Secrets & Stories From Australia's Best Studio Drummers

David Hicks Drummer Biography

David was inspired to take up drumming at the age of eight by the sound of his school marching band at Blackburn Primary. Not long after, aged ten, he began performing on his newly-acquired blue sparkle “ZENITH” three-piece with a dinner dance trio and the local amateur theatre group orchestra. In secondary school, David’s musical skills matured quickly in a rock band he formed at Camberwell Grammar School (winners of several talent quests), playing seminal music of the era – Beatles, Hendrix, Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin – and writing original material. He also played in a Polish function band.

At home, his elder sisters’ records contributed to his education, adding Buddy Holly, Simon & Garfunkel, Dudley Moore Trio, and Stephane Grappelli to the list of influences. Going to see local drummers such as Gil Matthews (with ‘The Aztecs’) and Mark Kennedy (with ‘Friends/Ayers Rock’) provided further inspiration. Studies at Billy Hydes with Mal Jacobs and later Ray Raphael followed, as David continued to perform part-time with various rock and funk bands until turning professional in 1977.

He was fortunate to write, record and perform with Mushroom Records act MILLIONAIRES in that year. After their dissolution, David and MILLIONAIRES guitarist Ren Walters formed the jazz/fusion band WILDLIFE. More recordings and performances during 1978-79 culminated in their acclaimed appearance supporting John McLaughlin’s ONE TRUTH BAND at the Palais Theatre. Outside the fusion scene, David also kept busy recording singles and an album with Festival singer/songwriter PAUL O’GORMAN (who had a Top 10 single, “Ride, Ride America”); and playing percussion on an Arts Council-sponsored tour with the Ritual modern dance company.

From 1981-1984 David again wrote, recorded, and performed with a Mushroom label act: THE KEVINS had a Top 10 single titled “Romeo Romeo” which featured a bonus for David’s creativity – the song intro was in 5/4 time! After some experience with ‘underground’ original bands like TRUE BROTHERS and a stint with a Top 40 cover band came a dream opportunity – a year with the legendary Venetta Fields in VENETTA’S TAXI.
A move into freelancing in 1987 resulted in a rekindled interest in jazz, as David performed with artists like LISA YOUNG and, ultimately, WILBUR WILDE’S BLOWOUT – the Blowout who took The Basement in Sydney by storm! They established an attendance record there, which still stands. Throughout the eighties, David appeared regularly on television with most bands mentioned above, playing live to air on national programs such as Hey, Hey It’s Saturday, Ray Martin’s Midday Show, Countdown, and Young Talent Time.

In 1989, he recorded some of his best performances up to that date with PRISCILLA’S NIGHTMARE (released on Mushroom’s White Label), the Elvis-style tribute band which proved so popular with Melbourne club-goers. This band still performs several gigs a year.

Also, in 1989 David deputised in Man of La Mancha at the State Theatre. Over the next few decades, he performed on percussion and/or drum kit in the pit orchestras of Les Miserables, Company, Wizard of Oz, Hair, Ginger Meggs, Rocky Horror Show, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, 42nd St., Barry Humphries’ Look At Me When I’m Talking To You, Assassins, A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, She Loves Me, Call Me Madam, Chicago, The Pajama Game, Lion King, Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate, Spamalot, Wicked, Mary Poppins, Next To Normal, The Producers, West Side Story, Cabaret, The Bodyguard and Aladdin.


Other band work during 1990-92 included CHRISTINE SULLIVAN FUNK; SPECTRUM; MATTHEW KIRSCH TRIO; JOHN HAWKER BIG BAND; ALLAN ZAVOD TRIO; CARL ORR, and backing visiting New York trumpeter RANDY BRECKER.
From 1990-1995 he performed extensively around Australia and also in Bangkok with the South-African-born Joyce family in the funk band JABULANI. He used a hybrid kit combining Ludwig snare, Zildjian cymbals, and firstly an Octapad with Akai sampler, superseded by a Roland TD7 kit. In the early 90s, he performed a drum clinic at Billy Hydes Melbourne shop.

From 1995-2000 he performed in Melbourne and Sydney (and on a weekly ABC TV comedy program) with cabaret satirists MISS DOROTHY & THE ENDLESS LOVE MACHINE, as well as freelancing with jazz, rock, and even Celtic bands.
In 1995 David was invited to join the Pearl/Zildjian endorsed artists roster.

During the 2000’s David toured with some of Australia’s legends, including MAX MERRITT, DOUG PARKINSON, BRIAN CADD, NORMIE ROWE, COLLEEN HEWETT, KEVIN JOHNSON, BOB STARKIE, ANDY COWAN, and THE SEEKERS (2004-2014). In 2007 David backed GERRY MARSDEN (of Gerry and the Pacemakers fame) during his Australian tour. During 2008-2012 David continued freelancing in bands such as the reformed STOCKLEY, SEE & MASON BAND, and the BUSHWACKERS, along with corporate work backing DAVID CAMPBELL, ANDREW O’KEEFE, BOB VALENTINE, and TOM BURLINSON.
In 2016 and 2018, he toured Australia backing international European star PATRIZIO BUANNE.

The 2020’s era finds him playing original jazz/funk with DIG WE MUST (David also composes for this band), ABSOLUTE BIG BAND, FEM BELLING, and the JOHN MONTESANTE QUINTET/DECTET, as well as country-influenced BOB VALENTINE AND THE BAND OF RENOWN. Rock duties are performed with WILBUR WILDE, as well as occasional shows with BOB STARKIE’S Skyhooks tribute band, along with RON VINCENT’s Neil Diamond and Cat Stevens tribute shows and party band RUSTY NAILS.

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