Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp Pioneer
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May 26, 2006 - It would please me to see your honest opinions here as well as any additional information you might supply. Many thanks. Todd
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November 21, 2008 - Jon Cross - Nottinghamshire, UK - As a former resident of Willowbank I have a few memories to share with your viewers. I was born in Banbury, Oxon in 1942 and my mother ran a refugee hostel in Banbury for, mainly, Polish refugees. They had originally lived on Willowbank but moved out during the early part of the war. My mother ran the hostel while my dad was away. In 1944 we moved back there to No. 39 Willow Crescent East and I was to remain there until I got married in 1967. I can remember seeing searchlights and hearing gunfire but that is about all. The flood I can remember well as it was such an unusual sight to see rowing boats coming down between the houses! There was a real community spirit there then and almost everybody on the estate new everyone else from one end to the other, if not to pass time with, everyone was on a greeting terms. I doubt it's like that now! Probably most of them don't know who lives 3 doors away! As to the old bungalow at 15 Hawthorn Drive, I remember it well as I went to school with the two lads, Michael and Ian, who lived there. Their father, Leslie, was a friend of my father as they were both local journalists and incidentally both had the same Christian name. Michael is still with us but sadly Ian, who was the younger, died some years ago. I do not know the date that their father died but I seem to remember it was rather earlier than stated on the Cyril Davies page (I could be wrong of course). I can still see the inside of 15 Hawthorn Drive and I'm pretty sure I could draw a schematic of it if I tried. I spent quite a lot of time there as I was a pal, more of Ian's, than his elder brother although we all got on very well. I had never heard of Cyril until a friend sent me the link to this site but I used to work at Rank Film Labs at Higher Denham and my wife used to work for Roger Moore and we regularly saw other well known people around the area. Seeing the photo of the Post Box at the junction of Willow Avenue with Willow Crescent East and Willow Crescent West reminded me that there used to be just such a lamp there and we used to meet there regularly. Wish we all had that community spirit now, things might be quite different.
November 14, 2008 - Brian Wilkins - Birmingham, UK - I was born 1947 and got into blues at a early age; I played in a band called The Trekkers in the 60's and I used some of Cyril's stuff like 'Preaching the Blues' in our act. I admired him…still do.
November 5, 2008 - Jim Davies - Ashford, UK - I was born in 1947 and didn't know much about R & B, though I suppose there must have been some in the West Riding where I grew up. Somehow I got to hear Cyril Davies and he's stayed with me as an influence even though I now play my mouth organ in a folk band. He put me toward the instrument, so when Bob Dylan came along, I was already playing mouth organ, and so got gold stars from musos at school. They said I didn't play it properly though, because I didn't play it like Big Bob. What did they know? Great to hear that Cyril Davies is still remembered…and he has a wonderful surname!
August 8, 2008 - Andy Myers - Columbus, Ohio - I had the good luck to have produced a show with Long John Baldry here in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. The show was Johns last live show in the USA. Please go to youtube to view 4 videos from the show. I first listened to John on the, 'It Ain't Easy' album, when I was a kid and it stuck. In 2003 I searched the internet for John and found he was coming to the states to play and his last time here was 30 years before which he mentions on the video. There is much more to tell but I will save that for later. Cheers.
