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Music world mourns loss of Chicago producer

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A music producer who helped make the sounds of Chicago in the 60's and 70's died on Thursday.

Carl Davis collaborated with Jackie Wilson on Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and with Gene Chandler on The Duke of Earl.

After serving in the Air Force, Davis started picking hits during the 50s. This gave Davis access to artists, labels and distributors, all the power players in the Chicago music industry.

But Davis became a big hit himself when he produced Gene Candlers' The Duke of Earl.

Davis died at his home in South Carolina after battling an autoimmune disorder.

He was 77 years old.

All day long tributes have been coming in for the man who was called the hit maker and credited with reviving the singing career of Jackie Wilson and other musical legends.

Davis' brother, George, reminisces about the pride he felt when the song went platinum.

"It was a feeling of exhilaration," he said. "He wasn't coming down, he said he could pick another hit."

Carl Davis went on to pick hundreds more and became the first African American executive for CBS Records. His brother recalls chart topper by the Chi-Lites almost didn't get recorded.

"He said we have to cross the color barrier and you know what happened to the song," George Davis said.

Carl Davis worked with legendary artists for what was called the Chicago sound.

Many of the songs recorded at Chi Sound Records, a studio Davis started with $125.

His son, Carl Davis, remembers their home always filled with music.

"We would come home from school and the Chi-Lites would be there practicing their moves and recording and Gene Chandler would be bouncing me on his knee," Davis said.

Davis is hoping his children will now appreciate the legacy their grandfather had left behind.

"To us, he was just dad, to everyone else he was known as the man behind the music," he said. "He was just phenomenal dad."

Last summer Davis joined for the first time in 30 years at the former site of Chi Town Records, a section of town formerly known as Record Row is being considered for designation as a historical landmark.

A section of Chicago formerly known as Record Row where Chi Sound Records was located is being considered for designation as a historical landmark.

The Carl Davis Foundation was established to pay for college tuition and train young people who are interested in pursuing a career in the music and entertainment industry.

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