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He played with Dylan, Clapton and Lennon: the unsung genius of guitarist Jesse Ed Davis

He was the go-to session guitarist for some of the biggest music stars of all time yet his incredible highs and tragic lows have often been overlooked Three-quarters of the way through John Lennon’s stirring take on Stand By Me, a guitar sneaks into the mix with a solo so supple and sweet, it feels like a kiss. In Bob Dylan’s Watching the River Flow, it’s a wily slide guitar that seizes center stage with a sound both witty and free, while halfway through Jackson Browne’s Doctor My Eyes, a guitar solo winds up changing the entire trajectory of the song, making it soar from a chugging ballad to a flat-out rocker. In each case, the guitarist responsible for adding those shapes and colors to the music is Jesse Ed Davis. Though little remembered today, Davis was the go-to session guitarist for music’s greatest stars of the late 60s through the 70s. His tasteful licks and surgical leads turned up on solo albums by three out of the four Beatles (all but Paul), and alighted on recordings by Rod Stewart (including the No 1 hit Tonight’s the Night), Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Bryan Ferry, Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson, Gram Parsons and scores more. Continue reading...

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