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Chicago Soul Man Tyrone Davis Dies

Although I was just a kid, I was a pretty serious student of Top 40 radio from the mid-’60s until I “graduated” to “progressive rock” radio in the early’-70s, which I realize in retrospect actually narrowed my tastes for a time.

But I remember ever so vividly being blown away by both of Tyrone Davis’s smash pop and R&B hits “Can I Change My Mind” (’68) and “Turn Back the Hands of Time” (’70), the smooth but undeniable groove, the earthy gentle voice oozing regret but not giving up on the possibility of renewal, just classic.

Davis died yesterday at 66. Greg Kot has a fine tribute in the Chicago Tribune:

    Whether they know it or not, many of today’s soul crooners take their cues from Davis, who forged one of the more distinctive personas in rhythm and blues during the last five decades.

    He was a suave smoothie who sang about relationships with a mixture of wisdom and regret.

    He not only helped define the sound of Chicago soul in the 1960s and ’70s in the wake of Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and Gene Chandler, he continued to record and tour until he suffered a stroke last September.

    ….Davis’ hits, including “Turn Back the Hands of Time,” “Can I Change My Mind” and “Turning Point,” reflected a dark, nearly whispered perspective on relationships that endeared him to the black working-class community for decades.

    By 1971, Davis was a star, riding a couple of top 10 hits.

    “He was like Mr. Chicago,” singer Willie Clayton once told the Tribune.

    “It was a thrill to be around and see the fancy cars; you name it, he had it.”

    Val Kashimura, an R&B singer and executive at Davis’ Mississippi-based label, Malaco Records, called Davis “one of the big dogs in our line of work.”

    “They used to call Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. the `Rat Pack,’” Kashimura said. “Well, I used to call Tyrone Davis, Bobby Bland, Johnny Taylor and Little Milton the `Four Pack,’ because they were the godfathers of R&B and blues for a couple generations of artists.”

    Davis was born in Greenville, Miss. But by age 19, he was in Chicago and forged relationships with such contemporaries as Otis Clay, Mighty Joe Young and Otis Rush.

    ….Davis in the role of the penitent gentleman in a brightly colored tuxedo established a sound that distinguished him from more strident soul contemporaries such as Clay and Taylor.

    “He was the ladies’ man,” said Graham, who also worked as Davis’ producer, songwriter and guitarist.

    “He tried to put messages in his songs, and he found a niche that no else had.”

    As popular taste changed, Davis adapted by recording songs such as “Get on Up (Disco),” but he never veered from his becalmed yet sensual perspective.

    By the time he started recording for Malaco in the 1990s, he had become a respected elder statesman on the blues and R&B circuit.

    “We used to call him `Daddy’ because he was the wise one, someone who all the other artists on the label looked up to,” Kashimura said.

    His records continued to sell to black audiences, and he was regularly booked for weekend concerts until the stroke silenced him.

    Davis is survived by his wife, Ann, and numerous children and grandchildren. Funeral services are pending.

Also of interest is an Internet chat Davis held on the Soul Patrol site.

About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.wallybangs.blogspot.com wally bangs

    I’m going to stop coming to the library to check Blogcritics.org. Everytime I do I read about another legend dying. I’ll be glad when I go back to work next work next week, maybe it’ll save some lives. First Jimmy Smith and now Tyrone Davis, this week is turning into a big bummer music wise. I wonder if the Grammys will pay tribute to either man? I’m sure they can’t cut into Eminem’s time or what other lame acts will be on. When I started working at a used record store years ago and I asked what the best soul CD was in the store, one of the guys handed me a Tyrone Davis CD and said “if you never listen to anybody else, listen to this man.” Which blew me away since I figured Otis Redding was the top of the mountain, but one listen to Tyrone’s smooth voice convinced me otherwise.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Wally, it’s a bad bad week, and we missed Jim Capaldi dying last week. I’ve got to get back to him as well.

  • Erma Payne

    Wan’ted you all to know that I am keeping you in my prayers. Sending love and the deepest sympathy.
    Love Always,
    Erma

    Port Allen, La

  • glenda jackson

    i’m sorry about the passing of t.d. he was a lady’s man .we all loved his here in tylertown ,ms.

  • virginia perkins

    I’ll miss tyrone davis,he is from back in the year when i was in hi school,this music bring back memory,of long ago.don’t have nothing to do with todays music,in those days to listern to it ,it says something about life.and the love of life,love you wanted to share with someone.SO TYRONE TAKE YOUR REST YOU HAVE FAUGHT A GOOD FIGHT,SO FAMILY YOU IN MY PRAYER.IT IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT,GOD IS GOING TO MAKE IT ALRIGHT.

  • rupert Kinlock

    My first vinyl record was his hit song “turning point” i bought in the 1970s in Jamaica. It was only last year a friend got me a copy of his 20 greatest hits. Tyrone was a great singer at his craft. My condolences goes to his family.

    From Rupert in Jamaica, West Indies

  • Eric Olsen

    really great to hear from so many fans of Tyrone – thanks for sharing

  • tony vinson

    i was very surprised when i heard about t.d. dying. cause a couple months ago they were saying on the radio, that he had died but it was misimformation. BUT HE WILL B MISSED.i had the chance 2 meet him once nice guy.

  • MASTER JOCK

    I WAS A YOUNG MAN ABOUT 24, WHEN I DJ’ED IN BETWEEN ACT’S AT A LIVE BLUES SHOW STARRING TYRONE, IT WAS MY FIRST SHOW I EVER PLAYED IN FRONT OF SUCH A LARGE REVUE.HE TOUCHED ME THEN AND IT HURT’S MY HEART TO KNOW HE’S GONE .
    ALL I WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO TYRONE IS
    “I’LL ALWAY’S LOVE” WHICH COMES FROM ONE OF HIS GREATEST HIT’S. EVERY TIME I HEAR THIS SONG IT WILL FOREVER REMIND ME OF ONE OF BLUES FAVORITE GENTLEMEN………TYRONE DAVIS A.K.A. T.D.

