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OBITUARIES / Passings / Danny Davis

Founder of the Nashville Brass

June 14, 2008

Danny Davis, 83, a bandleader and record producer who founded the Nashville Brass, died Thursday at a Nashville hospital after suffering a heart attack, according to his publicist, Betty Hofer.

A resident of Nashville, Davis began his music career as a trumpeter, playing in the brass sections of bands led by Les Brown, Gene Krupa and others in the 1940s.

Davis became a record producer for MGM in New York City, where he produced a number of hit singles with singer Connie Francis. In 1968, he moved to Nashville to be a producer for RCA records, with guitarist Chet Atkins as his boss. He worked with Floyd Cramer, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dottie West and other top musicians.

Davis formed the Nashville Brass in 1968. The next year, the band won a Grammy Award for its version of the popular song "Kawliga." It also won the Country Music Assn. award for best instrumental group six times, starting in 1969.

The group appeared on the television variety shows of Mike Douglas, Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan and others, as well as at inauguration celebrations for Presidents Nixon and Reagan. The band continued performing for nearly 30 years and recorded more than 30 albums.

Davis was born George Nowlan on May 29, 1925, in Dorchester, Mass., and changed his name early in his career.

He attended the New England Conservatory of Music on a scholarship.

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