23 January 1932|
Denham, Buckinghamshire, England
|Died||7 January 1964(aged 31)|
|Genres||British blues, Chicago blues, rhythm and blues|
|Years active||Early 1950s–1964|
|Associated acts||Cyril Davies All-Stars, Blues Incorporated, Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner, Screaming Lord Sutch|
Born at St Mildred's, 15 Hawthorn Drive, Willowbank, Denham, Buckinghamshire, near London, he was the son of William Albert Davies, a labourer, and his wife Margaret Mary (née Jones). He had an elder brother named Glyn, and the family is believed to have come from Wales.
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, 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 1962 Davies and Korner hooked up again, and on 17 March 1962 opened the Ealing Club in London. The club became a platform for their band, to which they added bassist Jack Bruce, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith and drummer Charlie Watts and renamed themselves Blues Incorporated. Long John Baldry and Art Woods (brother of Ronnie Wood) also played in the band at some time. In June 1962 they recorded R&B from the Marquee, actually recorded in Decca Records studio. Many young musicians visited the Ealing Club and 'guested' with Blues Incorporated, including Rod Stewart, Paul Jones, Keith Richards, Eric Burdon, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Ginger Baker. Jagger was in the audience for the second night at the club and got up to sing "Got My Mojo Working".
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. The official cause of death was given as endocarditis, although leukemia is often quoted. The core band was taken over by Long John Baldry and formed the basis of his 'Hoochie Coochie Men'.
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