Wells - Davidson Band, circa 1979.
Davidson is third from left.
|Born||September 28, 1957|
|Died||May 17, 2008(aged 50)|
|Genres||Rhythm and blues
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Advocate for the Homeless|
|Instruments||saxophone, percussion, vocals|
Margo Isabella Davidson (September 28, 1957 – May 17, 2008) was a founding member of Parachute Club and an advocate for the homeless.
Davidson was born in Simcoe, Ontario and attended Simcoe Composite School where she developed her musical talent. Davidson's father died in 1971; she had one brother and two step-siblings. Her brother David, a trombonist, was also involved in music, as a high school music teacher and performer.
Davidson initially played both piano and saxophone, and was a member of the Simcoe Composite School band. She formed her first music group, a jazz quartet, while a high school student, and played semi-professionally in the Simcoe area.
Davidson was a saxophonist, percussionist and vocalist with The Parachute Club during its entire recording career and period of its greatest international popularity (1982–1989). Following the initial breakup of the band Davidson, with the exception of the occasional guest performance (see below), chose to leave the music business entirely and spent the balance of her life working with organizations dedicated to assisting the homeless.
Davidson arrived in Toronto from Simcoe in 1975, following graduation from Simcoe Composite School. She briefly attended the University of Toronto, and commenced playing with local bands. With Toronto female singer Robin Wells, with whom Davidson had been associated in a previous band, Davidson co-founded The Wells-Davidson Band in 1978, playing rhythm and blues and rock music. The band was distinctive as being one of a minority of bands led by two women. At that time, and through the 1980s, Davidson was also notable as one of very few female saxophonists playing professionally, predating such artists as Candy Dulfer, Katja Rieckermann and Colleen Allen. In terms of the Toronto music scene of the late 1970s, she was a contemporary of Dianne Heatherington, with whom she played on occasion. Davidson later joined Kid Rainbow, a band established by Toronto singer-songwriter Gary O'Connor as a means to promote his songs. She also played in a stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show that toured Toronto and area venues.
Both The Wells-Davidson Band and Kid Rainbow met with a degree of local success though it was after being invited in 1982 to form The Parachute Club that Davidson achieved international fame. As a member of The Parachute Club Davidson was the recipient of two Juno Awards for Most Promising Group of The Year in 1984 and for Group of the Year in 1985. Davidson's role with The Parachute Club was primarily as a musician and harmony vocalist, though she is also the co-writer (with John Oates, Lorraine Segato and Lauri Conger) of "Love Is Fire", the lead single from the band's third album, Small Victories.
Davidson was briefly a member of the well known Toronto band Bratty and The Babysitters, in 1988, when the future of The Parachute Club was uncertain, playing a mix of "rock, reggae calypso, soca, pop and other musical genres". Bratty and the Babysitters disbanded in 1989, the same year that The Parachute Club formally disbanded for the first time, though the latter's last public performances became those at Toronto's Ontario Place in July 1988.
In relation to her decision to leave the music business noted Canadian singer, songwriter and broadcaster Murray McLauchlan commented as follows: "On or off the stage, she was so present. She had a spark. It made me happy to see her. It made me happy to see the obvious joy when she played her horn. I respected her decision to seek other paths but I sure missed seeing her around." Filmmaker and Parachute Club lyricist Lynne Fernie described Davidson as follows: "Margo was one of those rare people gifted with a magnetic stage presence. She touched thousands of people's souls with her extraordinary sax solos when she played with The Parachute Club. And she touched all of us who knew her with her wry humour and dedication to music."
Advocate for the homeless
After the initial breakup of The Parachute Club, followed by her choice to leave the music business, Davidson became a creative writer and a director of St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society, based in Toronto. She was also an outreach worker at Eva's Phoenix, a transitional housing project dedicated to life skills and homeless youth.
