Born in 1952 in Los Angeles, CA, Debbie Davies was exposed to the music scene at an early age through her musician parents (her father wrote arrangements for Ray Charles and made sessions with such industry heavyweights as Frank Sinatra and Pearl Bailey). She came up playing in blues and rock ‘n’ roll bands in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to Los Angeles in 1984 and landing the lead guitar spot a year later in Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, an all female R&B band led by the wife of British blues pioneer John Mayall (Debbie later performed on John Mayall’s 1990 album A Sense of Place). In 1988, she was drafted into Albert Collins & the Icebreakers and for the next three years was featured guitarist, performing night after night behind one of the most innovative blues legends of all time. She appeared on Collins’ 1991 Grammy-nominated self-titled release for Point Blank/Virgin Records.
“Working with Albert has definitely affected my playing,” she told Guitar World in a 1989 interview. “It’s really pushed me a lot because he just wants you to put it all into your solo every time you play—just like he does. There’s no laying back with Albert. He comes out and tears it up, and he likes everybody who takes a solo to try to kick his ass. And just observing how he works the audience and really reaches out to the people has been really inspiring and I think there’s a whole other talent being able to make that connection with the people while still pulling out what you feel and putting it into your playing. That’s what Albert does and I hope that I am learning that.”
In the summer of 1991, Davies became lead guitarist for Fingers Taylor and the Ladyfinger Revue, which served as the opening act on Jimmy Buffett’s “Outpost” tour. In September of that same year, she formed her own band and in 1993, she came out with her solo debut release, Picture This, which featured a cameo appearance by Collins on “I Wonder Why.” Later that year, Collins died of cancer at the age of 61.
Davies stuck closely to a blues format on her follow-up album, 1994’s Loose Tonight, but began to broaden her range on her 1997 release,
I’ve Got That Feeling, which featured duets with Louisiana Blues guitarist Tab Benoit and Albert Collins alumni and longtime guitar colleague Coco Montoya. A year later, she recorded Grand Union with Otis Grand and Anson Funderburgh. Davies has been nominated seven times for a W. C. Handy Award and won the W.C. Handy Award for best contemporary female blues artist in 1997.
She branched out stylistically on her 1998 release Round Every Corner, then returned to the aggressive guitar player mode on 1999’s Tales from the Austin Motel, a collaboration with the Double Trouble rhythm tandem of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon that earned her a W.C. Handy nomination. That same year, Davies was featured on Telarc’s Homesick for the Road, a heavyweight blues summit with guitarists Kenny Neal and Tab Benoit.
In 2001, Davies returned home to her regular working band of drummer Don Castagno and bassist Alan J. Hager on Love the Game. Produced by seasoned blues veteran and fellow guitarist Duke Robillard, Davies’ was augmented by special guest appearances from Robillard, Jay Geils, pianist Bruce Katz, saxophonists Doug James and Sax Gordon Beadle and Coco Montoya. Key to Love: A Celebration of the Music of John Mayall was released in 2003.
All I Found, Davies’ Telarc debut, is set for June 2005. Her eighth outing as frontwoman finds the guitarist/singer/songwriter at the top of her game on an album of all-original material crafted by Davies and songwriting partner Don Costagno.