Kentucky bluegrass icon Styx Hicks in the hospital

Styx Hicks with his good buddy, Marty Raybon, holding a classic Styx t-shirt

One of the most ultimately rewarding facets of the bluegrass community is the many wonderful people you meet attending shows and festivals. How many times have you returned from a weekend event, and the story you most longed to share was about folks you met in the campground?

Among those classic characters of bluegrass in Kentucky is Styx Hicks, a staple at every festival and concert within an easy drive of Lexington. He doesn’t play or sing, but he knows everyone who does, and might be the biggest and best supporter of the music you’ll ever find. His YouTube channel has nearly 10,000 videos he has filmed at shows over the years, something his 18,000 subscribers enjoy immensely through the year.

Now the community is paying back that support as Styx is laid up in the hospital receiving treatment for a number of issues, where he has been since the beginning of this month.

Styx lives in Morehead, KY, about 60 miles east of Lexington. He serves as postmaster in the nearby small town of Clay City, which has a rich history in Kentucky bluegrass as the home of former J.D. Crowe & The New South guitarist, Rickey Wasson, and his venue, Meadowgreen Appalachian Music Park.

We caught up with Styx this morning to see how he is doing, and to share his situation will all his bluegrass pals in Kentucky and beyond.

As expected, despite three weeks in the hospital, he was in tremendous good spirits as he described his health situation.

“I’ve been losing blood for three or four months, so about three weeks ago they did an upper GI, and found a small cancerous mass on my small intestine. At some point in the next month or two I’ll have to have surgery. Don’t know about chemo or anything yet.

While in the hospital they have found a problem with my foot. I fractured the bottom of my foot in an accident some time ago, and never really took care of it. Now my left leg has been swollen of late, and I have to walk on the side of my foot. They found severe infection in the foot, and the doctors said that if I didn’t get it corrected, I might lose my foot. I also have diabetes, so that is a concern.

They went in and did surgery to remove all the infection, and have been pouring antibiotics into me.”

Hicks tells us that his doctors aren’t terribly concerned about the cancer at this moment, focusing instead on saving his foot, always a concern for diabetic patients. He has been released from the hospital into an affiliated rehab center, and he is learning to get around with an external fixation device attached to his foot to ensure that the bones heal correctly.

At this point his medical teams feels like they can save his foot, though he still can’t put any weight on it.

He says that the response and feedback from his friends in bluegrass have cheered him up tremendously.

“The bluegrass community have been such great supporters. This past ten years I have loved taking and sharing pictures and videos. The artists are always so good about taking pictures with me when I ask.

I’ve been so blessed by the bluegrass community. I’m a strong believer in prayer, and I see such wonderful responses on Facebook since I’ve been in here.

I don’t feel alone. My mom, my kids, my sisters and their kids, have all been in and out of the hospital.

Sister Sadie made a video and sent it to me. Marty Raybon’s called and prayed with me. Rickey Wasson and his family have visited. Rickey’s become one of my best friends. He took me to the hospital back in January.”

Born Allen Hicks, I asked him how he came to be called “Styx,” an unusual nickname, which he says started while he was still in school.

“In high school, one of my friends would say, ‘Allen Hicks, lives out in the sticks.’ I changed the spelling, and have been Styx ever since.”

While he feels deeply indebted for all the calls, visits, and prayers, Styx wants everyone to know that he is in good hands.

“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I’ll probably be here the next two weeks, possibly four. Right now, with no weight on it, it’s hard to go from two feet to one. They are helping me be able to get around in a wheelchair, or maybe a scooter.

I’ve worked 35 years for the post office, and I’ve always saved my sick leave. Now I have 50 weeks of sick leave, and I’m very thankful and blessed that I don’t have to worry about income.

Insurance should cover home health once I get out.

But I feel and appreciate all the prayers.”

I’m sure everyone in bluegrass can join us in hoping that Styx will get well soon! We know that all his friends in Kentucky do.

Besides, we need him out there at the festivals recording videos and taking pictures!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.