FRED DAVIS is a little known blues man. He worked in and around Cleveland and fronted a band – Dave & The Blues Express. For reasons never explained his career terminated when he was jailed and on release he went to work in a Cleveland factory before being tragically shot and killed in a liquor store parking lot in 1988. A classic blues man’s story!
By some quirk of fate one of Fred’s co factory workers was Howard Husock, father of blue-eyed soul star Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the pair (dad and Fred) became great friends sharing a passion for blues music. The friendship blossomed and Howard got Fred to record some music with a band in his living room! For many years, it seemed the tape was lost but it was eventually found by none other than Eli Reed – busy forging his own music career. The tape was handed over to Colemine Records who’ve cleaned it up and mastered it ready for a release as ‘Clevland Blues’ on April 21st.
An odd story but Eli tells it so much better: “Fred Davis was a legend, but only in my living room. There was always music around my house, but as a teenager, I started digging deeper and deeper into the blues records in my Dad’s collection. That was when I started to get the Fred Davis story in fits and starts. In the summer of 1967, he ended up working alongside my Dad at Harco, the Cleveland factory where my grandfather was an executive. They became friends, bonding over the B.B. King and Bobby Bland records blaring from the AM radio on the factory floor. After I found Fred’s tape my father explained how it came to exist: He found some friends (acquaintances really) who had a band and some equipment. They setup in my grandparents living room where the upright piano was, and he invited Fred over to record some of his songs with the band backing him up. Invited him over, to play loud music, in his boss’s living room. Sounds like something I would have done. The idea was that maybe if there were some recordings of Fred that he could use them to get booked on the nascent college blues-revival circuit, but it wasn’t to be. With this music now professionally transferred and remastered, I can only hope that Fred Davis can finally receive the acclaim that he deserves; that he never received in his lifetime. The legend can finally go behind the confines of my living room and, with any luck, to the whole world.”
As we stated up top, Fred Davis’s ‘Cleveland Blues’ wins release (at last) on Colemine in April. In the meantime, a taster single has been released – a rough, tough ‘Wine Hop’ which shows that Fred could’ve been a contender!