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Jesse Edwin Davis
|Birth name||Jesse Edwin Davis III|
|Born||21 September 1944|
Norman, Oklahoma, United States
|Died||22 June 1988 (aged 43)|
Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States
|Occupation(s)||Session musician, Sideman|
|Instruments||Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, Slide guitar|
|Associated acts||Taj Mahal, Gene Clark, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Jackson Browne, John Lee Hooker|
Jesse Edwin Davis (September 21, 1944 – June 22, 1988) was a Native American guitarist. He was well regarded as a session artist and solo performer, was a member of Taj Mahal's backing band and played with musicians such as Eric Clapton, John Lennon, and George Harrison. In 2018, Davis was posthumously inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual Native American Music Awards Native American Music Hall of Fame.
Early life and education
Davis was born in Norman, Oklahoma. His father, Jesse Ed Davis II, was Comanche, and his mother's side was Kiowa. His father was an accomplished painter in the "flat-style" tradition of Southern Plains painting; his works were exhibited in the state capitol in Oklahoma City.
Davis began his musical career in the late 1950s in Oklahoma City and surrounding cities with John Ware (later a drummer for Emmylou Harris), John Selk (later a bass player for Donovan), Jerry Fisher (later a vocalist with Blood, Sweat & Tears), Mike Boyle, Chris Frederickson, drummer Bill Maxwell (later with Andrae Crouch and Koinonia) and others.
He graduated from Northeast High School in 1962. Davis graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma; even into his later years, he was remembered to enjoy quoting Socrates and Plato. By the mid-1960s, he had quit school and went touring with Conway Twitty.
Davis eventually moved to California. For eight years, he lived in Marina del Rey with his companion, Patti Daley, and her son, Billy. Through his friendship with Levon Helm, he became friends with Leon Russell, who introduced him to recording session work.
Davis joined Taj Mahal and played guitar and piano on Mahal's first three albums. He played slide, lead and rhythm, country and even jazz during his three-year stint with Mahal. Mahal and his band were invited to England by the Rolling Stones, and they appeared as a musical guest in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.
After Mahal's 1969 album Giant Step, Davis turned to session work for David Cassidy, Albert King, Willie Nelson and others. In 1970, he played on and produced Roger Tillison's only album for Atco Records, a division of Atlantic. Davis and Tillison − both Oklahoman − were joined at the Record Plant by Bobby Bruce (fiddle), Larry Knechtel (organ and harmonica), Stan Szelest (piano); Billy Rich (bass); Jim Keltner (drums) and Sandy Konikoff (percussion); Don Preston and Joey Cooper were vocal accompanists. Roger Tillison's Album was recorded live. It was finally released on CD by Wounded Bird Records in 2008, with Davis playing electric guitar, bottleneck (slide) guitar and banjo. The Woody Guthrie song "Old Cracked Looking Glass" has become a standard for Oklahoma bands.
In 1971, Davis recorded his first solo album after Atco Records signed a contract with him to record two albums with the label. The first was the album ¡Jesse Davis! (1971), which featured backing vocals by Gram Parsons and performances by Leon Russell and Eric Clapton, among others.
Davis was close friends with Gene Clark. In 1971, he played on and produced Clark's second solo album, White Light, and provided lead guitar on Clark's album No Other in 1974. On Jackson Browne's 1972 debut album, Davis played the electric guitar solo on Browne's hit song "Doctor, My Eyes".
After guesting with Russell on Bob Dylan's 1971 single "Watching the River Flow", Davis went on to work with George Harrison, performing at the ex-Beatle's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, along with Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Russell, Keltner, Clapton and others.
Two more solo albums followed: in 1972 Ululu, which included the original release of Harrison's "Sue Me, Sue You Blues", and in 1973 Keep Me Comin, occasionally listed as Keep On Coming. Around this time, Davis began playing with John Lennon, for whom he played lead guitar on the albums Walls and Bridges (1974) and Rock 'n' Roll (1975). In addition, Davis was a guest performer on other albums by former Beatles: Harrison's Extra Texture (1975) and Starr's Goodnight Vienna (1974) and Ringo's Rotogravure (1976).
