Carl Davis died last week in his home in Summerville, SC, of pulmonary fibrosis. I offer sincere condolences to his family.
Davis was vice president of Brunswick and the producer of Jackie Wilson’s last work, sometimes dubbed the “Chicago” LPs. While I personally have a strong dislike for much of what Davis produced with Jackie Wilson, there were some undisputedly positive results from these sessions, foremost among them “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Davis also produced Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl,” a number of recordings for Major Lance, and early hits for the Chi-Lites. Records he produced are among the favorites of Northern Soul fans.
Among the books I plan to review here this fall is Carl Davis’s memoir, The Man Behind the Music: The Legendary Carl Davis, which he published last year. Artistic considerations aside, Davis appears to be one person who genuinely cared about Jackie Wilson during the singer’s darkest hours, and the memoir stands as evidence that Davis wanted to dissociate himself from Nat Tarnopol and expose, to what extent he felt he could, how Tarnopol and Brunswick treated Wilson. Carl Davis was also a source in the Tony Douglas books on Wilson, so his name will be coming up frequently as this blog develops.