Wild Bill Davison

Biography

Wild Bill (William Edward) Davison was born in Defiance, Ohio on the 5th of January 1906. Starting in the early 1920's he began to build his career with various bands including Ben Meroff's Chicago-based orchestra (where he first met guitarist Eddie Condon).

For most of the 1930's he was in Milwaukee, billed as "Trumpet King" Davison, and despite a lip injury in 1939 (he was hit in the mouth, appropriately for Milwaukee, by a flying beer mug) had arrived in New York by 1941. There he worked in Nick's saloon and with an Original Dixieland Jazz Band re-creation for the Katherine Dunham show which culminated in his recording 12 sides for the Commodore label a week before his 38th birthday in 1944.

He recorded some brilliant sessions with George Brunis indicating he had finally found his own style. In 1945 he joined Eddie Condon's house band, and those long nights and hard musical pace at Condon's club made him a commanding front man, a tough and reliable lead cornetist that Condon could count on; above all an original.

Along with gold-standard Condon recordings and quartet dates of his own , by 1960 Davison was a soloist. Despite his regular reunions with Condon he began a new lifetime pattern of bandleading and touring, appearing between 1965 and 1975 with over 100 bands and recording over 20 new albums. In England he toured and recorded with Alex Welsh, Fred Hunt and Lennie Hastings, and in the 1970's moved to Denmark. He was still globetrotting in 1983 and after a short illness in 1983 played in the 1985 jazz festivals and toured England in 1986. He died on November 14th 1989 at the age of 83.