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Legendary South Bend drummer Billy ‘Stix’ Nicks laid to rest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Several hundred loved ones, musicians, and former students gathered at the Morris Performing Arts Center on Friday to say goodbye to South Bend’s showman.

“Billy was a compassionate man,” said Ron Herron, who was Nicks’ first cousin. “He did things the way he wanted. But he always said South Bend is home.”

Nicks was known for his smile and his skills behind the drums.

He lost his battle with cancer on November 15 at age 82.

Even as his career took off, his love for South Bend stayed steady like a drum beat.

“He always talked about how he loved South Bend cause they always supported him. He always said that,” said David Green, a friend and fellow musician who played with Nicks throughout the years.

“He’s an entertainer, performer,” said Bobby Newbill, who also called Nicks his friend. “So it’s only fitting that we entertain his spirit.”

Nicks grew up in South Bend and graduated from Central High School with a passion for drumming.

His band, Billy ‘Stix’ Nicks and the ‘Rhythm Rockers,’ formed in 1954 and soon gained momentum in the world of Motown.

It paved a path for Nicks. He kept on drumming among the stars for the rest of his life.

“Oh man! It was like – he could play anything,” Green said. “It just – wherever you went, he would follow and he’d look at you and make sure you were playing right. He was great. A great musician. A great man.”

Nicks was also remembered on Friday for his service in the Army and his years teaching music lessons – and life lessons – to students across Michiana.

“All we can do as a community and as a family is cherish the good things that he did for everybody,” Herron said.

One speaker at Friday’s service said Nicks was a ‘God-fearing and inspirational’ man.

He was inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame the night before he passed away.

His family asked that we not film his funeral service, but we were allowed to sit in on it.

The Black Friday ceremony was filled with laughter, music, and a special performance by the band Nicks performed with until his dying day, Billy ‘Stix’ Nicks & The Motown Machine.

You can click here to read more about Nicks’ life.

Most of the photos used in the video above came from this 2016 ‘Everybody Has A Story’ piece about Nicks’ career.

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