Wild Bill Davis

Wild Bill Davis (November 24, 1918 – August 17, 1995) was the stage name of American jazz pianist, organist, and arranger William Strethen Davis. He is best known for his pioneering jazz electronic organ recordings and for his tenure with the Tympany Five, the backing group for Louis Jordan. Prior to the emergence of Jimmy Smith in 1956, Davis (whom Smith had reportedly first seen playing organ in the 1930s) was the pacesetter among organists.

Davis was born in Glasgow, Missouri and grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He first learned music from his father who was a professional singer. He received further musical training at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, and at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. In his early career he took inspiration from Fats Waller and Art Tatum.

Davis moved to Chicago, where he originally played guitar and wrote arrangements for Milt Larkin‘s big band from 1939 through 1942; a band which included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Tom Archia on horns. In 1943 he played guitar and wrote arrangements for Earl Hines. Davis first worked as a pianist in Chicago with Louis Jordan and his band Tympany Five, whom he played with regularly from 1945 through 1949. He played a crucial role as the pianist-arranger for that ensemble at the height of their success in the years 1945 through 1947.He also played piano in a recording with Buster Bennett in 1945.

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