Chicago musical legend Carl Davis dies

Carl Davis, one of the creators of the Chicago Soul sound, has died at age 77 at his home in South Carolina.  Davis worked as a music executive and served as producer with many of that city's soul greats, from Gene Chandler to the Chi-Lites.

In the early 1960s Davis helped run the small Nat record label which had a local hit with the song "Nite Owl" by the DuKays, produced by Davis. A follow-up release, "Duke of Earl", which Davis also produced, was credited to the group's lead singer Gene Chandler, and became a national no. 1 hit after being leased to the larger Vee-Jay label.

Carl Davis, one of the creators of the Chicago Soul sound, has died at age 77 at his home in South Carolina.  Davis worked as a music executive and served as producer with many of that city's soul greats, from Gene Chandler to the Chi-Lites.

In the early 1960s Davis helped run the small Nat record label which had a local hit with the song "Nite Owl" by the DuKays, produced by Davis. A follow-up release, "Duke of Earl", which Davis also produced, was credited to the group's lead singer Gene Chandler, and became a national no. 1 hit after being leased to the larger Vee-Jay label.

In 1962 Davis began working as a producer and A&R director for the Columbia subsidiary label OKeh, where he produced a number of hit records for Major Lance, Billy Butler and Walter Jackson. Many were characterised as "peppy, brassy arrangements... and danceable, upbeat songs with a Latin tinge," often using songs written by Curtis Mayfield that Mayfield felt were inappropriate for his own group, The Impressions. He also continued to produce records for Gene Chandler and The Artistics, and produced Mary Wells after she left Motown. In the late 1960s, he began working for Brunswick Records, where he produced Jackie Wilson's comeback hit "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Barbara Acklin's "Love Makes a Woman", as well as several early hits by The Chi-Lites. He also formed the Dakar label, which had a series of hits with Tyrone Davis (no relation) including "Can I Change My Mind" and "Turn Back the Hands of Time," and also found success with Hamilton Bohannon.

When the Dakar label folded in 1976, Davis formed Chi Sound Records, continuing to find success with Walter Jackson and having a major hit single in 1978 with Gene Chandler's "Get Down." He also oversaw the reunion of the Chi-Lites, which scored hits on Chi Sound with "Hot On A Thing" and "Try My Side of Love." After a distribution deal with 20th Century Records ended in 1981, Davis used independent distribution for two years before closing Chi Sound down. The company had a brief revival in 1989-90, before reopening in 2007. As of 2011, Davis continued to manage Chi Sound Records.

Carl Davis’ biography, The Man Behind the Music: The Legendary Carl Davis, was published in May 2011.

Portions of this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Carl Davis.


 

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