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Bill Hicks – "Don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride."

At first glance, an inconspicuous man. Short, dressed in black, pale, a little to the bone, lighting one cigarette from another. Bill Hicks, because we are talking about him here, is a figure who has been and is an inspiration for many artists, especially musicians. All thanks to its unique style characterized by uncompromising and honesty to the pain.

Bill Hicks was born in Valdosta, Georgia, in a house where religion has always come first. However, from the very beginning he showed a rebellious attitude and became the black sheep. At school, he wrote, together with friends, short sketches, which were later played in front of his peers. Inspired by Woody Allen’s performances, the young Hicks began sneaking out of the house in the evenings to perform at a nearby club where open mic parties were held. His first rehearsal on stage was warmly received. The boy finally found himself in a company that understood him.

Bill Hicks wasn’t afraid of words. His monologues were filled to the brim with harsh statements about sex, contemporary politicians, social problems or drugs. His approach to the latter aspect was quite controversial. In jokes, he emphasized that drugs are able to expand the state of mind and help discover unexplored corners of the universe. He openly admitted that he had experimented with marijuana or LSD.

The comedian’s early career was heavily intoxicated. There were even situations when he was so drunk that he could not stand upright on the stage, and his whole performance consisted of shouting and insulting people gathered in front of the stage. Some, however, liked it so much that they let him go, putting him drinks and bringing them to the stage. After some time, he realized that it could not be like this any longer and decided not to drink anymore.

Hicks loved good rock (his idol was Jimi Hendrix) and has been active in several bands as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. However, the priority for him was stand up, thanks to which he could reach people. He couldn’t stand that most musicians focused solely on making money and didn’t spare bad words about them. He spoke harshly about country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, whom he honestly hated. Admittedly, he had a nose, because it is his daughter – Miley – who is on the lips of a large part of humanity these days. Instead, he defended music that closed-minded people called satanic (such as Judas Priest or The Rolling Stones).

The comedian’s dream was music that came straight from the heart, not the product of some high-ranking producer who would turn something that should never have seen the light of day into a mountain of green papers with a wave of a magic wand. Hicks hated consumerism and painfully called our beautiful planet “The Third Shopping Center from the Sun.”

During his performances, Bill tried to teach his audience something that sometimes did not meet with the delight of people gathered in clubs. Although increasingly noticed in the United States, he continued to travel all over the United States, appearing in breathless towns where he was often misunderstood. Again and again he deviated from strictly philosophical topics to calm the audience after a while (“There are more d**k jokes coming, relax.”). He gained incredible popularity in Great Britain, where his characteristic black humor met with great interest. One of his most important shows “Revelations” was filmed in the UK, which appeared on VHS in 1992.

In 1993, he was invited to the “Late Show with David Letterman” for the twelfth time, but his performance was not broadcast because it was considered too controversial for the average American viewer. Specifically, it was about the piece with Jesus who returns to Earth and sees crosses everywhere. The situation made Hicks feel betrayed and lost faith in the American media to the end. He could not understand the decision of the producers of the program, because in what he said, he did not see anything wrong.

Three months before the aforementioned performance, which was never to appear on television, the artist’s life took a 180-degree turn. Doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer with liver metastases, which meant a death sentence. Hicks, while undergoing chemotherapy, focused on producing the albums “Arizona Bay” and “Rant in E Minor“, but did not give up performing. From then on, he began each of his shows with the sentence “This is my final live performance I’ll ever do… ever.” The public, sometimes unaware of the situation, treated it as one of the jokes.

Rant in E Minor, released only three years after Hicks’ death, is a collection of some of the comedian’s most honest and dark lyrics, interspersed with music composed by Hicks. It is a kind of innovative summary of the whole career when it comes to production.

In February 1994, the news of the artist’s death spread around the world. His last words were: “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”

An interesting fact worth mentioning is that the cult band Tool paid tribute to the tragically deceased comedian on the album “Ænima”, which uses fragments of his monologues, and the song “Ænema” is inspired by one of Hicks’ statements about Los Angeles, which he describes as the center of all corruption, for which the only salvation is to sink underground and flood the ocean water.

For those interested in the subject, I recommend the documentary “American: The Bill Hicks Story“.

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