July 14, 2008 - Tony Hickman - Rugeley - UK - I never had the pleasure of seeing Cyril Davies live but my admiration began in the sixties and a confirmed Dylan nut I was sent down from Glasgow to Southampton to start my apprenticeship in Marine Engineering. Whilst there I drifted into the Concorde Club in Southampton where I heard Rhythm & Blues for the first time live. Manfred Mann being the group and I bought a copy of their first disc called 'Why Should We Not'. Instantly I went overboard with this for me a new and amazing sound. I was there for two years and before going to sea a friend gave me a few discs one of which with a well worn sleeve and judging by the title didn't really encourage me to play it urgently. I played it one night alone in my cabin at full chuff and it totally and utterly blew my mind. Of course it was the EP of Cyril Davies containing 'Country Line Special' and 'Chicago Calling'. I lost it unfortunately at sea and made numerous attempts to replace it with no success. I never forgot and always dreamed of the replacement. Forty two years later and into my first computer I struck gold. Although I had two tracks of his on 'The Intermediate Blues', from Magpie Music - it didn't contain 'the one'. One Sunday morning trawling a new site and doing what I'd done for five years on every site there they were to download 'Country Line Special' & 'Chicago Calling'. My whoops of glee circa 07:00 Hrs almost created a sonic boom around my flat. I am disappointed that 'Preaching The Blues' will now not be available but a big thank you for this site Regards to all…
July 12, 2008 - Lawrie Taylor - Chippenham, UK - I saw Cyril only once, at Reading Town Hall in the early sixties. I went with a group of school friends and we were all very much in to Blues and Jazz. We thought that Cyril was amazing. During his performance a young man with lots of hair and wearing a tartan jacket sat at the back of the stage. At the interval Cyril said that this young man would entertain us in his absence. It was not until many years later, unless my memory is playing tricks, I realised this young man was Rod Stewart. I couldn't afford Cyril's EP containing 'Country Line Special', 'Chicago Calling', etc at the time but I kick myself now as virtually none of Cyril's recordings are readily available. I moved to London not long afterwards and I actually lived in Soho, but I never had the money or the time to visit the Marquee and other venues, only a few minutes walk away, and by the time I did, it was too late as poor Cyril had died. I cannot understand how the work of such an influential musician has not been reproduced. Nor can I believe that his 'Country Line Special', which is so highly regarded is not available on CD even as part of a compilation of British R & B of that era…such a shame.
July 1, 2008 - Mark Freeman - London, U.K. - Your site is excellent! I found Rick Brown's comments interesting - he came to the first rehearsals for the latest Mickey Waller Group that I played guitar and sang in - I had seen him playing with Carlo Little and Art Wood when they were both alive, at the revived Eel Pie Club and thought how good he was on the bass. There was some issue with smoking between him and Mickey (I think Rick had given up and Mickey certainly hadn't!) anyway, that was the last I saw of Rick but I liked him as a person and a player. I had always suspected that Mickey hung out quite a lot at Olympic Studios and Morgan Studios too; with his amazing memory and ability, he could probably step in quite quickly if a drummer was having trouble with a track! The Cyril Davies connection is great - I always got the impression that Art thought a lot of Cyril Davies too. I also played drums for Art's 'All Stars' over the last few years, when Mick Avory was away with the 'Castaway Kinks'. Mickey was always there and occasionally got up for one song and Art would reciprocate at our gigs too. One of Art's favourite stories was him riding his Ariel Huntsman motorcycle with Alexis Korner on the back seat and Cyril Davies in the side car to go and persuade the Ealing Jazz Club to let them have a regular Rhythm'n Blues night there - as you will be aware they succeeded! Lots of stories and I am sure we will have more communication.
No site yet, but there are a couple of tracks (a bit rough video, but watchable) as Mickey Waller All Stars, now on You Tube - The tracks are: 'Hootchie Kootchie Man' and 'Mojo', both with Mickey & Art - Hope you enjoy them!
July 1, 2008 - Roger Lewis - UK - I didn't know Cyril personally. I used to watch Cyril and the
All Stars at the Golders Green Refectory in the early 60s. It was a long dance floor with a small stage on one of the sides rather than at the end. Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry sat round a table near the stage waiting to go on. I was a drummer in a beat band at the time learning to play blues harmonica on the side. I used to watch him in awe and wonder: the nearest thing to Little Walter this side of the Pond. For a while the All Stars had backing singers: Peggy Phango's Velvettes from the South African musical 'King Kong'. When I lived in Islington I knew Louise, who was one of Peggy Velvette's and a jazz standards singer who performed around the pubs and clubs.
