Cow Cow Davenport

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Cow Cow Davenport
Cow Cow Davenport.png
Background information
Birth name Charles Edward Davenport
Born (1894-04-23)April 23, 1894
Anniston, Alabama, United States
Died December 12, 1955(1955-12-12) (aged 61)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Boogie-woogie, piano blues, vaudeville
Occupation(s) Pianist, singer
Instruments Piano, vocal
Years active 1910s to 1955
Labels Vocalion
Associated acts Dora Carr

Charles Edward "Cow Cow" Davenport (April 23, 1894 – December 3, 1955[1]) was an American boogie-woogie and piano blues player as well as a vaudeville entertainer. He also played the organ and sang.


He was born in Anniston, Alabama, one of eight children. Davenport started playing the piano at age 12. His father objected strongly to his musical aspirations and sent him to a theological seminary, where he was expelled for playing ragtime.[2]

Davenport's career began in the 1920s when he joined Banhoof's Traveling Carnival, a medicine show. His first fame came as accompanist to blues musicians Dora Carr and Ivy Smith. Davenport and Carr performed as a vaudeville act as Davenport & Co, and he performed with Smith as the "Chicago Steppers".[3][4] He also performed with Tampa Red. Davenport recorded for many record labels, and was a talent scout and artist for Vocalion Records. Davenport suffered a stroke in the early 1930s and lost movement in his hands. He was washing dishes when he was found by the jazz pianist Art Hodes in 1938. Hodes assisted in his rehabilitation and helped him find new recording contracts.

His best-known tune was "Cow Cow Blues". The "Cow Cow" in the title referred to a train's cowcatcher. The popularity of the song gave Davenport the nickname "Cow Cow."[4] In 1953, "Cow Cow Blues" was an influence on the Ahmet Ertegün-written "Mess Around" by Ray Charles, which was Charles's first step away from his Nat "King" Cole-esque style, and into the style he would employ throughout the 1950s for Atlantic Records.

"Cow-Cow Boogie (Cuma-Ti-Yi-Yi-Ay)" (1943) was probably named for him, but he did not write it. It was penned by Benny Carter, Gene de Paul and Don Raye. It combined the then popular "Western song" craze (exemplified by Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand") with the big-band boogie-woogie fad. The track was written for the Abbott and Costello film Ride 'Em Cowboy.

Davenport claimed to have been the composer of "Mama Don't Allow It". He also said he had written the Louis Armstrong hit "I'll be Glad When You're Dead (You Rascal You)", but sold the rights and credit to others.[1]

Cow Cow was known to have made recordings under the pseudonyms of Bat The Humming Bird, George Hamilton and The Georgia Grinder.[3]

Cow Cow Davenport, who died in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, of hardening of the arteries,[1] is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Cripple Clarence Lofton called him a major influence.

He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Bedford Heights, Ohio.[5]


  • 1976 - "Cow Cow Blues", in Vocalion 1928-1930 'shake your wicked knees' (The Piano Blues Vol. 3), Magpie Records, Magpie PY 4403
  • 1979 - Cow Cow Davenport: Alabama Strut, Magpie Records, Magpie PY 1814
  • 1979 - Cow Cow Blues, Oldie Blues, OL 2811

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Allmusic biography
  2. ^ Silvester, Peter J. The Story of Boogie-Woogie: A Left Hand Like God. Scarecrow Press. pp. 64–68. ISBN 9780810869332. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Olderen, Martin van, Cow Cow Blues, liner notes, Oldie Blues OL 2811, 1979
  4. ^ a b Komara, Edward. Encyclopedia of the Blues. Psychology Press. p. 234. ISBN 9780415926997. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  5. ^ City of Bedford Heights - Famous folks.