Ron Davies was a genius of rhyme and melody. He has been described by his peers
as the "quintessential poet” and the "songwriter's writer." John Hadley
(a music professor at the University of Oklahoma) was quoted as saying,
“I separate the world into two kinds of people, the ones that
get Ron Davies and the ones that don’t.”
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana (the oldest son of country singer Tex Dickerson), Ron was
influenced by songwriters like Hank Williams, but he also loved the
music of Blind Lemon Jefferson and classical guitarist Andrés Segovia.
Ron spent his early years living in the South, until his parents
separated, and he moved with his two siblings to Washington State.
Ron's last name was changed when his mother remarried, and he was
adopted by his kind and loving stepfather, Darby Davies, who bought him his first
guitar. Ron’s songs often reflect his love of the Pacific Northwest,
and yet a longing to get “Back To The South.”
By the time Ron
was seventeen, he had written an album’s worth of stellar songs for a
Seattle based band called The Wailers, along with a regional hit single entitled
"It's You Alone." Ron's unique style of singing and writing (referred to by Joan Baez as a
cross between Bob Dylan and John Lennon) caught the attention of A&M record executives in California.
Ron was signed to a recording contract in 1968 and released
his first solo album, which he called "Silent Song Through The Land," featuring nine of his
original compositions including the blues standard "It Ain't Easy." As a side note, the angelic harmony vocals on this
album were sung by Ron’s beautiful young wife, Vicki Lynn Davies, who was his singing partner from
1962 to 1974, as well as the mother of his two daughters.
career received a major boost in 1970 when Three Dog Night recorded “It Ain’t Easy” and made it the title of their album. Although often miscredited to
Ray Davies from The Kinks (Ron displayed his wry sense of humor when he asked his publisher
to take some of The Kinks out of his copyright), “It Ain’t Easy” gained international
fame when a British artist by the name of David Bowie recorded it on his
RCA album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars."
wasn’t long before Ron Davies’ songs were in demand and being
recorded by such iconic artists as Long John Baldry, Dave Edmunds, Joe
Cocker, Anne Murray, Dobie Gray, Bettye LaVette, Chris Smithers, Glenn Yarbrough,
Merry Clayton, Mitch Ryder and Steppenwolf’s John Kay, to name a few.
Australian born pop singer Helen Reddy recorded what would later become
one of Ron’s signature songs entitled “Long Hard Climb” and made it the title of her
1973 platinum selling album. This song was also recorded by Maria Muldaur on her
1974 Reprice album "Midnight On The Oasis."
With his newfound success, A&M decided to team Ron up with Grammy award winning engineer, Tommy Vicarri, to co-produce
his album, "UFO." Enlisting the help of musicians Billy
Preston, Wilton Felder, Andy Newmark, and The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” girl Claudia Lennear, they created a critically acclaimed
masterpiece that prompted Rock Magazine to declare Ron Davies “The Best New Songwriter of the Year.”
Ron moved to Nashville, Tennessee,
in 1985 to write for Cedarwood Publishing and later on in his career for
Warner/Chappell Music. His talents were quickly recognized when Jerry Jeff
Walker recorded "The Man He Used To Be" and two of his songs appeared on
the Grammy nominated Joan Baez album "Play Me Backwards." Ron Davies’ songs have also been
recorded by Randy Travis, Nancy Griffith, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Gail Davies, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,
Chris Scruggs, and Jack White & The Raconteurs.
Although not a
professional actor, Ron Davies was cast as the lead character in the George
Jones’ video, "old Hard Truth," in 1999. He toured Europe with his sister,
country singer Gail Davies, in 2002 and also appeared with her at The Kerrville
Folk Festival. Inspired by the reaction he received from the audience (Ron received a standing
ovation at the end of his performance) Ron returned to Nashville to record an introspective album
entitled "Where Does The Time Go." Sadly, this would be the last album Ron would record.
He died of a heart attack on October 30, 2003, leaving behind an amazing legacy of more than 500 songs.
Unsung Hero – A Tribute To The Music of Ron Davies, features 22 of Ron’s finest compositions
recorded by some of his favorite artists. This album is a must for any serious connoisseur of good music and poetry…