June 29, 2008 - Mel Wright - Would you kindly let me know of any news of future Cyril Davies events and record releases? I missed the Tufnell Park event and would really like the opportunity to see the films that were on the programme.
June 25, 2008 - Ian Maund - Great Cyril Davies site! I'd like to do a short piece on my site about it for the beginning of August and a link so people can visit and/or contribute
- ed: UPDATE! www.sandybrownjazz.co.uk/whatsnew.html. Hopefully we can keep in touch and I can keep people updated on your progress.
June 23, 2008 - Trevor Duplock - U.K. - We collectively have many memories of Cyril Davies, we saw him several times at the Florida Rooms and at the Marquee, a wonderful player and the All Stars…an amazing band. The first time I saw them in Brighton I was sixteen and they totally blew us away! I was in a band with Carlo Little in the early seventies. I wanted to ask you, if I can dig out the copies of the original local ads for Cyril at the Florida Rooms would you like to see them? I think I copied them when we were researching stuff for our site. The 'all-nite rave' I first saw the All Stars at is still one of the greatest performances I have ever seen or heard by anyone anywhere! I will be speaking to Roy (Hatley) in a couple of hours. We will also mail out to all the musicians we have contact with from the sixties informing them of your excellent site. We have a great harmonica player in our midst: Andy McKechnie, you can here him in the Shelley section if you have your speakers connected - www.brightonbeat.com
June 26, 2008 - Chris Oxley - I'm a 40-something average rock/blues/soul anorak who thought I understood how pop & rock came about in the 60s, and where its influences came from. About five years ago, through good old Napster, I heard 'Country Line Special' and it blew me away. I checked out Carlo Little's site (the only source on Cyril then) and a complete missing chapter of British musical history became clear to me. There should be a statue of Cyril outside Buckingham Palace!
June 12, 2008 - Robin Piggott - Limerick, Ireland - What a great project you have undertaken and I wish you well with your site. If I wasn't so busy with survival myself I would be spending more time doing what you are doing! Guess you could say I am livin' the Blues. I have penned a few musical articles which are on but have many more in my head.
All the Bands that I saw in London were at the Marquee in Wardour Street. Spent some time two years ago trying to find the building but the street had changed quite a lot and most enquiries led to blank stares. Unfortunately I was not in a position to see Blues Incorporated live with Cyril who died in '63 I think? I hate to admit it but I can't remember whether or not I saw the band at the Marquee. I am getting conflicting memories of the Graham Bond Organisation who I saw live several times. I know I remember Dick Heckstall- Smith (who died recently) and the wild man of the skins Ginger Baker; Dick played with Blues Incorporated, I know - I remember Dick Heckstall-Smiths footwear well...kind of like a 60's version of the fashion UGG boots so prevalent today. I also remember Graham's Hammond Organ practically launching itself off the stage as he pounded the keyboard. My love was for the guitar (and still is) so most of the other instruments only got a cursory glance from me.
It was a really magical time for the Blues. I feel privileged to have seen and experienced some of the greats in the flesh. I was just watching a fishing documentary last night which featured Eric Clapton and am lucky to be seeing him live in Dublin this coming weekend. Imagine my disgust when after queuing for an hour to get in one night in 1965 - I was working and living in London) - to see Eric and the Yardbirds for the first time and there was no sign of E.C.! He had just left the band for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and had been replaced by Jeff Beck. It was a great gig and set me on the road to becoming a blues fanatic. Keith Relf was a real hard working vocalist and the band were tight and absolutely electric!
