By Anita Miller
Danny Davis was born to a musically inclined family. “At the age of four and five years, I could be seen sitting on tables at Tootsie’s, where I saw Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Faron Young and other performers,” he says. “When I was five years old, I played drums on the Ryman Stage, at that time the Grand Ole Opry Stage, with Billy Grammer in 1969.” The son of Ralph and Sue Sharp Davis, Danny was born in 1964 in Nashville, TN. His father Ralph was a Grand Ole Opry rhythm guitarist, and Danny began his music career through immersion in the family vocation, since his father and two uncles played professionally and toured with many Nashville artists.
From 1972 to 1982, as a child living in Waynesboro, Danny would accompany his dad to the Grand Ole Opry and hang out in the backstage area of dressing rooms and lockers. There he got to know Roy Acuff, whose dressing room door was always open to visitors. Roy gave him a ukulele, some stage shoes and numerous yoyos, all of which he still has. Danny and a cousin would scamper over a dividing fence into Opryland and back over in time for the Grand Ole Opry show.
Danny’s teenage years were spent playing every Saturday night in the Natural Bridge Band with his uncle Kenneth Davis, Larry Kirkland, Jimmy Powell, Devon Land, Ricky Land and Crystal Land. The band played with George Jones, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. Danny also played seven days a week in the Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch Band with Larry Kirkland, Uncle Kenneth and Tim Cummins of Waynesboro.
In 1981, Danny began playing with Skeeter Davis. Starting the next year, he played with Ernest Tubb for six months until Tubb took ill with emphysema and his son, Justin, took over the band, The Texas Troubadours. Danny played drums for three years with Jean Sheppard. After that, he switched to playing bass with Porter Wagoner, with whom he later recorded. Danny explained his instrument switch, “The drums are too much to carry around, too heavy.” He performed nineteen years with Porter Wagoner at the Grand Ole Opry and on tour, and is on all of Wagoner’s albums from 2000 to 2008.
Danny’s list of star-studded performances goes on and on. He has played and sung duets with Jeannie Seely since 1996, and has been second bass in the Grand Ole Opry staff band since 2000. He has played with over one hundred artists, including Rita Coolidge, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price and Rodney Atkins. Danny also played in the Grand Ole Opry debuts of Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Luke Bryan. He has performed in Nashville at the Broken Spoke Saloon, Rose Room and Real Country. He played at George Jones’ funeral last year, along with Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, Ronnie Milsap and Patty Loveless.
On his own, Danny recorded an album on the OKLA label for CMM records and has released three singles. Currently, he is recording an album of western swing music with Joe Babcock. He also does the usual demo sessions with lots of artists and speculative or custom projects.
He is now back in Waynesboro and married to Beth Corn. They have a six-year-old son, who is also musically inclined. Danny says, “He walks around playing the harmonica and plays the guitar and drums.”
Danny’s favorite memory is of traveling around the world. His favorite place is Japan, which he says has low crime and interesting sights. Danny has memories of being in every continental state in the USA four to six times each. He recalls traveling north or northwest, including Fargo, ND, and seeing snowdrifts eight to ten feet high. “Each state has a different culture,” he says. Danny also recalls traveling from one end of Canada to the other with Porter Wagoner.
You can see Danny playing at the Grand Ole Opry during the week!
Anita Miller is an Ambassador with the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce researching the musical history of Wayne County.