Blind John Davis

Decades: 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


John Henry Davis, 7 December 1913, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA, d. 12 October 1985, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Davis taught himself piano after being blinded in 1923, and led his own six-piece band for 15 years from 1938. He professed not to care for blues, but his fame rests on the hundreds of blues accompaniments he recorded during the late 30s and early 40s. Among those who used him were ‘Big’ Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red and Peter J. Clayton. Usually he worked in a small band setting, where his generally unspectacular playing would sometimes show a quiet inventiveness. His self-accompanied 1938 vocal recordings are mediocre, but his back-up work, with its rolling right hand figures, was both immediately recognizable and creatively varied.

In the post-war years, Davis was an early visitor to Europe, recording two albums in Paris in 1952, revealing a personal taste for songs such as ‘O Sole Mio’ and ‘Lady Be Good’....

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