Walter Davis (blues)
March 1, 1912|
Grenada, Mississippi, United States
|Died||October 22, 1963
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Years active||Late 1920s–1963|
Davis had a rich singing voice that was as expressive as the best of the Delta blues vocalists. His best-known recording, a version of the train blues standard "Sunnyland Blues", which he released in 1931, is more notable for the warmth and poignancy of his singing than for his piano playing. Two more of his best known songs were "Ashes In My Whiskey" and "Blue Blues".
He was also billed as 'Hooker Joe'.
Davis was born on a farm in Grenada, Mississippi, United States, and ran away from home at about 13 years of age, landing in St. Louis, Missouri. During the period from the late 1920s through the early 1950s he played club dates in the South and the lower Midwest, often with guitarist Henry Townsend and fellow pianist Peetie Wheatstraw, and recorded prolifically. Roosevelt Sykes accompanied him on his first records (1930–33); thereafter he had the ability or confidence to play for himself.
He was among the most productive and popular recording artists in blues, cutting about 180 sides between 1930 and 1952, several of which ("M&O Blues", "Angel Child" and "Come Back Baby") have been taken up by other singers.
Davis appears to have stopped performing professionally around 1953. Suffering from health problems, primarily a stroke, he settled in St. Louis, Missouri, supporting himself as a night clerk at a hotel and as a preacher. He died in St. Louis in 1963, aged 51.
In October 2012 the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit organization, placed a headstone on Davis's unmarked grave at Greenwood Cemetery in Hillsdale, Missouri. The stone was unveiled at the 2012 Big Muddy Blues Festival in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Dead Rock Stars website details for birth and death details - accessed February 2008
- Barlow, William (1989). "Looking Up At Down": The Emergence of Blues Culture, pp. 257-58. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-583-4.
- Birthplaces of Mississippi Blues Stars website - accessed February 2008
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 106. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Allmusic biography
- Walter Davis (blues) at Find a Grave
- Works by or about Walter Davis (blues) in libraries (WorldCat catalog)