    P.S. I GUESS THE WRONG DO’ERS WILL FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO PICK ON! LOL
    I LOVE YOU …
    I”LL MISS YOU
    MASTER JOCK

  • Gloria

    I was one of the fortunate ones to hear Mr. Tyrone Davis in concert for the last time. The people of Mobile,Al. is really going to miss him.To the family God Bless and keep you. Mr. Tyrone I LOVE YOU AND GOING TO MISS YOU.

  • Eric Olsen

    these tributes are very touching, deeper than most

  • HW Saxton

    Beyond Tyrone Davis’s chart success and
    his popularity back in the late 1960′s
    & early to mid 1970′s when he began his
    run of hit singles,Tyrone remained very
    popular with black audiences and a major
    draw to the end of his career, mainly on
    on the “Chittlin’Circuit” club scene.

    To this day, I have yet to walk into any
    mainly Black owned/operated/patronized
    Blues bar w/o finding Tyrone on the juke
    therein. While his main strength was his
    Soul/R & B tunes,he could belt some mean
    slow grinding Blues with the best of ‘em
    anywhere,any time.

    Re-issues of his 1st and 2nd LP’s “Can I
    Change My Mind” and “Turn Back The Hands
    Of Time”, respectively, are to be had on
    both vinyl and compost disc.

    Try “www.dustygrooveamerica” if you are
    at all interested.It’s a great store in
    Chicago I order from frequently and they
    they have all kinds of other cool Soul/
    Funk/Jazz/Reggae/Latin/Hip-Hop/Soundtrax
    as well.

  • Eric Olsen

    cool HW, of course you would know all that

  • c murry

    I don think anyone else can say that they cared more of Tyrone Davis’s work than I because I lived to hear his voice everyday of my life, I knew him from Chicago, and I have all of his work. C Murry

  • Eric Olsen

    I would say that level of commitment would be hard to beat!

  • c, murry

    c. Murry again Tyrone Davis had a style about himself that other men would love to have also,the ability to make a living doing what GOD gave him to work with a voice and the love of peopel trying to make them happy and feel good about themself if only if it was the time of a show, I know what I want to say GOD GAVE IS TYRONE DAVIS, SO LET’S THANK GOD FOR HIM. AMAN

  • C.MURRY

    sorry about the words being spelled wrong it was trying to type to fast

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks C! no problem, your meaning is clear and powerful

  • LINDA COOPER

    I AM VERY DEEPLY SADDEN ABOUT MR.TYRONE .HE WILL BE MISSED.I HAVE PLENTY OF HIS MUSIC, AND I REALLY IN TRULY LOVED HIM.MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

  • p brooks

    my family andi enjoyed tyrones music we will miss him we are praying for you and your family god is stand by. god bless you

  • Dee Davis

    I simply loved this man for he was one of those great singers of my day. This man could move one as no other could with his finess and sultry voice. There has been one other singer who was absolutely my very own favorite and that was Marvin Gaye. I will always and forever remember these guys through their music and that magnificant style. I have Tryone Davis music during the late sixties and early seventies as well as Marvin Gayes music and I will treasure it forever. He will be greatly missed. Yet, we all have to face the same at some point as well.

  • Charles A. Daniel I

    Tyrone Davis was the man. I remember when I was a kid in Lake Charles, La. and he use to always come to this club, Ball Auditourum, the hottest spot back in the day. I could always hear him out side, was only 12 or 13 at the time. This was 35 or so years ago. Another good singer, gone. We all must go this way and he will be missed.

    Payback

  • Glossaree

    Tyrone Ddavis will be greatly missed by all of his friends and that we all share in sadness. I will never forget him. My favorite records by him is ” Can I change my mind” and ” I’ll always love you”

  • John G.”BUDDY” Andrade

    From 1965 in Wareham Mass.to North Carolina USMarine Corps,to California USMC,to Viet-Nam and Back to Wareham,New Bedford and a special time in Martha’s Vineyard Tyrone Davis was there to remind me of LOVE AND REGRET!I wish I had meet him.To his wife children and family thanks for sharing a great person with the world.God Bless.’Turn Back the Hands os Time.With Love and Regret, Buddy Andrade.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Buddy, it’s great to see Tyrone get so much love

  • Vera

    You will be missed by all of your fans and relatives. I send my sympathy to all of the family.

    Vera Mae; good-by cuz.

  • jusLillie

    Like many of you I grew up listening to Tyrone on the southside of Chicago. I am privileged that he picked me as the poet to write and perform the intro on his final album “The Legendary Hall of Famer”. Thanks to T.D. for allowing me to get it started. I couldn’t believe someone with a name like his chose a newcomer like me. bigPEACES Tyrone

  • Danny Poullard

    For 15 years I have been doing a 2 hour tribute to T.D. for his birthday. This year it will be Saturday May 6, 2006 around 3pm central time. That’s 2 hours of TDs music. Listen live on the web at http://www.oldies925.com click on ”The Danny Poullard Show” then click the ”Listen Live” button. Enjoy…

  • ann campbell

    ill always miss u still loving all those songs rip

  • hen

    Last time i remember tryone at desoto civic center and also remember MR T Davis in MASON TN when i was child. I also remember him at CLUD Paradise in MEMPHIS TN.

  • mary slade

    I am a big fan of the latest greatest r&b singer of all time.But before his death what happened to tyrone davis chest?what with all of the scars?

  • joyce port allen

    I loved t.d he was the man, my man