I learned today of the death of Craig Davis, a truly talented and prolific musician, songwriter, and artist. My history with Craig is long and complicated.
I actually first knew Craig when I was a child as he was friends with my uncle and aunt, Mike and Patricia Cooper who were like second parents to me, and my cousin Casey who was like a brother. I spent every school break I could in Austin visiting them and many times that would involve them visiting with Craig as well.
Cut to many years later, Dawn Lee Wakefield contacted me saying that Craig needed a backing band to do a show at The Palace Theater in Bryan, TX and was wondering if the band I was with, The Rock-A-Fellas would do it. I agreed enthusiastically (actually it turns out the story was far more complicated than I remembered but luckily I documented in detail here). I can’t remember if I had heard Craig’s music at that point or not, but once I listened to it, I was super excited to play it. For some reason I can’t recall, we had initially planned it with another drummer, but sadly he had to back out at the last minute. Our drummer Craig Knight, set about cramming and trying to learn all these original songs in the course of an afternoon I believe it was, and we did the show and it was a blast. Even though Craig was himself a great lead player and had played all the leads on his recordings, he told me to take lead guitar duties which I think says a lot about him right there. I loved his unique, melodic leads and was thrilled to play them.
After that, Craig and I started collaborating even though he lived in Austin, and I was still in College Station at the time. He was extremely prolific and wrote songs at a amazing pace. I was also married at that time and my wife and I had decided to move to Austin. We rented a moving truck and Craig also drove up and helped us with the move. Once settled in Austin, I did some studio sessions with him, and did a lot of home recording where he would send me skeletons of songs and I would take them and produce them into full blown productions. Sadly most of this work would never see the light of day and I still consider it some of the best work I’ve ever been involved in.
Craig was also the one who put me back in touch with Wally Williams, an old family friend which led to me doing some very fun work with Tequila Mockingbird studios here in Austin.
Craig and I played a few times publicly. We played a few originals on a local morning news show. We played at the funeral of Tommy Smith, a childhood neighbor and musician in my home town and one of earliest influences as a guitar player. We talked about starting a band called “The Toreadors” and buying some cool “London Opera Coats” to wear on stage. I used some of his songs in the first short film I ever wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, as well as in later films.
A little while later, Craig and I would have a falling out over various personal and creative issues that we never really recovered from. I still look back very fondly on the time I spent creating with Craig and know that it was some my best work. His songs were always catchy, great original tunes.
Dawn Lee Wakefield wrote a beautiful and thorough article on him here.
It’s always been strange to me how even if I haven’t been in contact with someone for years or even decades, that when I hear of their death, I can feel the hole in the world. The silence where their energy used to be. I suppose that’s because everyone we cross paths with in this life becomes at least a tiny part of who we are. To quote one of Craig’s own songs, “I’ll see you on Revolution Road.” Rest in peace and may your music live on forever. It has definitely had a permanent influence on me.