Cultural Percussionist

Reverend Gary Davis Day

Reverend Gary Davis, also Blind Gary Davis (born Gary D. Davis, April 30, 1896 – May 5, 1972), was a blues and gospel singer who was also proficient on the banjo, guitar and harmonica. His fingerpicking guitar style influenced many other artists. His students include Stefan Grossman, David Bromberg, Steve Katz, Roy Book Binder, Larry Johnson, Nick Katzman, Dave Van Ronk, Rory Block, Ernie Hawkins, Larry Campbell, Bob Weir, Woody Mann, and Tom Winslow. He influenced Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen, Keb’ Mo’, Ollabelle, Resurrection Band, and John Sebastian (of the Lovin’ Spoonful).

Davis was born in Laurens, South Carolina, in the Piedmont region. Of the eight children his mother bore, he was the only one who survived to adulthood. He became blind as an infant. He recalled being poorly treated by his mother and that his father placed him in the care of his paternal grandmother. Davis reported that when he was 10 years old his father was killed in Birmingham, Alabama; he later said that he had been told that his father was shot by the Birmingham sheriff.

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