In celebration of what would have been comedian Bill Hicks‘ 50th birthday, Ryko has released 12/16/61, a 5-track EP containing previously unreleased material. Recorded in Texas when Hicks was just 21 years old, the EP fully encompasses his short but influential career as a satirist, social critic, and stand-up comedian. The digital release is available now on iTunes and Amazon.
The aptly titled EP is a reference to Bill Hicks’ birthday – December 16, 1961. His brother Steve Hicks explains:
“Harder to grasp that Bill would be turning 50 and that he has been gone almost 18 years, is the idea that he has reached so many people around the world. Old fans remain fiercely loyal and new fans discover Bill and his work every day. So, appropriately, this is a big THANKS to all of you. Thanks for remembering Bill and thanks for keeping his memory alive. Enjoy this little tidbit from a 21-year-old Bill. Happy Birthday Brother.”
The release of the EP comes 4 weeks in advance of the digital release of 2010’s acclaimed box set The Essential Collection, a career retrospective featuring Hicks’ best stand-up performances and several hours of unseen footage, interviews, photographs and more. Previously available only as a physical package, the collection will be released digitally on January 17. New features exclusive to this digital release include a 30-minute serious audio journal titled The Adventure, the full 12/16/61 EP, song demos, new artwork that includes childhood photos of Hicks, and commentary by his surviving family members. Stay tuned for more details closer to the release date.
Bill Hicks’ extraordinary social commentary is as fresh and stunning today as it was in the 80’s and 90’s. He engaged his audiences by confronting mainstream beliefs and hypocrisy in a manner that provoked thought as well as laughter. Hicks called himself “Chomsky with dick jokes” and The New Yorker described him as an “exhilarating comic thinker in a renegade class all his own.” Hicks’ career was short in span, but powerful in impact. His rigorous touring schedule from the early 80’s into the early 90’s often tallied over 300 nights per year. He appeared on Late Night with David Letterman eleven times during his career. He also gained a dedicated fan base in the UK where he currently is listed as the UK’s 4th Greatest Comedian in their 2010 poll (conducted by Channel 4).
For more information on Bill Hicks visit www.billhicks.com.