Songwriter Ron Davies, the older brother of recording artist Gail Davies, died at his home in Nashville Thursday (Oct. 30) of a heart attack. He was 57. While less celebrated in music circles than his sister, Davies was the family’s artistic trailblazer. At 17, he launched his career by writing an entire album for the Wailers, the Seattle-based rock band best known for its 1959 hit, “Tall Cool One.”
Subsequently, Davies’ songs were recorded by David Bowie, Three Dog Night, Joe Cocker, Dave Edmunds, Anne Murray, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Jerry Jeff Walker, among many others. His most famous compositions are “It Ain’t Easy” recorded by Three Dog Night and David Bowie; “Long, Hard Climb” for Helen Reddy and Maria Muldaur; “The Man I Used to Be” for Jerry Jeff Walker; and “Waitin’ on a Dark-Eyed Girl” for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Ronny Wayne Davies was born Jan. 15, 1946, in Shreveport, La. His father, local country singer Tex Dickerson, often took his eldest son to see and hear such legends as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Red Foley and Johnny & Jack. (The songwriter took the name Davies after he was adopted by his stepfather, Darby Alan Davies.)
Davies got his first guitar when he was 11 and immediately began writing songs. After his success with the Wailers, he signed to A&M Records. His first album for the label was Silent Song Through the Land. He followed it with U. F. O., which was produced by Grammy-winner Tommy Vicarri.
In the 1980s, Davies moved to Nashville, where he became a writer for Cedarwood Publishing and later for Warner/Chappell. In 1999, he played the lead role in George Jones’ music video, “Cold Hard Truth.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced later.