aka - Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass
George Nowlan, better known as Danny Davis -- leader of the Nashville
Brass -- died of cardiac arrest at 5:40pm June 12th at St. Thomas Hospital
in Nashville. The innovative instrumentalist and industry executive had just
celebrated his 83rd birthday on May 29th.
Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and raised in nearby Randolph, Davis
became a proficient horn player early in life and was named a trumpet
soloist with the Massachusetts All State Symphony Orchestra when he was only
He attended the New England Conservatory of Music on a scholarship and it
wasn't long before the 'young man with a horn' found himself a job playing
with Bobby Byrne's Orchestra on CBS network radio. Later, he also served in
the brass section of such well-known bands as Gene Krupa, Bob Crosby, Les
Brown, Hal McIntire, Art Mooney and Freddy Martin.
Throughout his early career, he is credited with winning the 'Arthur Godfrey
Talent Scout Show' three times, and holds the record for winning 'Chance Of
A Lifetime' for a total of six times.
He also sang with such bands as Vincent Lopez, Blue Barron and Sammy Kaye.
His work as a vocalist is probably best remembered for the huge hit he had
on MGM titled 'The Object Of My Affection'.
For many years, Davis worked as a record producer at MGM in New York and it
was during that time when he produced six #1 singles on Connie Francis, all
of which came out of sessions recorded in Nashville. It was also during his
tenure at MGM that he discovered an English group known as Herman's Hermits.
From MGM, Davis moved over to RCA in New York, where he was at the helm of
albums for such artists as Lana Cantrell and Nina Simone. In 1968 he
accepted a position with RCA in Nashville, as a producer and assistant to
Chet Atkins. Among acts he was assigned to were Hank Locklin, Floyd
Crammer, Willie Nelson, Dottie West, Don Gibson, Waylon Jennings, and George
During his first year in Music City, Davis produced two #1 records: 'Rings
Of Gold' by Don Gibson & Dottie West, and the Grammy-winning 'MacArthur
Park' by Waylon Jennings.
However, he also produced something else that year, which would catapult him
into phenomenal stardom when he founded Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass.
The group's very first single on RCA, 'I Saw The Light', instantly became a
runaway hit. In 1969 the Nashville Brass won a Grammy for their recording
of 'Kawliga' and the Country Music Association awarded them Best
Instrumental Group of the Year---an honor the CMA would bestow upon them for
six consecutive years.
It was also Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass who helped pave the way for
the 'Nashville Sound' in Vegas with their extensive hold-over engagements at
They were front-runners in combining country music with symphony orchestras
in countless cities. They were on numerous TV shows with such greats as Red
Skelton, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Johnny Cash, Merv Griffin, Mike
Douglas, Perry Como and Dinah Shore. They entertained in Europe. They were
constant favorites on the fair circuit, as well as in posh dinner clubs, for
more than two decades. They performed daily for over a year at the Country
Music World theater in Branson, MO. They shared the stage in Nashville with
Boots Randolph for several seasons at his club in Printer's Alley, as well
as on Music Valley Drive at the Stardust Theater. They even played for the
inauguration of two Presidents, Nixon and Reagan.
Over the years, Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass had recorded a total of 30
albums on RCA, in addition to others on independent labels. Davis himself
was often seen playing trumpet on Hee-Haw as part of the 'Million Dollar
Band'. And the musical kaleidoscope of his illustrious career had just
recently expanded even further when the unmistakable sounds of Davis playing
horn were featured on Royal Wade Kimes' self-penned song titled 'Danny
Play' -- currently being aired on XM satellite radio.
George Nowlan, (Danny Davis) is survived by his wife Barbara; two daughters,
Kim Nowlan and Tara Nowlan; two sons, Gavin Nowlan and Kerry Nowlan; three
grandsons, Kerry 'Jamie' Nowlan, Jr., Elliott Nowlan and Nicholas Nowlan;
one great granddaughter, MiKayla Nowlan; and one brother, John Nowlan.