Saturday, April 3, 2010

Forgotten history: Walter Davis.

There are many errors and in blues music histories and biographies. Faulty and incomplete  research is one problem but the old concept that all blues came from the delta of the Mississippi river is often the reason for false assumptions.

For example, Walter Davis was one of the most successful blues pianomen of the 1930s. His career was one of the longest of the bluesmen spanning over twenty years and well over a hundred recording releases.

Davis made his home and career in St. Louis, Missouri. He hardly traveled beyond the area, except to the various studios for recording sessions. Although his entire career was in St. Louis, the Wikipedia entry says that after a stroke in the 1950s, "he settled in St. Louis." The biography continues to assume that Davis lived elsewhere until his death, saying, "The exact place of his death is uncertain, although it is thought to be St. Louis.
There are a number of errors and assumptions about Davis in this bio, but the truth is that Walter Davis' music was a large part of the prime of the St. Louis blues and his work contributed to the sounds and styles from the city. Forty years after his death, ( yes, he died in the 1960s in St Louis and he is buried in St. Louis) he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Walter Davis is one of the many examples of St Louis' blues heritage of creativity, professionalism and popularity. And his inaccurate biography that remains is a prime example of the forgotten real blues and where it actually came from. The book Devil At The Confluence explores the overlooked and misunderstood music legacy of St Louis.

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