Debbie Davies is one of the most interesting and talented of all the women of contemporary blues. She is one of the first women from the ’60s, to pick up an electric guitar and learn to jam with the best. Although blues legends like Memphis Minnie and Rosetta Tharpe, had paved the way for female blues guitarists and singers, women who played electric guitar in the ’60s were scarce. Most female musicians of the era, preferred or perhaps felt limited to acoustic guitars, but this, even in retrospect, seems inadvertent. Having grown up in a family of eclectic musical taste, and in a decade when music was transforming and becoming a major influence in society, Debbie’s blues education came somewhat osmotically. She loved listening to her father’s Ray Charles albums and became partial to blues. When she was later introduced to the music of Eric Clapton and John Mayall, her mind was made up. She picked up the electric guitar and never looked back.
Debbie Davies grew up in Los Angeles, a Mecca for musicians of the ’60s. She was surrounded by the music of the era like Cream, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors. She honed her skills by playing with various bands in the San Francisco Bay Area but returned to her hometown to join a band formed by John Mayall’s wife called Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, an all-female band. She also played with Fingers Taylor and the Ladyfinger Revue, who opened for Jimmy Buffet during his 1991 tour. Her hard work paid off when she was recruited by the legendary Albert Collins to go on your with his band, the Icebreakers.
Collin’s being experienced on the road was well known and loved at all the truck stops and diners they stopped at between gigs. They often arrived at gigs just shortly before it was time to go on. A set playlist was not his forte and Debbie soon learned to pick up on cues as to which song they were doing next. She describes the Icebreakers as one of the most powerful bands she ever played with.
In 1993 Debbie Davis debuted her first solo release called Picture This on Blind Pig records. Following that was Blues Blast, an energetic collaboration which also featured two other legendary guitarists Tab Benoit, Coco Montoya, and renowned harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. In 2009 she recorded Holdin’ Court, an entirely instrumental album. In 2012 she recorded an album of all original songs called After the Fall and another all-original album in 2015 called Love Spin.
In 1997 and 2010 Debbie Davis was nominated for and won an award for Best Female Blues Artist. John Mayall has been quoted saying, “I believe my reputation backs up my ability to recognize exceptional blues guitarists. Such a one us Debbie Davies.” Coco Montoya was quoted saying, ” She knows what the blues are all about and you can hear it in the passion of her playing.” It is no doubt that Debbie Davies is highly respected and talented in the blues world and truly ranks highly among the best.