After the Faces tour, Davis continued to work as a session player. In addition to the artists listed above, Davis contributed to albums by Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Keith Moon, Steve Miller, Guthrie Thomas, Harry Nilsson, Ry Cooder, Neil Diamond, Rick Danko, Van Dyke Parks and others. He played on Leonard Cohen's Death of a Ladies' Man (1977), produced by Phil Spector.
In 1977, he moved to Hawaii; In 1981, he returned to Los Angeles "broke and ravaged by drug and alcohol addiction". In and out of clinics, Davis disappeared from the music industry for a time, spending much of the 1980s dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Throughout the ten years he was with Patti Daley, they never married. In the following years he married twice. While married to his second wife, in 1985 he formed and played in the Graffiti Band, which coupled his music with the poetry of the Native American activist John Trudell (American Indian Movement). The result of this collaboration was the album, released initially only on cassette, called "AKA Grafitti Man", which Bob Dylan called the best album of the year.
In the spring of 1987, the Graffiti Band performed with Taj Mahal at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood, California. At this show, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and John Fogerty got up from the audience to join Davis and Mahal in an unrehearsed set which included Fogerty's "Proud Mary" and Dylan's "Watching the River Flow", as well as classics such as "Blue Suede Shoes", "Peggy Sue", "Honey Don't", "Matchbox" and "Gone, Gone, Gone".
Davis collapsed in the laundry room of an apartment building and was pronounced dead in Venice, California, on June 22, 1988. Police stated his death appeared to be the result of a drug overdose. Davis had a fresh needle mark on one arm and burned matches and tin foil were scattered on the ground nearby  He was 43 years old.
In 2002, he was posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
In 2018, Jesse Ed Davis was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual Native American Music Awards. A performance tribute was held by his former Graffiti band members, Mark Shark and Quiltman. His cousins Richenda Davis Bates and Constance Jean Carter were in attendance.
With Junior Markham & The Tulsa Review
- "Let 'em Roll Johnny / Operator Operator" (Uptown Records, 1967)
- "Black Cherry / Gonna Send You Back to Georgia" (Uptown Records, 1967)
With Taj Mahal
- Taj Mahal (Columbia Records, 1968)
- The Natch'l Blues (Columbia Records, 1968)
- Giant Step (Columbia Records, 1969)
- The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (ABKCO Records, 1996)
- ¡Jesse Davis! (Atco Records, 1971)
- Ululu (Atco Records, 1972)
- Keep Me Comin or Keep On Coming (Epic Records, 1973)
- Bonus Record (An exclusive interview in Los Angeles with KMET-FM's B. Mitchel Reed - Jesse "Ed" Davis talks about his background, his music and his new album, Epic Records, 1973)
- Daughters of Albion - Daughters of Albion (1968)
- Look Inside the Asylum Choir - The Asylum Choir (1968)
- Live at Bill Graham's Fillmore West - various artists (1969)
- "Watching the River Flow / Spanish is the Loving Tongue" - Bob Dylan (1971)
- Roger Tillison's Album - Roger Tillison (1971)
- Minnows - Marc Benno (1971)
- Feel Your Groove - Ben Sidran (1971)
- There's Gotta Be a Change - Albert Collins (1971)
- Booker T. & Priscilla - Booker T. & Priscilla (1971)
- Warm Waters - Charles Lloyd (1971)
- Happy Just to Be Like I Am - Taj Mahal (1971)
- She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina - Buffy Sainte-Marie (1971)
- Leon Russell and the Shelter People - Leon Russell (1971)
- Asylum Choir II - The Asylum Choir (1971)