I just made a list out of all the bands I have seen over the years and its quite lengthy. This might just get me galvanized into writing about them. Very best wishes and continued success with the project. Well dons, Robin
June 11, 2008 - Ian Whitcomb - California, U.S.A. - Dear Todd, thanks for your letter. Yes, I saw Cyril Davies in person at the Ealing Club around 1962-63. He was playing with Alexis Korner. I remember him as a fat and jolly Pickwickian type who should have been carrying on the great tradition of British music Hall songs on the lines of 'Boiled Beef And Carrots'. Instead he chose, like so many of us, to imitate black performers, thus carrying on the great tradition of Al Jolson. Still, I, being a British blues neophyte and a fan of all things black and exotic, was entranced and excited by Cyril and the band. You see, I hadn't yet visited America and supped at the source. I was though a little nonplused, at the Ealing Club, when, after being asked his opinion of Buddy Guy (or was it Muddy Waters? They all get mixed up in my addled brain) he replied: "He's ridiculous! Rid-ic-ul-ous!". I then told him he was being insulting to Negroes (as we referred to them at that point in time). He tilted backwards on his considerable haunches, fixed me with a beady eye, waved his beer glass around, and shouted, "No,man!--I mean he's fuckin' greatttt!". I must now return to my studies of George Formby, Tessie O'Shea and the Real Northern Sound…Tunefully, Ian. http://www.picklehead.com/ian.html ,
June 3, 2008 - Dave Perrett - U.K. - First of all may I congratulate you on the excellent Cyril Davies website. Secondly, I am enquiring about the cd of 'Preachin' the Blues'.
I have had it on order with Amazon for about nine months not realising there is a problem. I already have the up, which I bought when it was first released all those years ago but it would be nice to have it on cd. Could you please give me any information as to if / when it is coming out?
May 30, 2008 - Dave Gelly - London, UK - I did visit the website, which is very impressive. On the whole, it seems that my recollections are fairly accurate. I didn't know about the (Cyril Tribute) reunion, which is a pity.
Ages ago, I played at an anniversary gig of the Marquee (possibly 25th), at the Wardour St. premises, with a kind of lashed-up reunion of Blues By Six. It wasn't very inspiring. They had modern PA, complete with monitors, which meant that we couldn't hear each other properly. Art and I were the saxes, a rather unwell Ronnie Lane was playing bass, Brian Knight spent the entire evening railing against the management and Jeff Bradford didn't say a word all night. Art Themen) remarked that, whereas in the old days we'd all turn up at the Marquee by tube and on time, 25 years later we spent hours driving around looking for somewhere to park and arrived late. www.davegelly.co.uk
May 13, 2008 - Ronnie Jones - Milan, Italy - Hello, this is a voice from the past, I'm Ronnie Jones and thanks to Todd Allen and Mark Troster - I find name popping up here and there for my participation with Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies with Blues Inc…and, well, I might just say that I was proud to be one of them. They gave me my first start to become a professional singer, even though I betrayed the blues back then to do R n' B. Today I 'm back with blues and it's with me even in my radio program on www.radiosnj.com ! I'm just sorry I missed the Davies Tribute gig, would have loved to have been there to hug my old friend Art Themen and Dave Ball if they still remember me! Just wanted to let you guys know that I still exist!
Have a good one, Ronnie.
www.ronniejones.it - Courtesy Henry Scott-Irvine
April 27, 2008 - Serge Bellerose - Drummondville, Quebec, Canada - FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC, OR AS WE SAY - FANTASTIQUE....came upon your site tribute to Cyril yesterday and have spent much of the 2 last days...reading it but more like soaking it up.
Been a fan of Cyril since I first heard him in the late 60's on the Immediate compilation called 'Beginning of British Blues' and then the Alexis Korner's 'Bootleg Him' with a couple of tracks with Cyril; later I found the Alexis Korner 'R&B at Marquee' (Ace of Clubs) and much later - finding the Alexis '1957' LP. Anyway, what I always wanted to know was...ANYTHING about Cyril (!) BUT I never could find much in print back then. I even asked LJ Baldry during a conference at a blues fest in Toronto but he did not say much that I did not already know. BRAVO pour ton site - MERCI et...do let me know if and when the book comes out & good luck with it.
