When touring troubadour Kevin Welch received the news that old mate Ron Davies died in Nashville on Thursday October 30 he performed his dedication at his Geelong concert on Saturday November 1.

The singer, making his fifth Australian tour, learned of Davies death after his concert at the Corner Hotel, Richmond, the night before. CLICK HERE TO READ KEVIN'S TRIBUTE

Welch, 48, performed Davies songs 'It Ain't Easy' that David Bowie and Three Dog Night covered and 'Waitin' On A Dark Eyed Girl' that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cut on their 1990 disc, 'The Rest Of The Dream.'

Davies, 57, was the older brother of acclaimed country singer Gail Davies who produced the Webb Pierce tribute album Caught In The Webb.

It was deja vu for Welch and his promoter Rob Hall - Welch was set to produce Waylon Jennings' new album when he died at 64 on February 13, 2001.

It was less than a month before the death at 74 of Welch's mentor - five times wed Harlan Howard - on March 3.

Ironically, Welch performed a duet with one of Harlan's former singing spouses Jan on 'Even Though' on 'Caught In The Webb' and another with Pierce's daughter Deborah on 'Why Baby Why.

'But I digress.

Hall learned of Waylon's death near Benalla on Highway 31 while driving Texan mentor Billy Joe Shaver, firing on just one heart artery, to a concert in Albury.

Hall pulled his Tarago into a truck stop at Baddaginnie and broke the news to Billy Joe's touring partners - singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman and Little Jewford who had until then been enjoying my chauffeurial role in the matching Tarrago.

Shaver and touring mates performed Waylon eulogies at their concerts and held a wake in Canberra.


Ron Davies, the older brother of acclaimed singer-songwriter Gail Davies, died at his home in Nashville of a heart attack.

While less celebrated in music circles than his sister, Davies was the family's artistic trailblazer.

At 17, he launched his career by writing an entire album for the Wailers, the Seattle-based rock band best known for its 1959 hit, 'Tall Cool One.'

His songs were recorded by David Bowie, Three Dog Night, Joe Cocker, Dave Edmunds, Anne Murray, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Jerry Jeff Walker and many others.

His most famous compositions are 'It Ain't Easy' recorded by Three Dog Night and
David Bowie, 'Long, Hard Climb' for Helen Reddy and Maria Muldaur, 'The Man I Used to Be' for Jerry Jeff Walker and 'Waitin' On A Dark-Eyed Girl' for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.


Ron's father, local country singer Tex Dickerson, often took his eldest son to see and hear such legends as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Red Foley and Johnny & Jack.
Ron took the name Davies after being adopted by his stepfather, Darby Alan Davies.
Davies was given his first guitar when he was 11 and immediately began writing songs.
After his success with the Wailers, he signed to A&M Records.

His first album for the label was 'Silent Song Through the Land.'

He followed it with 'U. F. O,' produced by Grammy-winner Tommy Vicarri.

In the 1980s, Davies moved to Nashville, where he became a writer for Cedarwood Publishing and later for Warner/Chappell.

In 1999, he played the lead role in George Jones' music video, for the Jamie O'Hara song 'Cold Hard Truth.'

He has since released two prophetically titled indie solo albums 'Lucky To Be Alive' and 'Where Does The Time Go?'


Ron also had his songs recorded by such diverse acts as Anne Murray, Three Dog Night, Dobie Gray, Kevin Welch, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Joe Cocker, Long John Baldry, Dave Edmunds, Merry Clayton, Maria Muldaur and sister Gail.

"Ron seems surprised that anyone would want to talk to him about his musical career that spans the past 35 years," wrote English journalist Alan Cackett, "he was a genius of rhyme and melody, Ron has been called 'the quintessential poet' and 'the songwriter's writer.' Though I first met Ron in Nashville a couple of years ago, there was no time then to sit down and talk about his somewhat colourful and chequered career. We tried several times to hook up, but it was not until this summer that I finally persuaded the man to open up about his life."


Ironically, Davies was born in Shreveport - also the birthplace of fellow hell raiser Hank Williams Jr.

Patriarch Tex Dickerson - a singer from Texarkana performed on the Louisiana Hayride. As a child, Ron often accompanied his dad to the show tapings, listening in the wings to the music of legendary artists like Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Red Foley and Johnny & Jack. He spent the early years of his life in the Texas/Oklahoma area. It was a tough life.

His father lived the fast life of a musician.

When he was eight years old Ron moved with his mother, sister and younger brother, to Washington state where he grew up. His name was eventually changed from Dickerson to Davies when his mother remarried and his stepfather adopted her three children.

At the age of eleven, Ron was given his first guitar and immediately began writing his own songs. Influenced by the music of Lavern Baker, Huey 'Piano' Smith, the Everly Brothers and the melodies of such great songwriters as Boudleaux & Felix Bryant, Ron's songs took on a sophistication in composition that was uncommon for his age.


