JAMAICA DAZE

April 6, 2010 – 3:55 am

World country singer Skeeter Davis performs in Bob Marley’s hometown, a year after his passing.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

SKEETER DAVIS
Jamaica World Music Festival 1982 [no label, 1CD]

Live at Bob Marley Memorial Performing Center, Montego Bay, Jamaica, November 26, 1982. The three day festival was from Nov 25-27. Ex SBD stereo.

“In 1982, the Bob Marley Performing Centre in Montego Bay was opened with a World Music Festival, which featured an eclectic mix of performers including Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Joe Jackson, The Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead.

“But for Jamaicans the star of the show was the early ’60s country and western hit maker, Skeeter Davis. All but ignoring the other performers, bus loads of Jamaicans from all over the island, especially the country parts, converged to see in person this voice they had grown up with.

“Observers remember Skeeter weeping tears of joy as throngs of ecstatic fans sang along with her word for word - they knew every one of her songs by heart.”

- Reggae routes: the story of Jamaican music┬áBy Kevin O’Brien Chang, Wayne Chen

Skeeter was 50 years old when she played this concert in front of tens of thousands of Bob Marley’s countrymen. The promoter of the Jamaica World Music Festival was from Denver, Colorado. When Barry Fey heard Skeeter was popular in Jamaica, he signed her up despite Davis’ absence from the top of the charts for more than a decade. When you read how this festival was promoted as “music by the Ministers of Ganja and Rock n Roll” you wonder how Ms Davis would have fitted in?

As this concert recording bears witness, Davis is overwhelmed by the crowd. She starts off nervously with a couple of familiar hits and the tension and trembling must have made her sometimes sing off-key. By the time she reaches Blue Kentucky Girl, Davis is already a blur of excitment, talking nonstop, trying her best to connect with an unfamiliar crowd. Although well travelled, Davis spent the ’70s touring Europe, South-east Asia and Japan and South Africa and even Kenya - she’d never been to Jamaica before. This mass of fans singing along to her early hits must have surprised even this seasoned old Nashville star.

“I’ve been around a long time,” said Davis in one of many on stage banters at this show. “I’m still doing all right for a 50-year-old and I don’t smoke and I don’t drink and I don’t CHEW and I’m STILL GOING YOU KNOW?” The crowd must have loved that.

A significant moment arrives at the end of the band introductions just as the first notes of her international pop hit begins, The End Of The World. The band plays the intro but Davis doesn’t join in. She must have been struck dumb to hear the audience singing that first verse. What made The End Of The World so popular? When Davis recorded it back in 1963, producer Chet Akins left it in the vault unreleased. She had to coax him to put it out.

The End Of The World was written by 14-year-old Sylvia Dee about her father’s death. That was not known to Davis when she first heard the demo sung by a male voice. In 1986, Davis told Jeff Tamarkin in a Goldmine interview, “I just loved [The End Of The World] because it expressed all my feelings going through all that tragedy, and all those years of loneliness and feeling so bad.” She somehow knew what the song was about. “It was strange, because I just said that’s how you feel when somebody dies. Everybody else thought of it just as a love song.”

Just as the song struck a chord in Davis, her interpretation of The End Of The World spread its message even further. Even in Jamaica, country fans who first heard the song in 1963 stayed loyal. This is an excellent soundboard recording that was shared by grner1 on Dime. All thanks to his generosity. Also big thanks to rem2rigs for the artwork.

- Professor Red

Soundboard recording from low gen. cassette - very decent sound quality - grner1.

Skeeter Davis travelled a few times to $ingapore as well in the ’80s. She was 72 when she passed away in 2004.

Read the Jeff Tamarkin interview with Skeeter Davis here.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Silver Threads And Golden Needles [2:46] (3.8MB)
Track 02. Am I That Easy To Forget? [2:57] (4.0MB)
Track 03. My Last Date [2:27] (3.3MB)
Track 04. talk [0:45] [”my first trip to Jamaica”] (1.0MB)
Track 05. Blue Kentucky Girl [3:02] (4.1MB)
Track 06. talk [0:29] [”an old country song”] (684k)
Track 07. The Rockabye Boogie [3:41] (5.0MB)
Track 08. It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels [3:30] (4.8MB)
Track 09. I’ll Fly Away [4:04] (5.5MB)
Track 10. One Tin Soldier [3:47] (5.2MB)
Track 11. talk [0:38] [”I just recorded an album with NRBQ”] (894k)
Track 12. Everybody Wants A Cowboy [2:38] (3.6MB)
Track 13. I Gotta Know [2:07] (2.9MB)
Track 14. talk [0:29] [”I don’t know if you ever heard of the Grand Ole Opry?”] (684k)
Track 15. Rocky Top [2:56] (4.0MB)
Track 16. band introductions [1:23] (1.9MB)
Track 17. The End Of The World [4:03] (5.5MB)
Track 18. encore break [0:38] (894k)
Track 19. The Rose [3:23 ] (4.6MB)
Track 20. outro [0:54] (1.2MB)

TT: 46:37m

Lineup:
Skeeter Davis with:
Larry Pinkerton - guitar
John Reese - keyboards
James Griffith - bass
Tony Hendrix - drums
Jerry Borden - percussion
(Note from grner1: “The band members’ names are as accurate as I could hear - not totally audible on the recording.”)

The next album Skeeter Davis released was with NRBQ - She Sings, They Play on the Rounder label [1986]. It contains the studio rendition of Everybody Wants A Cowboy. Said Davis of She Sings, They Play, “We had more fun making this album. What other group would think to do Someday My Prince Will Come in 4/4 time?” Click on the link to order the album.

Find out more about Jamaican music in Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music by Kevin O’Brien Chang and Wayne Chen. Both authors are Jamaican. Click on the link to order the book.

  1. 6 Responses to “JAMAICA DAZE”

  2. Thanks for this interesting historical musical treat and for the well written description of the show. I’ve just finished listening. Pleasent enough. I was never a big fan but definitely was intrigued when NRBQ recorded with her (or was it the other way around?). She might have lacked vocal range but she could often deliver a song. Thanks, too, for the link to the Goldmine/Jeff Tamarkin interview. I remember it from the first time around. Very informative.

    By Dennis on Apr 6, 2010

  3. I believe that Joey Spampimato, NRBQ’s bass player was married to Skeeter Davis. That may explain why they did the album together.

    By mike on Apr 6, 2010

  4. I’m pretty sure the guitarist is Larry Pinkerton.

    By Steven Husting on Apr 14, 2010

  5. That is me (Larry Pinkerton) playing a 1965 “L Series” pre-CBS Strat. We were outside near the bay and it was very humid - we musicians were all frantically tuning by ear in between songs.

    I had forgotten how intimidated and nervous Skeeter would get when we worked with rock and pop acts. She’d probably have been embarrassed by this performance. But I had no idea this recording, a snapshot in time, existed and thanks for posting it warts and all.

    By Larry Pinkerton on Apr 15, 2010

  6. Skeeter told us about the gig in the dressing room back stage at the Opry. She mentioned she was a big star in Jamaica and the band kind of rolled their eyes in disbelief and thought, , Miss “too white” Skeeter Davis is a big star in reggae Jamaica? Yeah, right. But it turns out she was very popular and many of her records and tapes could be found in downtown record shops. Go figure.

    Many of Skeeter’s hits, including End Of The World, were recorded and produced by guitar great and studio savvy Chet Atkins. (Skeeter’s started her career as a duo harmony singer and was not really a lead singer. She was thrust into a lead singer role when her duet partner was killed in a car crash.) Chet knew early on how to get the best out of Skeeter’s often weak lead vocals — i.e. stacking them and adding her own harmony parts, not to mention his very smart arrangements.

    By Larry Pinkerton on Apr 15, 2010

  7. respectfully request to check end of the world. tried and tried to dL, to know avail. Thx so much !!

    By tee on Nov 3, 2015

Post a Comment