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New album highlights songs of former Port Orchard resident Ron Davies

'Unsung Hero: A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies' was released March 25. Davies is a former South Kitsap High School student and Port Orchard resident.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of RonDavies.com

A new album released last week highlights songwriter Ron Davies, a former Port Orchard resident.

“Unsung Hero - A Tribute To The Music of Ron Davies” was released March 25. Proceeds from the album will benefit the Nashville-based W.O. Smith Music School and will provide instruments and lessons to underprivileged children.

The album was released by is younger sister is country music singer/songwriter Gail Davies.

W.O. Smith, who died in 1991, was the professor of music at Tennessee State University, a member of the Nashville Symphony, and a noted jazz bassist.  He played with the great jazz players of the time, including Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

He had a dream that by offering musical instruction to low-income families that these children could change their lives also.

In 1984, his dream became a reality, when the W.O. Smith Music School opened its doors.

It has grown from 45 students in 1984  to over 650 in 2013.

The album features 22 of Davies’ finest compositions recorded by some of his favorite artists, including Dolly Parton, John Prine, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Shelby Lynne, Delbert McClinton, Crystal Gayle and others.

Davies, who attended South Kitsap High School, died of a heart attack at age 57 in 2003.

Davies as born in Shreveport, La., and is the son of country singer Tex Dickerson. After his parents move to Kitsap County, they divorced. His mother remarried and Ron took the name Davies after he was adopted by his stepfather, Darby Davies.

He started playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 11.

Davies dropped out of high school and joined the Army.

By the time he was 17, Ron had written an album’s worth of excellent material for a Tacoma-based band called, The Wailers. One of the first singles released from this album, “It’s You Alone,” became a regional hit for the band and put Davies on the map as a songwriter.

At 20, Davies signed with A&M Records and recorded his first album, “Silent Song Through The Land” and later, “U.F.O.”

According to Davies’ website, he wrote more than 600 songs. One of his best known compositions, “It Ain't Easy,” was released in 1970 on Davies’ debut album, “Silent Song Through The Land.” Since then, the song has been recorded by numerous artists including Three Dog Night, Dave Edmunds, Long John Baldry and most notably by David Bowie on his 1972 concept album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars”.

Another of Davies' signature songs was “Long Hard Climb,” the title of a platinum-selling Helen Reddy album in 1973 and also appeared in 1974 on Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight On The Oasis.”

John Kay (of Steppenwolf), Dave Edmunds, Maria Muldaur, Helen Reddy, Chris Smithers, Long John Baldry, Joe Cocker, Mitch Ryder and Merry Clayton are only a few of the artists who have recorded Davies’ songs.

In the late 1980s, he moved to Nashville to write for Cedarwood Publishing. His songs have since been recorded by Anne Murray, Dobie Gray, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, The Thompson Brothers Band, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Gail Davies.

Two of Davies’ songs appeared on the Grammy-nominated Joan Baez album, “Play Me Backwards.” He also starred as the lead character in the George Jones video, “Cold Hard Truth” in 1999.

 

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