Wild Bill Davison Biography

William Edward Davison, 5 January 1906, Defiance, Ohio, USA, d. 14 November 1989, Santa Barbara, California, USA. As a youth Davison played with local bands, making occasional trips to Cincinnati and even New York in the mid-20s. While playing with the Seattle Harmony Kings, Davison made his first visit to Chicago, the city where he was to remain stylistically linked for the rest of his long life. This first visit to Chicago lasted five years; then, after a spell of band leading with Frank Teschemacher, he worked in Milwaukee for several years, and, from 1941, played mostly in New York. For the next few years, broken only by military service during World War II, he was a regular at the city’s popular dixieland clubs, including Nick’s, Ryan’s and Condon’s. With Eddie Condon, Davison made numerous recordings and also toured Europe. In the 60s he divided his time between jobs on the east and west coasts, recording and touring, often as a single, but sometimes in harness with some of his old musical comrades.

A tough-talking, hard-drinking in his younger days, and driving cornetist, Davison’s aggressive playing won him a host of admirers and was viewed by many as the epitome of Chicago style. In fact, as can be seen from his career summary, Davison’s connection with Chicago was assumed rather than real. Although his rasping, forceful sound, replete with searing rips and flares, was most readily appropriate to the traditional repertoire, he had a fine way with ballads, and an album he recorded with strings late in his career showed him to have a warm-hearted, almost rhapsodic side to his personality. Remarkably, Davison retained his playing ability into old age and still practised daily when in his eighties.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

Filter Results