Arthur G. Hickman (June 13, 1886 ? January 16, 1930) was a drummer, pianist, and band leader whose orchestra is sometimes seen as an ancestor to Big band music. It fits into what are termed "sweet bands", something like that of Paul Whiteman. His orchestra is also credited, perhaps dubiously, with being among the first jazz bands. One who disputed this notion was Hickman himself. At first he even disputed that "jazz" was music at all, alternatively calling it a kind of bubbling water or just noise. Although born in Oakland, he lived in San Francisco, California for most of his life.
His father had various jobs, but his mother had been in vaudeville. He had little to no musical training, but by 1913 he played piano and or drums for a San Francisco hotel. By 1914 he was leading a band which would sometimes be deemed a 'jazz band', but he rejected the term as late as 1920 and possibly even later. He strongly associated jazz with African Americans, sometimes disparagingly and other times in a flattering way, and he was not one. In 1917 he had one of his biggest successes with the song 'Rose Room', which was named after the hotel room. By the 1920s he had one of the, if not the, best paid band in the United States. He also was one of the first dance bands to have a saxophone section. In 1926 he did the Ziegfeld Follies.
He had intended to do a history of jazz, and also had other projects, but by 1929 he was suffering from Banti's syndrome. In 1930 he died.
English musician Ben Black was among those who worked in his orchestra.
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