Davis was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 19, 1934, and attended Englewood High School. He began working as an assistant to disc jockey Al Benson on radio station WGES in 1955, and then joined a record marketing company. In the early 1960s, he helped run the small Nat record label which had a local hit with the song "Nite Owl" by the DuKays, produced by Davis. A follow-up release, "Duke of Earl", which he also produced, was credited to the group's lead singer Gene Chandler, and became a national no. 1 hit after being leased to the larger Vee-Jay label.
In 1962, he began working as a producer and A&R director for the Columbia subsidiary label OKeh, where he produced a number of hit records for Major Lance, Billy Butler, and Walter Jackson. Many were characterized as "peppy, brassy arrangements... and danceable, upbeat songs with a Latin tinge," often using songs written by Curtis Mayfield that Mayfield felt were inappropriate for his own group, The Impressions. He also continued to produce records for Gene Chandler and The Artistics, and produced Mary Wells after she left Motown.
In the mid-1960s, he began working for Brunswick Records, where he produced Jackie Wilson's comeback hit, "Whispers" and the million-seller, "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Barbara Acklin's "Love Makes a Woman", as well as several early hits by The Chi-Lites. He also formed the Dakar label, which had a long run of hits with Tyrone Davis (no relation), including "Can I Change My Mind" and "Turn Back the Hands of Time," and also found success with Hamilton Bohannon.
When the Dakar label folded in 1976, he formed Chi Sound Records, continuing to find success with Walter Jackson and having a major hit single in 1978 with Gene Chandler's "Get Down". After a distribution deal with 20th Century Records ended in 1981, he used independent distribution for two years before closing Chi Sound down. The company had a brief revival in 1989-90 before re-opening in 2007, and remained active until his death.
Davis died from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 77, in his home in Summerville, South Carolina on the morning of August 9, 2012. On February 11, 2013, he was honored during the 55th Grammy Awards ceremony. His biography, "The Man Behind the Music: The Legendary Carl Davis", was published in May 2011, by Life To Legacy, LLC, Matteson IL.
For the U.K. based, american conductor - composer of classical and cinematic music, please use Carl Davis (5)
- 274 Writing & Arrangement
- 1 Featuring & Presenting
- 1 Conducting & Leading
- 440 Production
- 2 Technical
- 3 Acting, Literary & Spoken
|GVCD 3027, 093.027-2||Carl Davis||Chicago Soul Survey (28 Classics From The Golden Age Of Soul) (CD, Comp)||Grapevine, Grapevine||GVCD 3027, 093.027-2||UK||2005||Sell This Version|