In terms of her work on behalf of the homeless, Reverend Brian Burch, President of St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society, commented as follows: "She was an important part of making sure that St. Clare's got off the ground and that our first project, transitional housing at 25 Leonard, came into being. I never heard Margo the musician, but I often heard her laugh and give encouragement when we had to deal with politicians, NIMBY organisations and construction delays....We were fortunate to have as staff and consultants people like...Margo Davidson (yes, the Margo who was part of the Parachute Club), who have poked and prodded us into being a board of management, a challenge given our background in movement activism."
For much of her life, particularly in her latter years, Davidson was profoundly affected by depression and alcoholism. Davidson died in her Toronto home on Saturday, May 17, 2008. Her funeral and interment were in Simcoe on May 23, 2008. Her cause of death was not publicly disclosed, and Davidson left no publicly acknowledged partner.
Following Davidson's death, The Parachute Club released the following statement:
- Margo Davidson: saxophonist, vocalist, percussionst and a unique gentle and friendly human being. Margo brought a charisma and infectious energy to every performance in the years she played with us in The Parachute Club. A multi-talented musician and vocalist, she was a key component of the original band’s sound, one of the wave of talented women musicians who energized downtown Toronto in the early 80s. Her talent and playfulness were instrumental to the musicianship and camaraderie at the heart of the band in its early years. Our sincere condolences to all her family and many friends. She will be missed – and she and her music will be remembered.
|Release date||Title||Chart peak||Album|
|July 1983||"Rise Up"||9||The Parachute Club|
|October 1984||"At The Feet Of The Moon"||11||At The Feet of the Moon|
|February 1985||"Act Of An Innocent"||61|
|June 1985||"Sexual Intelligence"|
|October 1986||"Love Is Fire"||24||Small Victories|
|February 1987||"Love And Compassion"||81|
|May 1987||"Walk To The Rhythm"||90|
|January 1988||"Big Big World"||93||Non-album single|
With The Parachute Club
- 1983 The Parachute Club (Current/RCA)
- 1984 At The Feet of the Moon (Current/RCA)
- 1985 Moving Thru the Moonlight (Current/RCA; remixes)
- 1986 Small Victories (Current/RCA)
- 1992 Wild Zone: The Essential Parachute Club (BMG; Reissued 2006 by EMI International)
- 1979 The Foxrun Band, You're Invited (Ariel Records)
- 1980 Bob Segarini, Goodbye L.A.
- 1984 Gerry Cott (The Boomtown Rats), I Left My Hat In Haiti (Polydor) 
- 1985 Rough Trade, Birds of A Feather: The Best of Rough Trade (True North)
- 1989 Paul James, Rockin' The Blues (Stony Plain Records)
- 1993 The Whiteley Bros. Bluesology: A Journey Through the Blues (Borealis)
- 1997 A Celebration of Blues: Great Slide Guitar (St. Clair)
- See Simcoe Composite School Website; www.simcoesabres.com. See also comments from former classmates Bruce Kendrick and Kim Jenereaux (Cleaver), among others, at Margo Davidson Condolences Guestbook, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe; www.ferrisfuneral.com
- Margo Davidson Obituary, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe; www.ferrisfuneral.com.
- Brassroots, Profile of David Davidson. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Michael Todd, Nice That Way, January 31, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Michael Todd, Place and Time, January 29, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-05
- The band was reconstituted in 2005 and continues to perform: see Parachute Club.
- See Michael Badawoy, Margo Davidson, Juno Award Winner, Dies Archived 2009-07-27 at the Wayback Machine., May 23, 2008; www.cd989.com.
- The band was managed by Derek Andrews, later one of the founders of the Toronto Blues Society. Andrews was also for many years the music programmer at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre. See Discussion of Changes at Harbourfront Centre, October, 2003; www.globalcafe.ca.