April 27, 2008 - Tony Standish - Australia - I knew Alexis quite well, back in those heady days, but Cyril only in passing. However, I was always an avid admirer and to this day frequently play my Roundhouse Jug Four EP on the VJM label, with Cyril on harmonica, 12-string and vocals. Also, one of the highlights of my U.K. years (1957-1963) was a visit to the Roundhouse during Muddy Waters' early 60s tour when Cyril played harmonica when Muddy graciously gave us a lengthy and absolutely spell-binding display of his art! It was one of the most awesome musical experiences of my life, and Cyril fitted in as if to the manner born. I wrote of that night in Jazz Journal, as part of my review of the Muddy tour with Chris Barber (The Muddy article was in the Feb. '59 issue). And I've also written about that night in an occasional newsletter I do here. I'll dig them out and send you copies. (It may take a few days, as I'm not an "organized" person!). It's been great to hear from so many people abound the world since I put myself "out and about" on the net. I no longer issue records, but I've discovered that a German blues fan has carefully listed all of my old releases -
- including one EP that I had completely forgotten about and did not possess! I quit Jazz Journal in January 1963 after five lovely years as assistant to the editor (Sinclair Traill) and returned to Oz as a "Ten Pound Pom", because I had been away so long! Best of luck with your project. Sorry I've not been of much help. Keep me posted.
April 26, 2008 - Chris Manfredi - Hi, I found your website whilst researching my late father (Derek Manfredi) and see he was in Alexis Korner's Blues Inc. line up back in the 60's, I was wondering if there are any photos of this line up, or would you have any ideas of where some would be available or who else I could contact, it would be really nice to able to get hold of some of my dads history within the band. Kind regards.
(Readers are welcome to contact our site and we will forward to Chris!)
April 23, 2008 - Michele Whitby - Twickenham, UK - Hi Todd, (I'm) researching and writing a book about Eel Pie Island led me to your site; I have just been fitting Cyril Davies into the tale. I did have the pleasure of taking Long John Baldry around the Island for a trip down memory lane the last time he was over here (2000 I think it was). He came to visit Arthur Chisnall, who ran the club, and was a friend of mine, and we all went over to Eel Pie and then for a few pints and a curry!
More info on this project can be found at www.eelpiebook.typepad.com and www.myspace.com/eelpiebook
March 18, 2008 - 'Top' Topham - U.K. - Dear Todd, I have many fond memories of Cyril an inspiration to all blueser's, I will write a piece for you. He gave us, 'The Yardbirds' one of our first breaks and lent us his P.A. Great site, well done!
March 18, 2008 - Paul Manning - Reading, UK - Like many of your contributors, I too would dearly love to get a copy of 'Country Line Special' and the other three tracks from that elusive Pye EP. It was very disappointing to hear the proposed two CD 'Memorial Album' had been abandoned.
I do have on cd (from a cassette, from a reel-to-reel recording, from a microphone next to the radio speaker) the Cyril Davies R & B All Stars recorded from a live BBC radio programme sometime around 1963, but the quality is uneven. The tracks are 'Country Line Special', 'Roberta', 'Chicago Calling', plus 'C C Rider' and 'Jump for Joy' featuring Long John Baldry (the tracks are quite short - no doubt a requirement of the radio show format of the time, but do capture the unique and exciting sound the band created. Unfortunately one has Brian Matthew talking over the start).
Following on from Mike Cooper's Feb 2008 entry, I formed with Mike the Reading blues band, 'Blues Committee', inspired greatly, as Mike says, by Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner who played at Reading and the Ricky Tick at Windsor (upstairs in the Star and Garter pub) and many other venues west of London. Although all of the other British blues groups of the time also played these halls, none in my opinion, with the possible exception of the very early Rolling Stones, created the feeling generated by Cyril Davies in those few short months.
