Cyril Davies (1932-1964)

Cyril Davies (1932-1964)

Enkele dagen geleden herdachten we nog de veel te vroeg gestorven Alexis Korner, maar vandaag gaat onze aandacht naar een nog veel eerder verdwenen pionier van de Britse blues. Vandaag is het immers al 55 jaar geleden dat Cyril Davies (foto YouTube), een pionier op het vlak van de bluesharmonica, is overleden aan leukemie.

Cyril Davies began his career in the early 1950s first within Steve Lane’s Southern Stompers, then in 1955 formed an acoustic skiffle and blues group with Alexis Korner. He began as a banjo and 12-string guitar player before becoming a Chicago-style blues harmonica player after hearing Little Walter. Working by day as a panel beater (carrosserieplaatwerker), he ran an unsuccessful skiffle club before meeting Korner, then Davies and Korner opened a London Rhythm and Blues club “England’s Firstest and Bestest Skiffle Club”, later known as the “London Blues and Barrelhouse Club”. Popular with other musicians, the club hosted gigs by blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Memphis Slim.
During this period Davies and Korner worked as session musicians, and often backed Ottilie Patterson during her featured set with husband Chris Barber’s band, using amplified instruments for the first time – which did not go down well with their blues purist audience and many fellow musicians. After closing the blues club, Davies and Korner went their separate ways, and, influenced by Muddy Waters electric sound, Davies formed his own electric blues band.
In 1961, Chris Barber recruited Davies and Korner to play harmonica and electric guitar in accompanying Barber’s band regularly at its Wednesday and Friday night sets at the Marquee Club, a popular London jazz club. This opportunity granted Davies and Korner some exposure to the London music scene, but the duo wished to focus more on blues and R&B. The two decided to found their own rhythm and blues group and, in a show of support, Barber offered them the intermission slot at the Marquee on Wednesday nights.
Korner supplied musicians for the rhythm sections, and Davies recruited Art Wood and Long John Baldry to be the vocalists. They named the group Blues Incorporated, and their initial performances at the Marquee were very well received. However, they realized the need for additional performance opportunities and, since most jazz and folk clubs in London were wary of electric guitars, Davies and Korner decided to found their own club at which they could perform. In 1962 they founded the Ealing Club. The club proved to be a popular sensation and attracted such admirers and future stars as Mick Jagger and Eric Burdon. Jagger was in the audience for the second night at the club and got up to sing “Got My Mojo Working”.
In June 1962 Blues Incorporated recorded “R&B from the Marquee”, actually recorded in Decca Records’ studio. After touring the UK and headlining a residency at the Marquee, by October 1962 there was musical tension in the band as some members wanted to play crowd pleasers like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs while Cyril Davies and others members were blues purists who wanted to play what they saw as only genuine Chicago-style R&B. Following his departure from Blues Incorporated in October 1962, Davies then formed the Cyril Davies All-Stars in November 1962 and recorded five tracks for Pye Records, who had announced an R&B label featuring music imported from Davies’ favourite Chicago musicians (“Country Line Special”, “Chicago Calling”, “Preaching the Blues”, “Sweet Mary” and “Someday Baby”). The original line-up was largely recruited from Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages, and featured both Long John Baldry and Davies on vocals to give Davies room to play harmonica. The band, later known simply as the All-Stars was subject to frequent personnel changes.
After contracting pleurisy in 1963, Davies began to drink heavily to assuage the pain while undergoing a heavy touring schedule. He died in January 1964, after collapsing during an engagement at a night club on Eel Pie Island, Twickenham in London. The official cause of death was given as endocarditis [ontsteking van de hartspier], although leukaemia is often quoted. Long John Baldry besluit Davies’ groep “The R&B All Stars” verder te zetten als “The Hoochie Coochie Men” en vraagt Rod Stewart lid te worden na de fameuze ontmoeting in het station van Twickenham. The rest, as they say, is history… (Wikipedia)

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Robert Johnson (1911-1938)

Robert Johnson (1911-1938)

Het is vandaag al tachtig jaar geleden dat Robert Leroy Johnson, een van de invloedrijkste Amerikaanse bluesartiesten aller tijden, is overleden op 27-jarige leeftijd in de buurt van Greenwood, Mississippi. Na een van zijn optredens zou hij whisky hebben gedronken die met strychnine zou zijn vergiftigd door een jaloerse echtgenoot van een van zijn scharrels. Hij overleed enkele dagen later. Of er wel sprake was van een strychninevergiftiging wordt echter betwijfeld. Officieel is ook niet bekend waar Johnson is begraven. Er komen drie locaties in aanmerking en er bestaan twee verschillende grafstenen, die beide pas veel later zijn geplaatst. Kortom, veel raadsels over een artiest die in zijn eigen nummer “Crossroads” zong dat hij zijn ziel aan de duivel had verkocht om beter gitaar te kunnen spelen. (Wikipedia)
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Christine Perfect wordt 75…

Christine Perfect wordt 75…

Vandaag wordt de Britse zangeres en pianiste Christine Perfect 75 jaar. Ze staat overal nog steeds geboekstaafd als Christine McVie, ook al ligt haar huwelijk met bassist John McVie reeds lang achter de rug. Samen waren zij een koppel in de “Amerikaanse” periode van Fleetwood Mac, maar daaraan voorafgaand had Christine Perfect onder haar eigen naam een volgens mij veel interessanter parcours afgelegd o.m. bij die andere Engelse bluesgroep, Chicken Shack van Stan Webb.
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