Newbury that he played with – Paul Jones, Ian Borrel, Terry Bailey and Alan Bailey to name a few. Dave was not only a guitar player, but also a very good vocalist. He sang vocals and played rhythm guitar in Snatch, which also featured his cousin Pete, the late Denny Clarke and Lee Feltham. After Snatch disbanded Dave took time out for a bit, but was then approached by Nigel Reveler from Tonton Macoute, who asked if he fancied forming a band, which he did. This also featured his cousin Pete, Dave Stephens and Colin Jennings. They called themselves The Rascals... and rascal they did!!
Dave Hicks’ sense of humour was unbelievably dry and some of his comments were incredible. Pete says that his guitar solo in Jeff Beck’s Hi Ho Silver Lining was different, to say the least. He said to Pete once that he didn’t like playing it the same every time as he got bored with it.
Another band that Dave was involved with was The Ilsleys in which he showed off his fantastic harmony skills, along with Colin Jennings and Dave Stephens, which can be heard on their CD. Dave made various TV and radio appearances. It wasn’t only his guitar playing that was great, he was also very talented on the saxophone. His sax solo on the Star Turn on 45 Pints Top 10 single I Will Always Love You was ground-breaking. It ventured into an area that Charlie Parker refused to go.
Pete said that he will miss him immensely “not just his guitar playing, but also his friendship and amazing sense of humour”.
The last word goes to Dave’s brother Ricky: “Be it a rehearsal or a gig, it was always great fun with my brother Dave.
“I loved him dearly. He was a source of inspiration on the musical side. There was a telepathy between us.
“To me this is a great loss, and every gig I do in the future I will be thinking of him.
“As the song goes, ‘I will see him in my dreams’.”
Dave Hicks, right, gigging with Ricky and the Gamblers at Greenham Air Base in 1962
Dave, third from left, outside the Liberty
Ballroom before the 50-year reunion gig in 2015