Barbecue BobBarbecue Bob was born on 11/09/1902 in Walnut Grove, Georgia. His birth name was Robert Hicks. Hicks was taught guitar, along with his brother Charlie Hicks and Curley Weaver by Curley's mother Savannah "Dip" Weaver. Robert started on the 6 string guitar.
In 1923 or 1924 Hicks moved to Atlanta, Georgia and switched to 12 string guitar. He would become a notable performer of the Atlanta blues style. He worked in various jobs, including Tidwell's Barbecue. He would be discovered by Columbia Records talent scout Dan Hornsby whilst working there. Hornsby recorded him and had him pose in chef whites for publicity, naming him "Barbecue Bob".
In 1927 he recorded his first record "Barbecue Blues". It quickly sold 15,000 copies, making him a best-selling artist for Columbia's race series. His recorded the song "Mississippi Heavy Water Blues" in his second session, which was again popular. In November that year he recorded "It Won't Be Long Now" with his brother Charlie, who was also known as Charley Lincoln.
In 1928 Bob recorded two sides with singer Nellie Florence who he had known since childhood. He also produced "Mississippi Low Levee Blues", which was a sequel to "Mississippi Heavy Water Blues".
In 1930 he recorded "We Sure Got Hard Times Now". In December that year he recorded as part of the Georgia Cotton Pickers which also included guitarist Curley Weaver and harmonica player Buddy Moss. They recorded versions of Blind Blake's "Diddie Wa Diddie" and the Mississippi Sheiks' "Sitting on Top of the World". These would be his last recordings.
Hicks was mainly a blues musician, but he also recorded a few traditional and spiritual songs such as "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Poor Boy, Long Ways from Home" and "Jesus' Blood Can Make Me Whole".
On 21 October 1931, Hicks died in Lithonia of a combination of tuberculosis and pneumonia brought on by influenza.
Hicks would be influential on Atlanta blues musicians such as Buddy Moss. His song "Motherless Child Blues" was recorded and performed on stage by Eric Clapton.