Vernon Arthur "Artie" Dicks was a father figure to many performers in Annapolis, regularly showing up at a musical set with a word of encouragement.
Tomorrow, it will be the performers who show up for Artie Dicks, in a musical tribute to his life.
"He was the supportive parent many of the performers never had," said Parris Lane, who saw the late Dicks as a father figure. "He loved music, and he loved people, and he felt it was important to be there."
The former Ink Spot died of pneumonia April 25 at age 65 after a brief illness. His friends and fellow musicians will stage a musical celebration of his life tomorrow at the Surfside 7 restaurant in Edgewater, where he performed weekly through his last days, with the Stef Scaggiari trio.
Friends will read poems and tell stories about Dicks, beginning at 7 p.m. Afterward, there will be a jam session with jazz, rock, blues, swing and other musicians with whom he performed.
"It's going to be a celebration of life," Scaggiari said.
Dicks came to Annapolis in 1985 while touring with a second-generation version of the Ink Spots and decided to make the town his home.
He was born in Augusta, Ga., but grew up in Aiken, S.C., where he nurtured his singing talents in his local Baptist church choir, as did many black performers of the day.
At age 17, after his family had moved to Harlem, Dicks was selected to perform with the nationally known Hall Johnson Choir of New York. He later worked as an usher at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where he met musical greats such as Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and Nat "King" Cole.
After a three-year stint in the Army during the Korean War, Dicks joined the musical group the Chords, which recorded the hit "Sh'boom."
Later, after the original Ink Spots split, Dicks reformed the group with producer Paul Kalet and continued with it through the 1980s.
In Annapolis, Dicks performed with Roy Battle and the Altones, a swing band that held Monday night jam sessions for several years at the Maryland Inn's King of France Tavern.
Dicks also founded the Sunday night blues jams at the Middleton Tavern in 1988.
Pub Date: 5/03/98