Remembering Larry Davis

A memorial service was held on Sunday afternoon, March 17, to remember and reflect on the many talents of Larry Glenn Davis, 77, of Asheboro, NC, who passed away on February 27. A large crowd gathered inside Sunset Theater to celebrate his life and the impact that he made on those around him.

Born in Randolph County, he attended Elon College where he played baseball. Davis went on to play professionally for the Washington Senators and the Chicago Cubs, but he is best remembered for his music. Following in the musical heritage of his banjo picking father, Glenn, he recorded numerous albums, spent years in Nashville as a studio musician, and played for presidents (Carter and Reagan) in the White House.

Davis was an accomplished guitarist, performing a variety of genres including bluegrass, jazz, classical, and pop. During the memorial service, friends performed some of his favorite tunes such as a jazz rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. 

Friend and vocalist, Cathy Watson, sang a couple of songs, including Smile. Randy Lee closed out the musical portion with a heartfelt saxophone solo of It Is Well With My Soul.

Grammy Award winning fiddler, Bobby Hicks, was scheduled to be part of the service, but was unable to attend due to a family emergency.

Wayne Martin, Executive Director for the NC Arts Council, traveled from Raleigh to share with attendees his own words of remembrance about Davis.

“As Larry’s career, and this wonderfully gifted assemblage of musicians gathered here today attests, North Carolina may be the richest state in the country for music. Over many generations we have produced extraordinary musicians who have helped shape America’s cultural legacy.

Music is one of the greatest forces we have for overcoming differences. I know that Larry felt this way; he understood the enduring power of music-that music can bind us to one another like almost no other art form. Through his music, Larry understood that he had the ability to connect people from all walks of life; and this was important motivation for him. What a wonderful goal to work for in one’s life!”

Other speakers included Reverend Lauren Hill of Davis’ church, New Union Methodist, and Reverend Ben Hurley. Hill read Psalm 23 and shared remarks. Hurley followed with Davis’ eulogy, sharing his love for coffee, baseball, and music. He also recalled Davis’ sharing his faith and his talents by performing for NASCAR drivers on Sunday mornings before races.

Martin summed up Davis’ legacy.

“If you wanted to make a lasting contribution, you had to have a deep love for music and for people. That loving music and understanding how much good it can do in the world in uplifting people is an precious gift as well. And in that regard, Larry Davis was also blessed with the gift. He loved the arts and he loved music and he loved to reach out and share and connect people. He brought us in this room today closer together through his passion for his music. And in doing so, he has made this community, and our state, a much better place to live. I am so thankful for his gift, and his life.”

R.I.P., Larry Davis.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.