From recently reading the book 'The Rolling Stones, Origin Of The Species' by Alan Clayson, it becomes clear that although groups such as ours in Reading were considering themselves to be pioneers in playing blues, inspired by the few American LP's available at the time, similar groups were forming simultaneously in many other towns in England and their main influence and inspiration was the enthusiasm and excitement given to the music by Cyril Davies in his live appearances.
No doubt you can let all the guest book contributors know if there is anything that can be done to get the Memorial CD's back on track.
March 17, 2008 - Chris Bailey - After seeing Cyril at The Outlook Club on Apr 20th '63, I was immediately captured by the sound of the amplified-harp and the very next day went out to buy one. Trouble was in those days 'there weren't much info on blues harmonicas up North' and as I stared into the huge glass case of my local music-store accompanied by the rest of my 'band' it became a question of "which one?" It took three purchases to find the Echo Vamper (in the key of C.) It cost 7/6d.
By practicing to Cyril's 'Country Line Special' EP, and tracks on (I think) an LP called The Blues Vol. I, I, little-by-little, discovered how to 'bend' a note and that was it! Myself and the band built up quite a repertoire of Cyril's and other blues-greats music. As you can see from the '63 gig list, Cyril's band came back to the Outlook another 4 times that year, and the band and myself caught him every time (including the big fight in the coach outside one night after closing!!) Most of the local bands were Working-men's club outfits, i.e not as specialist as ourselves, and of the few musicians who enjoyed playing blues in our 'backwater' town we'd go and watch each others gigs. This was great for myself as nobody else in the area played blues-harp, so inevitably I'd get asked to sit in! To get that 'crackle-tone' in those days I used a mike off my Dad's reel-to-reel tape machine!
Amongst this little 'clan' were Paul Rogers (later Free), Micky Moody (later Whitesnake), and our own bass-player Bruce Thomas [later Elvis Costello and later still David Coverdale (later Deep Purple)]. By 65-66 we could hold our own against any blues-harp band in the country. But, I was at Art College at the time, and continued with my studies,
whilst still gigging. After graduating somehow my interest depleted and by that time most of the above and others had left and gone to London and onwards.
Over the years I've had a couple of 'veterans' bands, and still have a case full of harps (now £25 each!) n' mikes which I get out on a Sunday for a blues-jam down my local.
I heard the news on Cyril's sudden death whilst laying in bed listening to Jazz-Club on the BBC Light Prog one Sunday night. I was as staggered then, possibly more than the hearing of the death of John Lennon in 1980!
So, next month I'll toast Cyril, and regard myself as a protégé of his for something approaching 45 years!
March 17, 2008 - Derek Pedder - Chingford, Essex - What a brilliant website. I found it by accident when searching for skiffle. I used to see Cyril/Squirrel every week at 'The Marquee' in the early 1960s as part - a very major part - of Blues Incorporated. He was superb then with his own band - was it the Hoochie Coochie Men? For us youngsters (in the Cyril days I lived in Barking) Cyril really was a blues singer and there were not many in England at that time (or now?). No specific memories except how great he was and how exciting the Marquee days were. Of course I knew none of the history then and the Alexis Korner programmes on the wireless were a revelation. It is just marvelous to know that Cyril is remembered and appreciated by so many people. As you say he does not receive the credit he deserves although some nice mentions from Mick Jagger and others in the recent BBC documentary series about Alexis.
Just remembered a wonderful Cyril quote from Mick Jagger (I think) on the BBC programme about when he asked Cyril how to play blues harmonica and the reply was "you f*ckin' suck it and you f*ckin' blow it and the sound comes out"…That was Cyril!
March 11, 2008 - Jeff Watt - California, U.S.A. - Hello, nice site on Cyril! Thanks for referencing Blues-Rock Explosion, which I published. I also have a website dedicated to Graham Bond, which I am in the process of upgrading.
