Randy Davis passes

Randy Davis, the bass player with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys from July 1974 through to June 1979, passed away after a short battle with cancer on Friday, September 27, 2019. He was 65 years of age.

Stephen Randall “Randy” Davis was born on June 20, 1954, in Asheville, North Carolina. He was a graduate of the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (Asheville) where he earned a degree in accounting. 

Inspired by his father, Davis was brought up in a music culture, and at an early age he started playing the upright bass as part of his father’s band, John Davis and the Asheville Bluegrass. 

As a 20-year-old Davis was recruited by Kenny Baker to join the Blue Grass Boys.

As well as playing bass he generally sang baritone and bass harmonies for Monroe, although Davis sang lead on the recording of My Louisiana Love. He is featured on all the studio recording sessions for the Weary Traveler, Body and Soul, and Bluegrass Memories albums.

My Louisiana Love

Other Monroe recordings on which Davis is featured are the live album Bean Blossom ’79; a radio broadcast session for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s series Country Roads, released in 1982 on an LP Live Radio (Country Road CR 02); and the NBC broadcast Fifty Years of Country Music, broadcast in January 1978 and later published on ABC-CLIO and Original Cinema. 

As well as working on personal appearances throughout the USA, he toured with the Blue Grass Boys in Japan (December 1974), and in Europe (April/May 1975). 

Arguably, one of the most solid bass players that Monroe had, the Father of Bluegrass Music introduced Davis as “a man with perfect timing,” while Kenny Baker has enthused about Davis’s vocal talents, saying that “he could sing a true note.”

While with Monroe, Davis recorded for his boss on the Bill and James Monroe album, Together Again; backing Birch Monroe as he plays some old-time fiddle favorites; with Kenny Baker – on four of the fiddler’s County LPs; on two Wayne Lewis records; and on Butch Robins’ The Fifth Child. 

In this Grand Ole Opry performance Randy Davis contributes the baritone part during the chorus of Sweet Blue-eyed Darlin’  

In 1980 he became a very important member of the then-recently formed Marc Pruett Band that began a nine-year stint as the house band at Bill Stanley’s BBQ and Bluegrass Restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. He sang lead and tenor vocals and played bass in the band. They released four LPs. 

Davis leaves a rich legacy of excellent recordings.

Later, he spent several years performing with Norfolk Southern Lawmen Band for the Southern Railway. 

Away from bluegrass music, Davis worked for the Coca Cola Company and for over 15 years for the North Carolina Department of Transport in Asheville. 

He was an avid sportsman and outdoorsman who loved to hike. One of his favorite hobbies from a young age was to go deer hunting with his family. In recent years he was known by his neighbors to feed deer every evening after work. 

Many of those neighbors relied on Davis to help maintain properties when they were unable to do the work themselves, and he was always happy to assist anyone who needed extra help.

Butch Robins described Davis as, “the quintessential Blue Grass Boy; an excellent musician; on stage and off, a gentleman and friend to all.”

R.I.P., Randy Davis 

A celebration of life service will be held on a date to be arranged.

A Discography 

Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys

  • Weary Traveler (MCA 2173, released January 1976)
  • Sings Bluegrass Body and Soul (MCA 2251, January 1977)
  • Bluegrass Memories (MCA 2315, October 1977)
  • Bean Blossom ’79 (Silver Eagle Records 

Bill & James Monroe

  • Together Again (MCA-2367, June 1978) 

Brother Birch Monroe

  • Plays Old Time Fiddle Favorites (Atteiram AP I-L 1516, 1975)

Kenny Baker

  • Grassy Fiddle Blues (County 750, 1975)
  • Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe (County 761, 1976)
  • Frost on the Pumpkin (County 770, 1977)
  • Farmyard Swing (County 775, 1979) 

Wayne Lewis

  • Bluegrass Traditions (Old Homestead OHS 90095, 1978)
  • Lonesome & Blue (Old Homestead OHS 90113, 1980)

Butch Robins

  • The Fifth Child (Rounder 0130, 1980)

Marc Pruett Band

  • Streamline Cannonball (Skyline SR 006, 1981) 
  • The Marc Pruett Band (Davis & Pruett IRC 1083, 
  • Moonlight Madness (Marandee MR 001, 1981)
  • Center Stage Live (Marandee MR 002, 1982)

Share this:

About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.