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Renowned Guitarist Jesse Ed Davis Found Dead Of Apparent Overdose

June 25, 1988 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jesse Ed Davis, a guitarist who performed with such superstars as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson, has died of an apparent drug overdose, police said. He was 43.

Davis rose to prominence in the 1960s playing lead guitar in Taj Mahal’s blues band, had a widely varied career as a session guitarist and took part in George Harrison’s landmark 1971 fund-raising ″Concert for Bangladesh.″

His body was found Wedneday in the laundry room of an apartment building in the beach community of Venice, with a fresh needle mark on one arm and burned matches and tin foil scattered nearby, police said.


″It appears to be a drug overdose. There was no trauma on his body,″ Detective David Straky said. ″But the case is still open. It could turn out down the road to be a homicide.″

Davis, a Kiowa Indian from Oklahoma, played sessions for artists representing a variety of styles, performing on everything from The Monkees’ ″Last Train to Clarksville″ to Jackson Browne’s ″Doctor My Eyes,″ said his publicist, Lani Lou Shumate.

He recorded three albums of his own in the early 1970s, in which his backup musicians included rock stars Clapton and Leon Russell.

In 1985, he formed the Grafitti Man Band with Indian poet and civil rights activist John Trudell. Davis put music to Trudell’s poetic images for ″aka Grafitti Man,″ which Dylan called the best album of 1986.

The musician fought alcohol and drug addiction most of his life.

″I’ve got a real reputation as a lunatic, a madman,″ he once said. ″There was always that suspicion lurking in people’s minds: ’Will he show up? Will he show up drunk, or will he not bother to come at all?‴

Davis is survived by his wife, Kelly Brady Davis. Ms. Shumate said friends hope to raise money to have his body sent to Oklahoma for an Indian burial ceremony.