Musician Billy 'Sticks' Nicks dies at 82

“The beat of his heart was really as strong as the beat of his drumsticks,” said Steve Luecke, Former South Bend Mayor.

South Bend legend and nationally recognized musician, Billy “Stix” Nicks leaves a legacy of iconic rhythm and lifelong impact behind. Nicks passed away at age 82 Wednesday after battling with cancer just two days after he was inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame.

“Billy just had such a great energy and spirit about him when he would do performances, he would often talk about having been on the road,” said Luecke.

Executive Director of the South Bend Alumni Association and former South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke, who hosts the Hall of Fame event each year, recalls dancing to his buddy’s music.

“I’ve known Billy for a long time. My wife and I love to dance and have been in many functions that either his trio or the Motown Review were playing. My wife and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary, Billy was playing on The Island here at Century Center, so we came down again and danced to Billy and his group and he always brings out the joy in life,” said Luecke.

Born in Mississippi and raised in South Bend, Nicks began playing back in 1955 with Junior Walker, then helped jumpstart his own band, the Rhythm Rockers right here in South Bend.

“Toured with Junior Walker and the All-Stars, was on the stage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and other great venues.  People really know Billy as a wonderful musician, a teacher, and he served the community in a lot of ways,” said Luecke.

Due to complications with nicks’ illness he wasn’t able to be physically present at the hall of fame event on Tuesday where a tribute video to Nicks' music played, courtesy of Everybody Has a Story for hundreds to watch.

“We had 580 people there. I was disappointed that Billy couldn’t be with us,” said Luecke.

But Luecke was honored to witness another one of his friend’s many accomplishments and marks on the community.

“His family tells us that he was alert in the hospital and they were sending him pictures all night long so he was connected and he could sense the love and appreciation that the community was expressing for him. I love Billy and I’m just delighted that we were able to induct him into the Hall of Fame.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced. We’ll be sure to pass those details along when we get them.

Share this article: