Danny Davis, Leader of the Nashville Brass, Dead at 83

Danny Davis, the bandleader who achieved major success in the late ’60s with the Nashville Brass, died Thursday evening (June 12) of cardiac arrest at a Nashville hospital. He was 83. Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass were named the CMA’s instrumental group of the year from 1969 to 1974. Their album, The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play More Nashville Sounds, won a Grammy in 1969 for best country instrumental performance. Born George Nolan in Massachusetts, he began his professional career as a trumpet player in bands led by Gene Krupa, Bob Crosby, Les Brown and others. He also recorded as a vocalist, scoring a hit with “The Object of My Affection.” In the early ’60s, he worked for MGM Records, producing six No. 1 singles for pop singer Connie Francis. After joining RCA Records’ New York division, he moved to the company’s Nashville office in 1968 and produced records while working as an assistant to Chet Atkins, who headed the label’s Nashville operations. Davis produced Waylon Jennings’ Grammy-winning recording of “MacArthur Park” and other sessions with artists such as Willie Nelson, Dottie West and Don Gibson. Inspired by the music of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass during the ’60s, Davis assembled the Nashville Brass and found national success with instrumental recordings of well-known country songs, including “Wabash Cannonball” and “Columbus Stockade Blues.” The band recorded 30 albums for RCA and several others on independent labels. With a commercial sound that appealed to mainstream America, they made frequent appearances on national television shows hosted by Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason and Merv Griffin. They also worked extensively in Las Vegas and performed with symphony orchestras throughout the nation. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Thursday night.