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Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

Davis, Gary D. (30 April 1896–05 May 1972), guitarist and religious singer, was born in Laurens County, South Carolina, south of Spartanburg, the son of John Davis and Evelina (maiden name unknown), farmers. One of eight children, he grew up on a farm he later described as being so far out in the country “you couldn’t hear a train whistle blow unless it was on a cloudy day.” Partially blinded as a baby, Davis was placed in the care of his grandmother. He showed an aptitude for music as a boy, first playing harmonica and later, with his grandmother’s help, constructing a guitar. When he was between the ages of seven and ten his mother gave him a guitar, and over the next several years he became proficient, possibly learning from a local musician, Craig Fowler, and an uncle. By age ten he was singing in a Baptist church and playing for local dances. In his teens Davis began adding blues to a repertoire that already included country dance tunes and religious songs....