William Melvin "Bill" Hicks was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and musician, born on December 16, 1961. His material largely consisted of general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved the significant admiration and acclaim of numerous comedians, writers, actors and musicians.
Born in Valdosta, Georgia, soon to be stand-up comedian Bill Hicks was the son of Jim and Mary (born Reese) Hicks, and had two elder siblings, Steve and Lynn. He lived with his family in Florida, Alabama and New Jersey, before settling in Houston, Texas, when Hicks was seven. He was raised in the Southern Baptist faith, where he first began performing as a comedian to other children at Sunday School.
He was drawn to comedy at an early age, trying to compete with Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and writing routines with his friend Dwight Slade. Worried about his behavior, his parents took him to a psychoanalyst at age 17 but, according to Hicks, after one session the psychoanalyst informed him that "...it's them, not you."
In Hicks’ senior year his parents moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Hicks stayed at home and began doing comedy every night. He graduated in 1980. In the spring of that year Hicks moved to Los Angeles to live and perform, becoming a regular at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. He then moved back to Huston and lived with his girlfriend, Laurie Mango, in 1982.
In April 1993, while touring in Australia, Hicks started complaining of pains in his side, and on June 16 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver. He started receiving weekly chemotherapy, while still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth.
Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks performed the final show of his career at Caroline's in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents' house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994. He was 32 years old. Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi.
On February 7, 1994, Hicks authored a verse on his perspective, wishes and thanks of his life, to be released after his death as his "last word”, ending with the words: “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”
It was 1978 when stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, along with friends Slade, Ben Dunn, John S. and Kevin Booth, began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston. Many nights, when Hicks was going out to perform, he had to sneak out of his window at night as to not wake his parents. By the autumn of 1978 he was performing once every Tuesday night, while still attending Stratford High School. He was well-received and started developing his improvisational skills.
In 1980, sedan-up comedian Bill Hicks moved to Los Angeles to live and perform, becoming a regular at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, There he did a short-lived sitcom, Bulba. In 1984, Hicks was invited to appear on Late Night with David Letterman for the first time where he had some censorship problems. These problems followed him throughout his various TV appearances.
In 1987, Bill Hicks appeared on Rodney Dangerfield's Young Comedians Special. The same year, he moved to New York City, and, for the next five years, performed about 300 times a year. In 1989 he released his first video, Sane Man which was reissued in 2006.
In 1990, stand-up comedian Bill Hicks released his first album, Dangerous, performed on the HBO special One Night Stand, and performed at Montreal's Just for Laughs festival. He was also part of a group of American stand-up comedians performing in London's West End in November. Bill Hicks was a huge hit in the UK and Ireland and continued touring there throughout 1991. That year, he returned to the Just for Laughs festival and filmed his second video, Relentless.
Bill Hicks was also a musician. He recorded the Marble Head Johnson album in 1992.Same year he toured the UK, where he recorded the Revelations video for Channel. Also in that tour he recorded the stand-up performance released in its entirety on a double CD titled Salvation. Hicks was voted "Hot Standup Comic" by Rolling Stone magazine.
When Bill Hicks started receiving weekly chemotherapy, he was still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth. He was also working with comedian Fallon Woodland on a pilot episode of a new talk show, titled Counts of the Netherworld for Channel 4 at the time of his death. The Counts of the Netherworld pilot was shown at the various Tenth Anniversary Tribute Night events around the world on February 26, 2004. Hicks performed the final show of his career at Caroline's in New York on January 6, 1994.
A documentary entitled American: The Bill Hicks Story, based on interviews with his family and friends, premiered on March 12, 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas and has subsequently become available to purchase on DVD.