March 8, 2008 - J. W. Fluke (Wayne) - Clifton Heights, PA, USA - I began collecting records in the mid 1960's and it did not take long to find out what the Paul Butterfield Blues Band was all about, and I thought they were exciting! It took until maybe 1972 before I picked up a brand new copy of Alexis Korner's 'R&B From the Marquee' which was my introduction to Blues Inc. It wasn't too long before I found the Legendary Cyril Davies LP on Folklore and many other early Blues Inc. LP's. I picked up many remarkable records on my first trip visiting London in the last week of June 1976. When we arrived it must have been 100 degrees in London then. My friend and I had a mission, we came looking for vinyl. We shopped around various record shops and had a lot of fun doing so. The busiest place was visiting Roger's stall in Soho where we came with an empty suitcase. When we left Roger in Soho, it was full of records, singles and EP's and Roger drove us back to the hotel. Most likely this is where I found a Pye original 45 of 'Chicago Calling'. That changed my life ... thanks Roger! We went home with the biggest collection of the history of British Invasion and progressive music we could find in one visit. What a blast. I'll never forget it. Like everyone else, I am very excited and overjoyed about the (hopefully) upcoming release of the 'Abandoned Album' on the double CD from Universal/Transatlantic. I have seen so many unexplained wonderful releases come my way via the internet; I pray they do not let us down. Keep Rockin'
February 24, 2008 - Mike Cooper - Rome, Italy - Hi there, I stumbled on to your web site for Cyril by pure accident. An American that I don't know at all just sent me an e-mail asking me for thoughts about the Blues Scene in Britain in the 60's - of course Cyril and Alexis figure in my reply. From there I'm here. What I mean is I have been a musician for the past 40+ years and I started because of Cyril Davis and Alexis really. They were the first really exciting musicians that I ever saw live. I saw Cyril several times with and without Alexis. I became a blues singer myself as a result and I even supported (maybe) both of them in Reading where I lived. Well, in fact I was a harmonica player in my first musical life - in Blues Committee. I sang and played harmonica - on my first ever record 'Out Of The Shades', as well as guitar and singing. We worked the Ricky Tick quite regularly in Reading and in Wokingham. I don't play (harmonica) anymore and didn't play much after about 1968. Eventually I became friends with Alexis but never knew Cyril as he had died by the time I became a working player. Cyril and Alexis were a huge influence on my life. It never occurred to me then that white men might not be able to play the blues because as far as I was concerned they did. Maybe more on Cyril at another time...Ciao for now.
http://homepage.mac.com/cooparia, http://www.myspace.com/cooparia, http://www.myspace.com/hipshotrecords
February 1, 2008 - Paul Green - Hereford, UK - I'm very glad to discover this site and see that Cyril Davies is getting some recognition. I first saw him at the Marquee with Alexis & Blues Incorporated in early 62. Soon I became a regular, along with my friend Vincent Crane (later organist with Atomic Rooster). We were overwhelmed by the power and attack of Cyril's playing and singing. I recall chatting with him in the gent's toilet between sets.
"It's a great band, er, Mr Davies…" "Glad you like it, son. Not fucking pop music, is it?"
A few months later of course, Cyril split from Alexis and formed the All-Stars. Vincent and I went to see them at a club near Leicester Square during a massive snow storm and freeze-up in the winter of 62-63. God knows how we got there and back. We were the only people in the audience but Cyril and the band put on a great show; 'Chicago
Calling' was outstanding. Definitely a god-father of British Blues... http://www.qbsaul.demon.co.uk
January 23, 2008 - Dave Berry - Hi Todd, I never worked with Cyril Davies. The harmonica player on all my recordings on Decca was Jimmy Page. He can be heard on 'Not Fade Away', 'Fanny Mae' and any other tracks with harp on them. http://www.cryinggame.co.uk [Ed: Cyril Davies is often credited as performing the version of 'Not Fade Away' mentioned above. Please note that this is a Dave Berry (with Jimmy Page) version of the Buddy Holly tune and NOT Cyril Davies. Geoff Bradford said, "Cyril never recorded 'Not Fade Away' -- he hated pop music of any sort".]
