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
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 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.
~ 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 from ‘Blue Collar‘ 1978
Notes From the Underground by Carl La Fong
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
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.
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.