Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“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 America

The 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 placed in the #3 slot:

Washita Love Child

Jesse Ed Davis with Eric Clapton (1970)

Artist 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-a


Jesse 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 Bob 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 Steve 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 from 1978 soundtrack LP, Blue Collar.


Jesse Ed Played 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
Gene Clark     No Other     1974
John Lennon     Walls and Bridges     1974
Ringo Starr     Goodnight Vienna     1974
George Harrison     Extra Texture     1975
Harry Nilsson     Pussy Cats     1974
Harry Nilsson     Duit on Mon Dei     1975
Keith Moon     Both Sides of the Moon     1975
Van Dyke Parks     Clang of the Yankee Reaper     1975
Jackie DeShannon     New Arrangement     1975
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 fromBlue Collar   1978




Notes From the Underground by Carl La Fong

Record World

October 31, 1970

Relax, Buffy. Help is on the way.

Jesse Edwin Davis is a Kiowa Commanche from Oklahoma. His remarkable guitar can be heard on all of Taj Mahal‘s albums, and as of next week, on his own Atlantic album, Jesse Davis. His dad, one of the southwest’s noted artists, painted the cover.

Through his Washita Productions, he is producing Roger Tillison for Atlantic, Gram Parsons for A&M, and Southwind for Blue Thumb.

Jesse was fortunate. He was born into a loving, strong family back in Oklahoma City. His feelings about the injustices being suffered by his people are a fact of his life, not of his occupation. He is a warm, together person who has succeeded on his own terms. His actions speak for him.

The members of Epic’s Redbone, on the other hand, seeth to have a hit, to be successful, to have a name they can use to do something for their people. They have been deprived of their heritages for most of their lives, and only recently have they been able to proudly claim their blood. Like most young Indians today they are making up for lost pride.

They recognize that it is too early to talk about plans, but it is obvious in the backs of their minds they are putting it together for the day when they will be able to move effectively.

Meantime, they are delighted to play for benefits or at free concerts for their brothers. Recently in Seattle, Redbone played for a conference of the United Nations of All Tribes. The money raised by the concert went to help cover legal costs and bail for those who were arrested during demonstrations for the return of vacated Fort Lawton, a prime piece of land in the middle of Seattle, to its original owners, the Northwest Indians. See, there is a clause in all treaties between the U.S. government and Indian tribes that calls for the return of unused federally-owned land to its prior inhabitants, which was the prime justification for the liberation of Alcatraz.

Pat and Lolly, the notorious Vegas brothers (writers of “Nicky Hokey,” among other songs), are the oldest and most experienced members of Redbone, and they have been in and out of L.A. on the business of music for years. They had their own set for a long time, and before that they were among the top sidemen on the Coast, working together out of San Francisco to back such diverse artists as Dexter Gordon and Little Walter. “Man,” said Lolly, “we’ve worked behind everybody from Jimmy Clanton to Connie Francis.” Lolly covers the Leslie-amplified lead guitar, Pat plays bass, and they share the majority of the group’s vocals.

It wasn’t far to San Francisco from Fresno, where they grew up the fourth and fifth of ten children. They are of the Yaqui nation, transplanted from Arizona, and “We were so poor that when the garbage man came my mother would ask him to leave two cans,” recalls Lolly.

Drummer Pete DePoe‘s family wasn’t much better off, though they had fishing rights on the Neah Bay reservation on Puget Sound. Cheyennes, his people were relocated from the Dakotas. Ceremonial drumming first turned him on to rock drums, and he returned to primal drumming occasionally, as in “Chant: 13th Hour” on Redbone’s latest album.

Tony Bellamy‘s childhood was easier by comparison, since his stepfather owned a Mexican restaurant south of Los Angeles. It was there that he learned guitar when he was drafted into the show his family provided for customers of the cafe. He switched from flamenco to electric to earn a little money playing dance music in high school.

Musicially, Redbone plans to work still more Indian heritage into their repertoire. They are also planning a television special on the American Indian, adapting their music to an “informative, educational and entertaining semi-documentary” which they will produce independently.


LINK to Native America in Popular Music

2 Responses

  1. Eric “whatshisname”,,, my sentiments exactly,, my whole life I wondered who did that guitar lick from”Doctor My Eyes,” and when I found out it was Jesse Edwin Davis, as well as all the other guitar licks I loved in other songs, I was instantly in love. He by far was light years ahead of everyone else. It bothers me how he died. Well we had him for 43 years, that’s how I look at it.

  2. Often, YouTube does not display the image of the Kiowa-Comanche Jesse “Ed” Davis’ (of this article) when they show a link to Jesse Ed’s songs. I don’t know who is above, but elsewhere I’ve seen the African-American sax player named Jesse Davis pictured in a small circle. Other music sites have had the same mistake.

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