January 17, 2008 - Dave Bowker - Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. - Well in the 60's Blues Boom you HAD to have R&B at the Marquee and the EP on Pye R&B label - 'Country Line Special'!!! I saw Long John, Rod Stewart, and the rest of the 'HC Men' at the REX Ballroon in Wilmslow…what a night!! When I lived in Muswell Hill London, many years later, I befriended Long John, and spent many hours traveling into Central London back and forth on the tube. I always seemed to run into John on the platform at Highgate tube!
I am a fill- in host on ALL BLUES radio show on KUVO 89.3 FM here in Denver I occasionally fill in for the main man Sammy Mayfield . Whenever I do this I always use 'Country Line Special' as my theme tune. I get lots of calls asking what it is! I also play special features on British Blues which are very popular with the listeners - Mayall, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green), Duster Bennett, Graham Bond, Spencer Davis, Baldry, plus many others regularly getting featured. The groove of 'Country Line' still inspires me every time I hear it , or play it , and it sets the tone for the whole 2 hour show! Great memories.
January 16, 2008 - Ron Lowes - San Fransisco, California, U.S.A. - I live in the U.S., in the San Francisco area. Where would I be able to view the film of the Cyril Davies performances? [Ed. - These clips from an old TV program may be the only ones. They are being dusted off for this tribute concert in London and will probably go back in the archive afterwards] I had never seen him since I have never been to the UK. I grew up in San Francisco and was exposed to the music scene of the 1960's which was incredible at that time. I did however find a record of Alexis Korner with Cyril Davies blowing harp. That was my first exposure to Cyril Davies.
I have been involved in music since the 1960's and sing and play harmonica. My band, The Blue Souls, play in the San Francisco bay area. I had seen pictures of Cyril playing and was wondering if you would happen to know the model of amplifier that he was using. He had a good sound. I have a lot of respect and admiration for what he did. His life was way to short.
There are many British bands and musicians that I like. The Pretty Things are going to be performing in San Francisco in March 2008. I will be attending that concert. I did see Savoy Brown at The Fillmore West on the same bill with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Renaissance. A few years ago I saw Long John Baldry along with some of the members of Savoy Brown and some other British blues pioneers.
January 10, 2008 - Chris O'Donovan - Dublin, Ireland - As schools boys making our way into Worplesdon Village Hall, The Wooden Bridge, and the Plaza to see Cyril Davies (who always looked as old as a bush to me), the other brilliant bands and the imported American blues greats…we must have looked odd. What wouldn't I give to be able to have a second look…the odd details (I do remember) do seem to be bizarre in retrospect. We were incredibly young and even getting to Worplesdon was no easy task. I remember three of us riding out there on one Lambretta. We regarded Cyril Davies & co as the definitive R&B band. I still find it hard to reconcile my memories of Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry from those days with what they metamorphosed into as pop stars. Life became easier when the Ricky Tick Club moved to the Plaza in Guildford but sadly by that time things had moved on and Cyril Davies was no longer on the scene. We were still able to get to see the top American blues singers such as Sonny Boy Williamson, etc. The music moved on, the bands became more glamorous; we grew up and went our separate ways with a fantastic set of memories. I hope that a Cyril Davies release does find its way to the market, I for one would be quite happy to pay a premium price for it. My son-in-law has recently copied over my vinyl 'R&B at The Marquee' and some early Georgie Fame's albums so I have something to keep me going.
January 3, 2008 - Eddy Bonte - Belgium - Finally found time to have a look at your site. Great work! There's more info available that one thinks - you've done it all! I will certainly visit your site again when I pick up the rest of the story for my own site.
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Introduction: Cyril Who?
Cyril's Denham Home
Cyril and Leadbelly
With Alexis at The Roundhouse
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated
Cyril Davies' R&B All Stars
Musicians' recollections of Cyril Davies
The background to the developing London blues scene
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