Dan Hicks moved out West to attend college in the early 1960s. He settled in the Bay Area after attending Berkeley and never left.
A former drummer, Hicks took up guitar during college to be a part of the ongoing folk music explosion. In 1965, however, he returned to drums and became a founding member of The Charlatans, one of the earliest psychedelic rock bands to emerge from San Francisco. The Charlatans only released one single, but they did become a mainstay of the growing Bay Area club scene. They would often perform with the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane and others at the Family Dog, the Matrix, and of course, the Fillmore West.
While The Charlatans were still together, Hicks put together an acoustic oriented side project called Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, for whom he led vocals and played guitar. Hot Licks often performed as the opening act for The Charlatans - until 1968, that is, when it was then quite clear that the Hot Licks had rather organically become his musical priority.
Hicks became a regular on the West Coast club scene, and used the Hot Licks as a way to incorporate humor into his folk-oriented songs. The Hot Licks disbanded in the early 1970s and Hicks partly retired from entertainment. In the mid 1980s, Hicks resurfaced and formed a new group called Dan Hicks and His Acoustic Warriors. Their sound was focused on a style he dubbed as "folk-swing music." Somewhere between Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys and Asleep at the Wheel, the Acoustic Warriors became the main vehicle for Hicks' live shows from 1987 through the mid '90s.