- The drummer for the band was Arthur Fogel, who later became a concert promoter and executive with Live Nation Entertainment. See Profile of Arthur Fogel; www.tracked.com. In the infobox band photo, Fogel is second from left. Fogel's career as a music promoter commenced after meeting promoter Dennis Ruffo, who had booked the Wells Davidson Band to perform at an Ottawa venue: Peter Robb, Arthur Fogel's year of living famously. Ottawa Citizen, May 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- Rieckermann is a solo artist and has also been a member of Rod Stewart's band for several years. See Resume of Katja Riekermann; www.katjariekermann.com. One of Davidson's contemporaries was Jane Bunnett, though Bunnett is primarily noted as a soprano saxophonist, playing jazz. Davidson was a tenor saxophonist, playing rock. Another contemporary was Linda Robitaille, saxophonist with Mama Quilla and Mama Quilla II. Robitaille's role as a professional musician appears to have largely ended with the 1982 breakup of Mama Quilla II, following the departure of founding members Lorraine Segato and Lauri Conger to form the Parachute Club.
- Allen was beginning her career in Toronto in the late 1980s, towards the latter part of Davidson's musical career. Davidson replaced Allen in 1988 in the Toronto band Bratty and the Babysitters. Allen went on to work with such artists as Anne Murray, Holly Cole, Shirley Eikhard, Rita MacNeil, Gino Vannelli and Ani Di Franco. She later became a member of Molly Johnson's band and a solo artist. She also succeeded Davidson in later work with Lorraine Segato and The Parachute Club. See Biography of Colleen Allen; www.colleenallen.ca.
- The late Dianne Heatherington (d. 1996), who also led her own band, abandoned the music business in 1987, as would Davidson, two years later. See Dianne Heatherington.
- Small Victories at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Biography of Bratty and The Babysitters". Canadian Pop Encyclopedia.
- Dillon, Charlotte. Biography of Bratty and The Babysitters at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Biography of The Parachute Club". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.
- Margo Davidson Condolences Guestbook, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe, May 27, 2008; www.ferrisfuneral.com.
- Biography of Lynne Fernie Archived 2008-12-30 at the Wayback Machine.; www.glbtq.com.
- Margo Davidson Condolences Guestbook, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe, May 22, 2008; www.ferrisfuneral.com[dead link]
- She was a diabetic from childhood, though it is uncertain as to the degree to which her diabetes influenced her decision to leave the music business.
- See St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society Annual Report 2003 Archived 2011-04-28 at the Wayback Machine. at p. 6. See also Eva's Phoenix and St. Clare's Multifaith Housing Society.
- Margo Davidson Condolences Guestbook, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe, May 22, 2008; www.ferrisfuneral.com.
- Brian Burch, "Direct action includes solving the problem: Some personal reflections", October 29, 2001; www.nucnews.net.
- Comments of David Davidson, brother of Margo Davidson. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- Parachute Club Website/Blog, posting of July 17, 2008, being reprint of entry in Margo Davidson Condolences Guestbook, Ferris Funeral Homes, Simcoe, May 28, 2008, on behalf of Billy Bryans, Dave Gray, Keir Brownstone and Lorraine Segato; www.ferrisfuneral.com.
- Location of Oakwood Cemetery; www.findagrave.com.
- Particulars via www.amazon.com; accessed 09-02-07.
- A label owned by band members James Paul Cassar, Peter Cassar and Timothy Chipman. The Foxrun Band appears to have been a side project to their main band, Darkstar, which released two albums and six singles during the 1977-1981 period. See Canadian Pop Encyclopedia, Biography of Darkstar; www.jam.canoe.ca.
- One song, "It's Christmas", a single included as a bonus track on the CD reissue. See Don't Believe A Word I Say, With Bob Segarini Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.; www.fyimusic.ca. Blog entry of August 19, 2009. Davidson's performance appears to be otherwise uncredited.
- Saxophone on "Alphabet Town". According to a 2001 interview with Gerry Cott, his opportunities in Canada came about via Current Records, which was also the label for The Parachute Club, and CBS Records. See "Interview with Gerry Cott". Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.; www.cyberspace7.btinternet.co.uk.
- Horns on "Insatiable", a track not previously released.
- Composed of licensed recordings previously issued by blues labels such as Alligator, Stony Plain and Blind Pig. Davidson appears on "Red Hot Mama", by Paul James, from his Rockin' The Blues album, originally released by Stony Plain in 1989.