JOHN t. DAVIS
Master of The Hammond B3 Organ, Keyboardist, Songwriter, Composer, Singer & Creator
John T Davis was an iconoclast and an Unsung Toronto Musical Legend.
Born June 17, 1945, John T (as he was commonly known) was a burly, squat, black man, who in his younger days looked more like a wrestler than a musician. And when he sat down at that Hammond B3, JT played that instrument like he was taming a wild horse, wrestling a bronco, or making sweet love... He owned it! And he played it with Skill, Soul And Passion.
And he could sing too.
He didn't have the greatest range, but he made up for it with a glorious combination of passionate energy and incredible timing.
And his sound was unlike anything Toronto had seen prior to his arrival in the year 1970. He first came to visit Toronto previous to that, then he came back to make music.
He soon decided to stay.
Within a short period of time, he started making his musical connections, eventually meeting Jim Heineman at The Zanzibar – where you could listen to Jazz during the day, and then catch the erotic dancers at night.
Later JT would play all over town, and regularly at The Silver Dollar before starting his long House Band run with Jim at The Rex Hotel.
Through John's teenage years, John T became more and more interested in music, gravitating from piano to organ, and eventually to his baby, The Hammond B3 / Leslie Combination. With full bass pedal setup, of course.
Armed with that monster, John T was a One Man Army! Playing complex basslines with his feet, voicing intricate chord progressions with his left han, soloing freely and fiercely with his right hand, and singing his heart out at the same time! He was a sight and sound to behold.
That's the amazing John T Davis that I remember.
The first time at The Rex Hotel, back in 1980 something... he and Jim Heineman, with a long list of talented characters playing along with them over the years, thrilled countless music lovers, over and over.
Those were the haydays for John T. Lots of work and lots of energy.
As the years flew by, John T recorded numerous CDs, made a few appearances in films, and on various albums as a session musician.
He also performed on cruise ships and in various parts of the world. John T was ReBorn May 26, 2022.
As John T would often say, “Thanks for listening and Caring... Without someone listening, there would be something missing”.
John T is survived by his son John T. Davis The Second (aka Jate), his former partner, Natale, his granddaughter Jayla, his step children Cathy Williams and Dwayne Batts of Toronto, his sister Jean Cooper of Portsmouth, Virginia, his aunt China, Alaska Connie and Family from Chicago, and several cousins from both sides of the Family.
John T also had a massive musical family and many close friends who will forever miss him. These include Jimmy Roberts, Gene Evans, Smitty, Bobby Boyer and Mouse with whom he came to Canada in 1970. John T often spoke about his memories of these old friends, and always with love and fondness.
Also, his dear freind and bandmate Jim Heineman, who together became known nationwide as 'Brothers in Music'.
Plus Wayne St. John who John T performed with on many occasions. John T also had the priviledge of meeting some of the world's great artistic and musical legends, such as; James Brown, Sam Moore, Billy Eckstien, Ruth Brown, Gary Us Bonds, the great Ella Fitzgerald, Ester Phillips, Laverne Baker, the late great Oscar Peterson, George Benson, Jimmy Smith, Jack Mcduff, Jimmy McGriff, McCoy Tyner, Don Pullen, Sonny Stitt, Gregory Hines, Isacc Hayes, Forest Whitaker, Kirsti Alli, Delroy Lindo, Angie Dickison, Jack Nicholson and more.
Also, in 2008, Jaymz Bee of Jazz Fm 91.1 produced 3 CD's featuring 19 of the top pianist in Canada. Entitled 'One Lucky Piano' (for the infamous Baby Grand Piano at the famous Montreal Bistro in Toronto), John T performed one of his compositions ‘Last Of The Blues”.
John T Davis leaves a legacy of beautiful, original music that you can still enjoy and purchase from his website: https://johntdavis.ca/