Little Sammy Davis
|Little Sammy Davis|
Little Sammy Davis, 2008
|Also known as||Little Sam Davis|
28 November 1928 |
Winona, Mississippi, United States
|Genres||Blues, blues rock|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, record producer|
|Years active||1940s - present|
|Labels||Delmark Records, Trix Records, Rockin' Records|
|Associated acts||Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, Albert King, Levon Helm Band|
Little Sammy Davis (born November 28, 1928) is an American blues musician based in New York's Hudson Valley. Although his musical career began in the 1940s, he was not widely known until the mid-1990s when he began working in radio, singing, playing live on tour, and recording studio albums.
Early life and career
Born in Winona, Mississippi, United States, and raised in a one-room shack, Davis learned to play the harmonica at the age of eight. He eventually left home and settled in Florida, where he continued to play the blues in the Miami area while working in orange groves and saw mills to make ends meet.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Davis traveled with medicine shows and played with blues musicians like Pine Top Perkins, and Ike Turner. He spent a total of nine years on the road with Earl Hooker, including with the short-lived band of Hooker and Albert King, and recorded four sides for Rockin' Records in 1952 and 1953 (as Little Sam Davis).
In the late 1950s, Davis lived in Chicago, Illinois, performing with Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed. He later married and settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, during which time he recorded a session for Trix Records that resulted in one "45" single. After the sudden death of his wife in 1970, Davis stopped playing and dropped out of the music scene for the next two decades.
In 1990, local DJ Doug Price spotted Davis playing harmonica in a Poughkeepsie barber shop. Price made mention of Davis's story and played some of his old recordings on WVKR, which in turn caught the attention of radio personality Don Imus. Imus invited Davis to perform on his show with guitarist Fred Scribner, and "Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim" became the house band for Imus in the Morning for years to come. Imus, in his trademark style, later quipped that Davis had "more harmonicas than teeth".
Capitalizing on this Imus fame, Little Sammy Davis and Midnight Slim toured radio and television stations around the United States. In 1996 Davis released his first full-length album, I Ain't Lyin, for Delmark Records. The record was nominated for a W. C. Handy Award and earned Davis a "comeback artist of the year award" from Living Blues magazine. Davis and Scribner released a second album, Ten Years and Forty Days, in 2000.
In 2002 Arlen Tarlofsky produced and directed a documentary entitled, "Little Sammy Davis". The movie is a musical documentary that looks into the life and music of Sammy Davis. The documentary was the Jury Selection at the London Film Festival and the Woodstock International Film Festival, and it won the Audience Recognition Award at The AFI/SILVERDOCS Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival.
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