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When Blind John Davis Remembered When Glencoe Was Fun

From the documentary Sweet Home Chicago, uploaded to YouTube this week by RawBluesTV.


"John Henry Davis, better known to the Blues world as Blind John Davis, migrated to Chicago way before most," according to the Cascade Blues Association.

"He was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on December 7, 1913. His father, John Wesley Davis, was a sawmill worker and his mother, Lillie, was a former minstrel show dancer.

"When John was three, his father moved the family to Chicago and found work in a wheel foundry. Prohibition came along and John's father took advantage of the opportunities it created to make money. He opened a number of 'good time' or 'sporting' houses, where people secretly consumed bootleg spirits. His father made different home brews and supplemented his income so his family did not feel the setbacks others felt during the depression.

"John was nine when he lost his eyesight. He stepped on a rusty nail and the infection set in his eyes. His mother tried to cure him with a home remedy, but was unsuccessful.

"Music was the main form of entertainment at John's father's sporting houses, thus, he was exposed to it whenever his father took him by one. John learned to play piano when he was fourteen, out of jealousy. His father paid people to play piano in his houses, so John asked his father if he would pay him if he learned to play. His father bought him a piano and John taught himself by listening to others play on the radio and in the houses.

"Within a couple of years, John was playing in his father's places and at parties in the area. He found work in many white clubs in town because of his wide selection of songs.

"In 1933 he put together his first band, Johnny Lee's Music Masters, and later another group called the Johnny Davis Rhythm Boys. They played many of the white speakeasies in the suburbs and the downtown area."


More Blind John Davis.


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 18, 2012

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