Cyril Davies Biography
Died: 7th January 1964.
British blues harp-player, guitarist and banjo player and one of the pioneers of 'electric blues' in the UK in the early 1960's.
Cyril Davies, in unison with Alexis Korner, was a kingpin in the founding and promotion in the UK of the modern electric blues and the fusions that were to follow into the 1970's. Whilst Davies was a Chicago Blues purist at heart, which finally led to his separation from Korner, his work had a vital influence on many of the musicians and 'guitar heros' of later years. The Kinks, The Stones, Pete Townshend, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, John Baldry, Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Rod Stewart, Ritchie Blackmore... the list is vast. All had gained inspiration from witnessing Davies' sessions at either Soho's 'Round House', the Marquee or the hotbed of rhythm & blues fusion, the Ealing Club, in which he partnered Korner in ownership.
By January 1962 Davies and Korner had formed "Blues Incorporated", a band which became a 'moveable feast' for a raft of budding UK blues musicians. A format that spawned a matrix for bands such as The Bluesbreakers, the Organisation, Steampacket, or Colosseum. Although it is hard to imagine today, this band helped pioneer the concept of using amplifiers and their consequent effects on-stage. As time progressed Davies found himself at odds with the many styles and jazz influences the band had adopted. By the following year he had left "Blues Inc" and formed "Cyril Davies And His Rhythm And Blues All Stars", moving away from his early teenage influences of Huddie Ledbetter and into modern renditions in a Chicago Blues style. With Davies on harmonica, 12-string acoustic or banjo, his early band line-up was Carlo Little [Drums], Ricky Brown (2) [aka Fenson, Bass], Nicky Hopkins [Piano] and Jimmy Page [aka Price, Guitar]. Page's position was short-lived, as he became involved in session work, and he was replaced by ex-Savages guitarist Bernie Watson.
The group took up residency at the Marquee in 1963, with Long John Baldry added on vocals. The band's stage presentation was also swelled by the inclusion of the vocal backing group "The Velvettes" with Peggy Phango, a trio that had finished touring a UK production of "King Kong". The band released their first single "Country Line Special" in February 1963. A number of further recordings were made before Davies tragically died a year later, just before his 32nd birthday.
The name and format of the band continued under the aegis of Long John Baldry for a while and eventually evolved into "The Hoochie Coochie Men".