“Washita Love Child”: Jesse Ed & Eric Whatsisname

In The World of Indigenous America, Brian Wright-McLeod writes of the “powwow style” and its influence in popular music, as exemplified by such artists as Jim Pepper, Peter DePoe, and Jesse Ed Davis:

“Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche-Kiowa) began his work as a leading session guitarist in the early 1960s when he accompanied country singer Conway Twitty.  The powwow influences in Davis’s music are both subtle and yet apparent to the trained ear.  From his first solo album, Jesse Davis (Atco, 1970), the song ‘Washita Love Child’ contains both lyrical references (‘And I did that powwow thing’) and the combined background vocals of Merry Clayton, Clydie King, and Gram Parsons, utilizing the vocal refrain of ‘hey-ya-hey’ typical of the powwow song style, but arranged by Davis as a standard back-up vocal.  The back beat and rhythm of the song are obviously powwow-based.”

Edited by ROBERT WARRIOR

World of Indigenous AmericaThe autobiographical “Washita Love Child” – with its driving beat and guest guitar solo by Eric Clapton – seems the obvious choice for the album’s opening track, and yet it would get bumped to the #3 spot:

“Washita Love Child”     Jesse Ed Davis with Eric Clapton     1970

Musician credits for Jesse Davis

  • Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Guitar:  Eric Clapton & Joel Scott Hill
  • Backing Vocals:  Bobby Jones, Clydie King, Gloria Jones, Gram Parsons, Maxine Willard, Merry Clayton, Nikki Barclay & Vanetta Fields
  • Keyboards:  Ben Sidran, John Simon, Larry Knechtel & Leon Russell
  • Bass:  Billy Rich & Steve Thompson
  • Drums:  Alan White, Bruce Rowland, Chuck Blackwell & Steve Mitchell
  • Percussion:  Alan Yoshida, Jackie Lomax, Johnnie Ware, Pat Daley, Pete Waddington & Sandy Konikoff
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Frank Mayes
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Jerry Jumonville [solo]
  • Trombone & Trumpet:  Darrell Leonard
  • Baritone Saxophone & Clarinet:  James Gordon
  • Producer, Arranger & Album Cover Concept:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Cover Painting:  Jesse Edwin Davis II

Jesse Ed Davis 45-aJesse Ed Trivia That Might Blow Your MInd, If Slightly

~ Jesse Ed Davis released “Sue Me Sue You Blues” in 1972 before the song’s author, George Harrison, issued his own version on 1973’s Living in the Material World.

~ Jesse Ed Davis provided musical support for two artists who would each record distinctive versions of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” for debut albums released in 1971 & 1973, respectively:  Leon Russell (guitar) and Bryan Ferry (backing vocals).

~ In 1973, when Jesse Ed Davis and Iggy & the Stooges shared the same label for exactly one album, Columbia released a “split EP” (4 songs on a 7-inch 33 rpm record) that paired the two artists, bizarrely, for the first and last time.

Jesse Ed & Iggy-aJesse Ed & Iggy-b

~ In 1987, the year before his untimely death, Jesse Ed Davis contributed a guitar solo on the closing track “At Last” for Scott Colby‘s Slide of Hand album on respected punk label, SST (Black Flag, Minutemen, Descendents, Bad Brains, Hüsker Dü & Meat Puppets, et al.)


Jesse Ed Helped Breathe Life into the Following Songs:

~ “Doctor My Eyes” — the breakout hit from Jackson Browne’s 1972 debut album.

~ “Heal Your Heart” on Stevie Miller Band’s 1972 album, Recall the Beginning…A Journey from Eden.

~ “Open Up the Watergate (And Let the Sunshine In)” on 1974 Bert Jansch album, L.A. Turnaround.

~ “(What a) Wonderful World” from David Bromberg’s Midnight on the Water album from 1975.

~ “Stand By Me” (slide guitar solo) on John Lennon’s hit version from 1975’s Rock ‘n’ Roll album.

~ “Don’t Think … Feel” from 1976 Neil Diamond album, Beautiful Noise.

~ “Hard Workin’ Man” by Captain Beefheart with Jack Nitzsche & Friends from 1978 soundtrack album, Blue Collar.


