WILD BILL & MILT
William E. Davison
Known throughout the jazz world as Wild Bill, he was considered one of the world’s foremost jazz artists of the Chicago School of Jazz. His self-taught musical talents, as well as his recordings, are hallmarks of jazz enthusiasts the world over.
Davison’s Early Years
William Davison was born on January 5, 1906, in Defiance, Ohio. His parents were Edward Davison, an itinerant worker, and Anna Krebs Davison, a homemaker, and pianist. However, by age seven, Bill went to live with Davison’s maternal grandparents, John and Matilda Krebs, who cared for him. His grandparents were caretakers of the Defiance Public Library and lived in its basement.
Davison attended Defiance City Schools until his tenth-grade year when he dropped out to find a job. Davison first learned to play the mandolin, guitar, and banjo. Not one to read music, he played by ear. He joined the Boy Scouts so he could learn to play the bugle and at twelve began the cornet. At seventeen, Davison played with the Ohio Lucky Sevens. He honed his skills by listening to the noted musicians of the day and imitating their styles.
Davison’s Middle Years
In 1928, Davison was the featured soloist with Chicago’s Benny Meroff Orchestra. It was here
that the four-beat swing jazz the white jazz musicians created became known as “Chicago-style” jazz.
Davison formed his own twelve piece band in 1931. Frank Teschemacker, noted clarinetist and saxophonist, was his featured musician. Frank was killed in an auto accident in a car driven by Davison. With the loss of Frank and difficulties with the union, Davison’s band folded.
From 1943 to 1945 Davison served in the United States Army Band as a musician stationed in North Carolina at the Grove Park convalescent resort for injured soldiers.
Later Davison became the bandleader and star attraction at Eddie Condon’s New York City Jazz Club from 1945 to 1957.
Davison’s Later Years
In 1954, Davison played in the first Newport Jazz Festival. That same year, Davison married actress Anne Stewart (Anne Hendlin McLaughlin) who was his anchor for the remainder of his life. Three years later, Europe welcomed Davison during his two tours.
The city of Defiance, Ohio, in 1971 honored Davison with a key to the city during a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the construction of Fort Defiance.
Davison continued to play professionally until his death at age 83 from an abdominal aneurysm. His ashes were buried at Riverside Cemetery in Defiance, Ohio.
“Bill, if anything ever happens to me, I know you can keep on doing what I’m doing.” -Louis Armstrong
Biography in Brief
William “Wild Bill” Davison
Birth: January 5, 1906, Defiance, OH
Death: November 14, 1989, Santa Barbara, CA
Buried: Riverside Cemetery, Defiance, OH
Father: Ed Davison
Mother: Anna Krebs Davison
Maternal Grandparents: Matilda and John Krebs
Wives: Five – Fifth wife Anne Stewart
Education: Defiance City Schools until tenth grade; self-taught musician
Military Service: U.S. Army 1943-45. Davision led a band at the Grove Park Inn North Carolina, a convalescent resort for injured soldiers.
Instruments: Cornet, mandolin, bugle, guitar, banjo, slide trumpet, violin, valve trumpet.
Style: Chicago Jazz – four beat swing jazz
Biography: The Wildest One by Hal Willlard
Performed In: Ohio Lucky Seven, Detroit’s Seattle Harmony Kings, Chicago’s Benny Meroff Orchestra, Jones Band, Jimmy Jackson Band, Rollin Potters Peerless Players, Cincinnati’s Chubb Steinberg Orchestra, New York’s Eddie Condon Band
Performed With: Louis Armstrong, Bobby Hacket, Frank Teschemacher, Pee Wee Russell, Bud Freeman and others.
Davison Bands: Swing Band, Wild Bill Davison and his Commodores, Wild Bill Davison and his All Star Stompers, Wild Bill Davison American Jazz Band, Giants of Jazz.
