Murphy HenryYes, indeed, folks, today is the day I share my birthday with my dad, Dr. L.G. Hicks, Jr. Or vice versa. He first saw the light of day in1925; I scooted out in 1952. I've always liked that reversal of numbers. Although I was raised (just like corn) in Clarkesville, Georgia, my dad's hometown, I was actually born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, birthplace of the great Don Reno. We were there because Daddy was doing his internship preparatory to moving back home to open his own practice.
He was surely one of the last of the old-fashioned General Practitioners, a real, honest-to-goodness country doctor who, in my lifetime, still made house calls and even treated patients who came to our home.

I've been in Clarkesville this whole weekend, spending time with Mama and Daddy, and we will be having our birthday supper tonight. I've already given Daddy my present, a song I wrote for him that starts off "Born on your birthday, in South Carolina / You were just 27, and a brand new M.D....".

I can't tell you how proud I've always been to share birthdays with my dad. It made me feel special. (And with four younger sisters, every little bit helped!) Mama always baked us two cakes. Daddy's was usually a pound cake and mine, something chocolate, often with M and M's on top!

Those of you who read liner notes closely may know that for most of my young life I had planned on being a doctor, just like Daddy. (When I was feeling especially pious--usually after a summer revival--I wanted to be a medical missionary!) But my plans were derailed by a higher power when, deep into my third year as a pre-med student at the University of Georgia in Athens (go Dogs!) I went to a show at a small club called The Last Resort and heard folk singer Gamble Rogers perform. Pretty much from that point on my medical aspirations went spiraling down the tubes as I spent most of my time playing my 12-string guitar, learning Gamble's songs, performing as a folk singer myself, hanging out at the Last Resort, driving long distances to hear Gamble play, and finally, attending my first bluegrass festival (at Gamble's suggestion) where he introduced me to a friend of his, Red Henry.

If my dad was disappointed that I chose music over medicine and picking the banjo over delivering babies, he never said a word.

So, if you'd like to wish us a happy birthday, you know that Casey, our super web manager, has made it really easy to post comments at the end of each blog. I would like nothing better than to hear from some of you and I'll be sure to share your comments with my dad!


  1. martha carlton

    Murphy, you know how much you and your whole family have meant to me. Your dad was an angel to me during my law practice. I will never forget how kind and patient he was with me. After hearing all the songs you wrote about Habersham County, I wondered what the REAL Murphy would be lilke. Then I met Argen as a teacher of my children. And another Hicks family person made a big difference for me. Finally I met the REAL Murphy, and you and your banjo teaching turned my life in another direction. I have loved it all, even though I still do not play as well as I would like. Now your WONDERFUL daughter Casey teaches me during the summers. She is great too.

    Happy Birthday to you and your Dad. Both of you and all of your family are tlruly heroes.

  2. Susan

    happy, Happy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you both!!! What a special honor to be born on your Dad’s birthday and be able to celebrate it together! Enjoy your time with each other and the rest of the family!

  3. Martin Bacon

    Dear Murphy,

    What a wonderful story about your father. I hope you and he had a very special day together.

  4. Patty

    I’m sure your Dad is as proud of you as you are of him:) Cheers and Happy Birthday to both of you.

  5. clay caver

    Happy Birthday Murphy!
    Wow – I never realized we had much in common until reading this post. Like yours, my Dad was also born in 1925 and went into medicine after WWII. I was born in 1953 and considered medicine as a career until I spent a summer on a cousin’s farm – that cured that. Like yours, my Dad has never criticized or belittled my choice of life work.
    Unlike you, I started playing banjo at the age of 50 and am proud to have been one of Casey’s students for two years now – not regular, but dedicated.
    As a parent I think you would like to know that I drive six hours roundtrip to take lessons from Casey – she’s totally worth it.

  6. Ellen

    Hey Murphy,
    Happy birthday to you and your dear Dad! I’ve always loved the stories of your father as a country doctor, because I have imagined him to be like our first pediatrician whose office was in his rural Pennsylvania home. The first time our infant daughter spiked a fever of 104, I panicked. He saw us immediately, gave her a shot, and she was fine by that evening. Kudos to your Dad and to you for ministering to your communities with medicine and with music!

  7. Murphy Henry

    A belated THANK YOU for all the birthday wishes! When I got back from Georgia I hit the ground running and have just surfaced for air! Clay, I loved reading about our commonalities! Years ago, Marshall Wilborn and I were stunned and amazed when we realized that we were born in the same year, that each of us was born on our dad’s birthday and that both of our fathers were doctors. That was all so cool that we decided to celebrate our 50th birthdays together, which we did!

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