- Endless Boogie - John Lee Hooker (1971)
- Lovejoy - Albert King (1971)
- White Light - Gene Clark (1971)
- The Concert for Bangladesh - George Harrison & Friends (1971)
- Ambush - Marc Benno (1972)
- Out the Window - Jim Pulte (1972)
- Salty - Alex Richman (1972)
- L.A. Midnight - B.B. King (1972)
- Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne (1972)
- Recall the Beginning...A Journey from Eden - Steve Miller Band (1972)
- Rod Taylor - Rod Taylor (1973)
- These Foolish Things - Bryan Ferry (1973)
- Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys - Arlo Guthrie (1973)
- Home at Last - Wayne Berry (1974)
- Arlo Guthrie - Arlo Guthrie (1974)
- L.A. Turnaround - Bert Jansch (1974)
- No Other - Gene Clark (1974)
- Walls and Bridges - John Lennon (1974)
- A Toot and a Snore in '74 - John Lennon, Paul McCartney (bootleg, 1974)
- Goodnight Vienna - Ringo Starr (1974)
- Pussy Cats - Harry Nilsson (1974)
- That's a Plenty - Pointer Sisters (1974)
- ST11261 - Brewer & Shipley (1974)
- Burnin' Thing - Mac Davis (1975)
- The Eyes of an Only Child - Tom Jans (1975)
- See How the Years Have Gone By - Valdy (1975)
- Stars - Cher (1975)
- Two Sides of the Moon - Keith Moon (1975)
- Extra Texture (Read All About It) - George Harrison (1975)
- Rock 'n' Roll - John Lennon (1975)
- Duit on Mon Dei - Harry Nilsson (1975)
- Born to Be with You - Dion (1975)
- New Arrangement - Jackie DeShannon (1975)
- Earthbound - The 5th Dimension (1975)
- Midnight on the Water - David Bromberg Band (1975)
- Atlantic Crossing - Rod Stewart (1975)
- A Night on the Town - Rod Stewart (1976)
- Sandman - Harry Nilsson (1976)
- Diggin' It - Dunn & Rubini (1976)
- Cupid's Arrow - David Blue (1976)
- Welcome to Club Casablanca - Long John Baldry (1976)
- Time Is on My Side - Tracy Nelson (1976)
- Motion - Geoff Muldaur (1976)
- Attitudes - Attitudes (1976)
- Home Is Where the Heart Is - David Cassidy (1976)
- Beautiful Noise - Neil Diamond (1976)
- Slow Down World - Donovan (1976)
- No Reason to Cry - Eric Clapton (1976)
- Ringo's Rotogravure - Ringo Starr (1976)
- Clang of the Yankee Reaper - Van Dyke Parks (1976)
- Death of a Ladies' Man - Leonard Cohen (1977)
- Blue Collar (soundtrack) - with Captain Beefheart and Jack Nitzsche (1978)
- A Little Kiss in the Night - Ben Sidran (1978)
- The Legend of Jesse James - various artists (1980)
- Kent State (soundtrack) - various artists (1981)
- Hobo Eagle Thief - Guthrie Thomas (1983)
- AKA Graffiti Man - John Trudell (1986)
- Heart Jump Bouquet - John Trudell (1987)
- Taj - Taj Mahal (1987)
- Slide of Hand - Scott Colby (1987)
- It's a Sin to Be Rich - Lightnin' Hopkins (1992, recorded in 1972)
- "1000 Dollar Wedding" and "Hot Burrito #1" - Gram Parsons (1992, Extended play side B only, recorded in 1971)
- Simmonds, Jeremy. The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches. p. 235.
- MARK ARAX and PAUL FELDMAN OBITUARIES : Backed Up Major Artists : Jesse Ed Davis, 43; Noted Rock Guitarist, June 24, 1988. Los Angeles Times
- Documentary film, Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, 2017
- "Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, The (1995) - Full Credits - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
- "The George Harrison Bangla Desh Benefit". Rolling Stone. 2 September 1971. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
- John Trudell, John Trudell Archives Re-releases The Critically Acclaimed Aka Grafitti Man, March 21, 2017
- "Drug Overdose Blamed In Death of Guitarist". The Oklahoman. July 25, 1988. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
- Jas Obrecht Jesse Ed Davis: “I Just Play the Notes That Sound Good” 2010 Jas Obrecht Music ARCHIVE.
- Dan Forte Jesse Ed Davis: Guitar Hero's Guitar Hero August 2005 Vintage Guitar (magazine).