Recording Labels: Commodore, Jazzology
Recordings: recorded 800 songs, In New Orleans, Swing Wild, Davison and Hodes Coalition – 1999 releases
Travels: United States, Europe, Asia, and Japan
Milton Brent Buckner
"The St. Louis Fireball"
Milt Buckner spent a lifetime making people happy with his music As a noted arranger, pianist and organist in the jazz word, his influence spanned the United States and Europe. Using his unique musical talents, he performed concerts for children’s charities on both continents. His legacy lives on in the many recordings of his prolific works.
Buckner’s Early Years
Milton Brent Buckner was born July 10, 1915, in St. Louis, Missouri Buckner and his younger brother Ted were orphaned at a young age and were reared by their uncle, John Tobias, in Detroit, Michigan. Since Tobias was a trombonist in the Earl Walton Orchestra, the Buckner boys were embraced by the musicians of the orchestra who instilled a love of music. Ted Buckner became an accomplished saxophonist. Tobias gave Milt, at age ten, piano lessons for three years. Buckner began to write an arrangement for the orchestra at age fifteen.
While Buckner attended the Detroit Institute of Arts, he performed with the Harlem Aristocrats and with Mose Burke and the Dixie Wangdoodles.
Buckner’s Middle Years
In 1932, Buckner joined Don Cox’s band and began to develop the “locked hands” or “parallel chord” technique.
Lionel Hampton hired Buckner as a pianist and staff arranger in November of 1941. Buckner worked with Hampton during the years 1941 to 1948 and 1950 to 1952. During the two-year break, Buckner formed his own group and recorded his music.
While with Hampton in the 1950s, Buckner began his career as jazz organist. His use of the Hammond organ began a resurgence in the popularity of the instrument in the jazz world.
Throughout his career, Buckner performed with an impressive list of notable jazz musicians. His initial recordings were with the Black and Blue label. Later labels included Argo, Bethlehem, Regent, and Scooter for starters.
Buckner’s Later Years
Buckner spent the last eleven years of his life recording and performing in Europe. He returned occasionally to North America to play concerts and clubs. European audiences were appreciative of his musical talents and he was able to work with talented musicians.
In July of 1977, Buckner returned to the United States to perform with Illinois Jacquet at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. After setting up his Hammond organ for the engagement, Buckner collapsed and died.
Buckner’s funeral service was in Defiance, Ohio, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on August 2, 1977. The strains of When the Saints come Marching In filled the air as a New Orleans style procession escorted Buckner’s hearse to Riverside Cemetery.
Buckner’s Defiance Connection
In the 1930s, Buckner was performing with his own band in Defiance, Ohio. Accommodations for an African-American were not available. Buckner stayed in the home of Henry ad Bertha Goins, one of two African-American families living in Defiance. While there he met Goins’ daughter Gladys, his future wife.
The Buckners had two daughters, Carole and Betty. Since they traveled during the school year, the Buckners decided to make their home base 800 Harrison Street in Defiance. Growing up in Defiance, their daughters developed a strong relationship with their grandparents. The girls were enrolled in Slocum School. Betty died of leukemia at the age of nine. Carole graduated from Defiance High School in 1955. Buckner bought a home on Shawnee Drive after Gladys died in 1972. Presently, Carole lives in San Marcos, California.
“It must have a beat and it’s got to have soul.”
Biography in Brief
Milton Brent Buckner
Birth: July 10, 1915, St. Louis, Missouri
Death: July 17, 1977, Chicago, Illinois
Buried: Riverside Cemetery, Defiance, OH
Father: George Albert Buckner
Mother: Esther (Lott) Buckner
Sibling: Ted Buckner
Wife: Gladys (Goins) Buckner
Children: Carole and Betty
Music Education: Detroit Institute of Arts
Instruments: Organ, piano, vibraphone, and valve trombone
Style: Developed the “locked hands” or “parallel chords” technique later perfected by George Shearing and Oscar Peterson. (Locked Hands Style: Both hands play close together, playing dense chords in unison along the melody line.)
Performed With: Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Count Basie, Wynonie Harris, Buddie Rich, Willie Dixon, Herb Jefferies, Florence Wright, Mabel Scott, Illinois Jacquet
All information provided by:
Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum
514 East Third Street
Defiance, OH 43512