By the time he was seventeen, he had written an album's worth of stellar material for Seattle-based, rock band, 'The Wailers,' who had scored a top 40 American pop hit with their instrumental 'Tall Cool One,' in 1959, and again five years later, when reissued. Ron's unique singing and writing ability (referred to by Joan Baez as a cross between Bob Dylan and John Lennon) came to the attention of A&M records. He was encouraged to move to Los Angeles, where he recorded his first solo album, Silent Song Through The Land.

Produced by Chad Stewart and featuring such top West Coast session musicians as Jim Keltner and Leon Russell, the record included his gritty, blues standard, 'It Ain't Easy.'
His career received a major boost when 'Three Dog Night,' one of the hottest rock bands of the time, decided not only to record his song, but to make 'It Ain't Easy' the title of their million-selling 1970 album. Ron's song also gained international fame when David Bowie included it on his landmark Ziggy Stardust album.


Ron's songs were being recorded by Joe Cocker, Helen Reddy, Dave Edmunds, Maria Muldaur and Steppenwolf's John Kay. With this new-found success, A&M decided to team Ron up with Grammy award-winning producer, Tommy Vicarri, for his second album, U.F.O. He had such impressive musicians as Billy Preston, David Spinoza, Wilton Felder, Andy Newmark, Clarence McDonald and the Rolling Stones.

It was a masterpiece album that inspired John Bream of Rock Magazine, to declare Ron Davies, The Best New Songwriter of the Year.


In the late 1980s, Ron moved to Nashville, Tennessee to write for Cedarwood Publishing and later for Warner/Chappell His writing was quickly recognised as two compositions appeared on the Grammy nominated Joan Baez album Play Me Backwards.

"'Nashville has a small town vibe, and after years in Los Angeles, I just wanted to get out of that big city traffic, the smog and all that," he revealed. "I didn't have a publishing deal for quite some time in LA. I'd just stopped writing. I had a lot of friends in the music and I found that everybody was just so friendly, I think I met more people in the first six months living in Nashville than I had in years living in LA. I like it because it's just a small-town city, and yet it's a major hub and really hums. So I get to meet new friends here and just hang out with all these writers."

Nashville proved to be new beginning for him, though he discounts his writing successes as being worthy of any public recognition.


"There were a couple of things I worked on with Townes Van Zandt," he recalled, "that we never got to finish. We always talked about getting back together, but never found the time. Everybody kind of expected him to go for some other causes because of how he lived, but not like that.' recalling Townes' death from a heart attack in 1997.

Ron hung out with those writers and artists on the fringe of the mainstream. One of his cuts that he was most proud of is 'Lay Down Your Burdens' by Joe Cocker. It got rave media reviews when advances of the album were sent out, but was pulled from the final album due to some conflict of interest with the producer, so now lays gathering dust in the record company vaults.


Another one is 'The Man I Used To Be,' recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker.

"Guy Clark and me had been playing some guitar in a motel room in Nashville," Ron revealed, "and I played the song, and he said, "I really like it, can you let me have a tape of it." About a month later, Jerry Jeff calls me. I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke, but it really was him. He said that he would like to cut The Man He Used To Be. You can pitch a song forever in this town, but if you give a tape to a friend, you never know where it's going to wind up."

Apart from a brief period in the 1980s, Ron has been signed to publishing companies, large and small, for most of his adult life, but they have rarely successfully pitched his songs to artists.


"I can't think of one publisher getting me a cut," he said, "The cuts that I've had were the things like the Guy Clark connection.

My friend Kevin Welch liked a song of mine, 'Waitin' On A Dark Eyed Girl.' He recorded it, but it didn't work out. Then Jeff Hanna, one of the guys in the Dirt Band, heard it and they recorded it. Later Jeff and I wrote some songs together, which the Dirt Band didn't record."

'Waitin' On A Dark Eyed Girl' was included on Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 1990 album 'The Rest Of the Dream.' More recently, Ron had some country chart success with 'Drive Me Crazy,' a song recorded by the Thompson Brothers Band.

"It was something I wrote with a friend of mine, Ron Kimbro and Michael Whitty from the band," he says, "Kimbro introduced me to those guys."

Ron Kimbro is also the weekend bartender at Brown's Diner where Davies
often lived. Davies and Kimbro were best friends and wrote many songs


A couple of years ago Ron won his first acting role as the lead character in the classic George Jones video, 'Cold Hard Truth.' He was a familiar figure at the Nashville music haunts, often performing at Songwriter shows at Douglas Corner and the Bluebird Café.

He has also been busy performing across America in support of his self-released album, Lucky to Be Alive, through his own Cogent Music. (Available from PO Box 120063, Nashville, Tennessee 37212 - e-mail rdcogent@aol.com


Davies had the last word on his writing career which he punctuated with long sessions at Browns bar in Nashville where he hung out with Welch.

"Unless you're down on Music Row everyday you can soon lose contact," he explained, "I think now that I've got more than enough material to go down and beat on some doors and get some cuts again. But, of course, it's always gonna be a little tough because I write such a variety of songs, everything from real roots country to pop and country-rock."

CLICK HERE for GAIL DAVIES interview and feature

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