Jesse Ed Played Guitar (et al.) on the Following Albums

  • Taj Mahal     Taj Mahal     1968
  • Taj Mahal     The Natch'l Blues     1968
  • Rolling Stones & Friends     Rock & Roll Circus     1968  [Taj Mahal]
  • Taj Mahal     Giant Steps     1969
  • Jesse [Ed] Davis     Jesse Davis     1970
  • George Harrison & Friends     Concert for Bangladesh     1971
  • Gene Clark     White Light     1971
  • Roger Tillison     Roger Tillison's Album     1971
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie     She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina     1971
  • John Lee Hooker     Endless Boogie    1971
  • B.B. King     L.A. Midnight     1971
  • Albert King     Lovejoy     1971
  • Albert Collins     There's Gotta Be a Change     1971
  • Lightnin' Hopkins     It's a Sin to Be Rich     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Ululu     1972
  • Alex Richman     Salty     1972
  • Jim Pulte     Out the Window     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Keep Me Comin'     1973
  • Rod Taylor     Rod Taylor     1973
  • Dion     Born to Be With You     1975
  • Mac Davis     Burnin' Thing     1975
  • Harry Nilsson     ... That's the Way It Is  +  Sandman     1976
  • David Blue     Cupid's Arrow     1976
  • Jimmy Cliff     Follow My Mind     1976
  • Leonard Cohen     Death of a Ladies' Man     1977
  • Ben Sidran     A Little Kiss in the Night     1978
  • Jack Nitzsche & Friends     Soundtrack from 'Blue Collar'     1978

“Witchi Tai To”: Pop Chant

How did I only just learn of “Witchy Tai To”?  This morning I heard this song for the first time, and it immediately occupied the empty spaces in my soul and refused to leave:

“Witchi Tai To”     Topo D. Bill     1969

I am hardly the first person to react this way to the song — many voices on the web likewise characterize the song as an “earworm” of major proportions.  Is it possible that Jim Pepper’s adaptation of an ancient (peyote) chant is the first such Native American chant to be played on pop radio?  Brewer & Shipley confirm the hunch:  “To this day ‘Witchi Tai To’ is the only hit in the history of the Billboard pop charts (reaching #69 in 1969) to feature an authentic Native American chant.”  Pepper’s hit version was recorded with the group, Everything is Everything, and issued, unsurprisingly, on Vanguard.

Ed Ward drew my attention to this song when he reviewed a non-LP version of this mesmerizing tune by “Topo D. Bill” (get it?), a pseudonym for “Legs” Larry Smith of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and special friends, although there is fervent speculation as to whom — possibly Keith Moon on drums and members of Yes lending support.  “This song,” wrote Ward, “is on its way to becoming a ‘standard’ in the rock field, and no wonder, since it lends itself to myriad interpretations so readily.”

This 1979 Trouser Press tribute to the Charisma record label states that (1) a pseudonym was used for this single since the Bonzos were still under contract to United Artists at the time of the song’s release and (2) “Witchi Tai To” was the label’s inaugural 45.  David Fricke gets the amusing back story from Charisma’s founder, Tony Stratton Smith:

“For this masterpiece of a single, Larry insisted on either ‘Witchi-Tai-To’ or ‘Springtime for Hitler.’  We were just closing a deal with a German distributor, so we didn’t think ‘Springtime for Hitler’ would be all that good and went with ‘Witchi-Tai-To.’  I also remember that single because we were counting every penny in those days.  I said to Larry, ‘Well, you’ve got your studio and musicians.  What else do you want?’  He said, ‘I’ll tell you, old boy, if you could arrange for 44 drumsticks of chicken and a dozen bottles of champagne…’  I told him he had to be joking. ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘we’ve got to have a supper break.’  And like an idiot, I fell for it.”

            UK 7″                                    German 45                                French 7″

Witchi Tai ToWitchi Tai To-aWitchi Tai To-b

Is “Witchi Tai To” the ‘standard’ Ed Ward predicted it would be?  Perhaps not yet – but it could and should be the “native” part of our American pop canon.

Larry Coryell, Billy Cobham & Chuck Rainey (et al) backed Jim Pepper on his debut LP

Jim Pepper LP

“God Out West”: Link Wray Sings Hallelujah

Between the years 1971-1974, Link Wray entered into a business relationship with Polydor Records that yielded four albums – but no singles.  Link’s debut Polydor album, 1971’s  Link Wray, found him embracing his Shawnee heritage at a time when popular interest in Native American culture and history was at an all-time peak, as reflected in Paul Revere’s #1 hit, “Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” and the release of the first Billy Jack vigilante film.

Link Wray LPLink Wray back cover

Songs were recorded at Link’s converted chicken coop 3-track recording facility in Accokeek, Maryland, with floorboard stomping and nail can shaking used as rhythmic accompaniment (i.e., no drum kit).  “God Out West,” written by drummer, Steve Verroca, is a song that taps into the “God Pop” feeling that was similarly widespread in the early 1970s: