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MEMORIES

Since this site was launched, many fans of Paul Davis's music have contacted me, some with memories that add vividly to the story of his career.

First, a wonderful contribution from a musician who worked alongside Paul right at the start of his recording career... it all happened in Meridian, MS, around 1966...

FRANK MORRIS, FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

 

I am one of the original Six Soul Survivors that played on “Gotta Find A Way”. I worked with Paul for three years when we were in High School, until he went on to bigger and better things. I have an old, old 45 that Paul played on and was recorded at Bob Reetz’s studio where “Gotta Find a Way” (the Six Soul Survivors’ single) was recorded. It was an instrumental called "Soul Ghost" (b/w “Groovin”), recorded under the name “The Livin’ End”.

The timeline is the Six Soul Survivors and then the Endless Chain. We never worked as "The Livin' End” - it was done on a whim, out of the blue and for kicks.

ecinaction1

 

The "Chain" in action (from left to right): Paul, Julian Sparacino on sax, Donnie Kittrell on drums, Frank Morris on guitar and Gary Knight on bass. Picture taken at the Naval Air Station EM Club '66 or '67.

 

The instruments are as follows (I am 99.9% sure here): “Soul Ghost” - Paul played the distorted guitar (playing single notes) and made a few vocal noises; George Soule played drums and organ and did most of the engineering (yes, Soule even ran two recorders together since we didn't have a multi-track); Gary Knight played bass, did spooky sounds, and played the piano strings with a guitar pick; yours truly played lead guitar and made a few vocal noises.

On “Groovin’” the instruments are the same except Paul played various percussions - and the saw! That was absolutely the funniest thing we had ever seen. Paul found a saw, picked it up and started playing. I don't remember how long it took us to compose ourselves so we could finish the project but it was a while. Anyway, this was done in 66.

As far as contact with Paul, I haven't seen or heard from him since December of 1984 when he and I played golf together. I moved to the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area in 1985 and am still here. My main business these days is computers. Our business site is

www.pcsinparadise.com

I haven't gigged in several years but do carry lots of memories.

www.frankieg.us

Fast forward now to the 1980s...

NICK NICKERSON, CLEVELAND, GEORGIA

In the 1980's I was an investment broker for Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. (eventually was merged into Morgan Stanley). We worked at Phipps Plaza at 3500 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia. Musicians, songwriters, and entertainers were a group of folks that I loved, and one of my friends and clients was (Paul's producer) Ed Seay.

He knew I loved Paul Davis and was kind enough to let me meet Paul at Bang Records studio on Chershire Bridge Rd. Ed introduced me to Paul and what I remember is how kind he was to me. He treated me as if he'd known me all his life and signed his album I had with me. I'm from the South and we're known for our accent and slow Southern drawl, but Paul actually shocked me at how slowly he talked! I guess folks from Georgia are speed linguists compared to Paul's Mississippi. His accent is truly Southern and is now rapidly dissapearing in our new homogenized area.

Slow, calm, deliberate, kind... he captivated me in about two seconds. .

My next memory was the concert he performed at the Fabulous Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. I think they advertised Juice Newton as the lead act. She had some hit or another and Paul had less name recognition. Anyway, when Paul performed, he (in my opinion) blew Juice Newton off the stage! The crowd went wild for him!

He moved to Nashville sometime in the mid-eighties and I lost contact, but was always looking for his next song of album.

I'm glad to know (from what you've said) that he's doing well now and still fishing up a storm. I miss him and his music. God bless his heart!

 

Now, the recollections of a musician who worked closely with Paul during what might have been his only major cross-country concert tour.

ROBERT DUNCAN:

 

 

I played piano and synth for Paul Davis back in the early '80s. Back then I was part of a local Atlanta band, a group of very talented singers and songwriters who worked as back-up musicians for Atlanta singer, Teddy Baker. Our vocals were among the best out there, considering literally everyone in the band was equally strong singing lead or back-up. Paul Davis took notice of this, and along with Ed Seay, pulled our band in to back Paul up for what may be the only tour he ever did, promoting the Cool Night album. Paul did not like to fly so we did the tour bus thing, traveling across the country performing concerts with the Beach Boys, Juice Newton, and the Little River Band, among others of that era. We appeared on American Bandstand and Solid Gold in LA, then worked our way back to Atlanta.

One of the biggest thrills of my life was when Paul and I collaborated on a song I had been writing called "Love's Got a Hold On Me." Needless to say, Paul was and still is the strongest songwriting influence in my life. He taught me the importance of melody, and how the simplicity of melody in a song is the greatest factor in the longevity of it. That's why to this day people still love his music.

I will always be grateful to have had the pleasure of working with Paul and bass fishing with him. I was compelled to drop you a note when I logged on to the Paul Davis website you have and give you a little background on my relationship with Paul. Being from Mississippi, Paul had the knack for being extremely calm when things got crazy. I remember I had a habit of breaking the strings on the Yamaha Electric Grand in our concerts, and I will always remember one concert when that happened, as the stage crew scurried out to pop open the piano and pull the dead string out, Paul turned to the audience and very dryly with that Mississippi drawl said: "You'll have to excuse our piano player, he's Conan the Barbarian".

Paul's intentional disassociation with the whole pop music scene was always something I respected about him. Paul is Paul, a great songwriter and singer who just loves to fish.

On a special note, our drummer, Ben Rappa, who not only was a great drummer and songwriter but also had an incredible singing voice, passed away last year (May, 2004). I dedicate this memory of Paul to the one and only Ben Rappa. Peace to all - Robert Duncan

The year of our tour was 1983. The band consisted of the following:

Paul Davis, center stage on Rhodes piano

Red Dog Titus on Bass and vocals

Frankie Robbins on Drums

Benny Rappa on Drums and vocals (Benny sang the low "YEAH" on '65 Love Affair)

Robert Duncan on Grand Piano, Roland Jupiter 8 Keyboard, and vocals

Steve Childers on Strings and Synthesizer

Steve "Spike" Hardwick on Electric Guitar

 

I

JANET ROSS

Janet sent these memories of the time when she was a schoolmate of Paul Davis

 

I knew Paul Davis when he was in the 8th grade in Cleveland Elementary School in Kemper County, Mississippi, about 1962-63 school year. I was in the 7th grade then, and I didn't know exactly what happened to him after all the county schools were consolidated into Dekalb High School and Elementary about that time.

Paul's father was a minister, and I don't think Paul had any siblings, at least none that went to our school, which only had classes up through the 8th grade. It was a small country school from the surrounding rural area and I think he only attended that year. My family was Southern Baptist, but I don't know what denomination Paul's father ministered in, nor do I remember hearing what his father's name was at the time. I can only gather his father went where he felt the call to preach, and Paul eventually went back to Meridian where he’d been born April 21, 1948.

Paul's best friend, Mark Clay was in my grade and Mark just lived a little piece down the highway from Paul.

He rode to school on a light blue and white motor scooter and at recess he was often giving people rides. He was a good basketball player as I recall, but I don't remember how he did in track nor baseball. It was a country school and recess was the favorite sport!

I do remember he and Mark were interrupting a volley ball game I and a few others were doing at recess, and I remember the principal, Howard Carroll, laughing at me for being a tattletale at 13, trying to get them to leave us alone.

I had a crush on Mark since we were in 4th grade, but he didn't like me the same, and at first I thought Paul was a nuisance to a point, because wherever Mark was during recess, Paul was there; but most of the older girls liked him, and the boys thought he was an alright guy. He always seemed to be in the middle of things, but he and Mark were close, it seemed, more than with any of the other guys.

Paul didn't talk much, but he stood out in the group because he rode the scooter, had the current duck tail hair style, and he was quietly friendly and polite, except to me, because he liked to tease.

I don't know how he did academically. That was my thing and I eventually became valedictorian in my senior class in Dekalb High, but Paul had moved from the area by the time the rural schools were all consolidated. He was probably smarter than I realized, because I sure didn't know he was such a good singer and song writer - I wish he would do some more writing and singing, if his voice is still good at about 58.

I always wish him well in whatever he is doing now. He was a sweet, sensitive guy… I am glad he is enjoying life fishing and I miss him doing more music, but maybe he just wants to enjoy his family and stay out of the lime light.

Here's a great story from Meridian, MS...

CHUCK CLIBURN, TALLAHASSEE, FLA:

I moved to Meridian, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964. My dad was the Minister of Andrew’s Chapel Methodist Church just north of town. I was thirteen. I was learning to play guitar and later that year started a band with a friend of mine, Kenny Suire.

Within a year or so, everyone was talking about the Six Soul Survivors and what a great band they were. They were several years older than us and went to a different school.

I finally got to hear them play at the Meridian Teen Center on a Saturday night in, I believe, 1966. I went with a friend of mine, another one of our band members - Bob Henry. He was old enough to drive and I wasn't.

I will never forget that night. They were incredible. They had a sax, a trumpet, an organ (Paul Davis), guitar, bass and a very good drummer. They played mainly Sam and Dave and Otis Redding-type stuff but lots of top 40 as well. I just did not know that music could sound that good until that night.

I remember everything about that night, the way their equipment was arranged, the color of the guitar (white), their lights and even the smell of the teen center (a blend of Jade East and English Leather).

I heard them play numerous other times after that, usually at the "KC" Hall. They were so good that at these teen dances, most of the kids would just sit and listen in chairs arranged in a semi-circle around the stage rather than dance.

I too had their record Gotta Find A Way / It's Over My Head but eventually lost it in one my many moves.

I moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, after the 11th grade but returned to Mississippi to attend college and to marry my high school sweetheart, Madelyn Pratt. I have been in the information technology field for 30 years now, but still play my guitar, my keyboard and still love old rock music.

I write and record songs as a hobby. The following is from one my songs referring to the first time I heard Paul Davis and the Six Soul Survivors play.

I was thirteen, I had my own six-string

Me and my friends, we would play and we'd sing.

One summer night, I heard the Six Souls play,

Just the way I wanted to play.

 

 

To Meridian, MS, in the mid-sixties...

JIM WYCHE, TN:

A little known fact about Paul Davis is what I believe to be his first record. The two sides were "It's Over My Head" and "Gotta Find a Way". The record was done in an empty grocery store that had a makeshift studio installed. It was done in the North Hills section of Meridian, Mississippi,in 1966-1967.

A man named Bob Reetz produced the records. The label read “Paul Davis and the Six Soul Survivors”. (This was prior to the other group called the Soul Survivors) There was a moment of controversy about Paul's name being featured...but it passed quickly.

I had a copy of that record until about 1979 when a mover crunched it underfoot. I could have cried.

That was a great time for me because I played organ on that recording. They needed a keyboard and I worked at a music store (Peavey Melody Music on 8th St. in Meridian...yes, the same Peavey as Peavey Electronics) that Paul and his band frequented. It was a convenience thing.

I had been demonstrating organs for the music store, mostly to potential customers and members of the Baldwin Music Club. These were primarily middle-aged and elderly people. Baldwin was pushing the Music Clubs as a marketing tool to that age group, featuring an “easy to play” program of chording called, “The Pointer System”. Anyway, I was used to playing songs from the 30’s and 40’s for this group, even though I was still a teenager. That meant using the bass pedals on the organ.

Well, after the first run-through, Bob and Paul were confused by what seemed to be an additional bass line on the tape. Sure enough, it was me! Paul came over and very kindly reminded me that they had a bass guitar for that part and please keep my feet off the pedals! It’s hard to be cool when I didn’t know that…

Paul was very mellow and patient with me and I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

For me, music is now a hobby. When I left Meridian in 1970 it was with my wife, Jayne and baby son, Nicholas. I went to college in Tennessee, got a degree in education, then a Masters at Loma Linda University, in Riverside, California. I was an educator for twenty years and now work in Adult Education as does my son. Jayne also works at a local University.

Next, more memories of Paul's early musical career, probably around 1967

 

BOB VOGELZANG, ELKHART, INDIANA

I enjoyed your site.  I often wondered what happened to the Six Soul Survivors.  I met them at the club on the Navy base in Meridian.  Remember great times, great music and jokes about renaming the band "The Endless Chain" because you never knew for sure how many of them might be there on a given night.  Every time that I hear "Sweet Soul Music" it takes me back to them at the club.

Bob