Barry Davis, drummer from The Legend/Dragonfly
Hi Barry, thanks for taking the time to share the story of your musical adventures, especially your time with The Legend, the band that cut one of my all time favorite LPs under the name Dragonfly.
When and where were you born? What roll did music play in the Davis household as a youth?
I was born in El Paso, Texas in 1947. Music played a big part in my growing up. My father played Ukulele, Hawaiian Steel, standard (as he called it) a Hollow body Rickenbacker and had his own radio show in Lubbock in the 30’s. He also recorded a record which can only be played by an RCA wooden needle, so I have never heard it!!!
How old were you when you began playing drums? Was this your first instrument? How did you obtain your first drum kit?
I started learning piano at 4, switched to accordion at 8, trumpet at 12 and drums at 14. I traded in my accordion and trumpet for my first drum set, a blue sparkle set of Lyra drums.
What was the music scene like where you grew up? How big an influence was it on you?
Surfin and the blues. Big influence but was more interested in the girls.
How old were you when you joined your first band? What was the name of the band? Who were the other members? What kind of music did you play?
I was 14. I used to play around on my Dad’s tool box’s in the shed and some friends came over and heard me and said I should play with this band who needed a drummer. They were always talking about this guy named “Bert Peters” who twirled the sticks and the women went wild at the local Key Club so I learned to twirl real good. First gig was with one of the most popular bands in the city, the Pawns, at an after football game dance at Ysleta High School. Went from tool boxes to one rehearsal to the stage.
Do you recall the first tune you played?
Walk Don’t Run.
How was the band accepted by the audience?
Standing ovation baby! There were no chairs!
How did you meet Jack Duncan?
I don’t remember but we played in the Pawns together.
When did you form The Pawns?
The Pawns were: David Hayes on guitar and lead vocal, Duncan on bass, Don Doize on lead and me on drums.
Was the band really affiliated with Bobby Fuller?
They recorded their record at Bobby’s studio before I joined the group.
How did you become acquainted with Gerry Jimerfield and Ernie McElwaine?
Jerry and Ernie were in the Lords of London in Durango Colorado and used to come down to Farmington N.M. to hear us play. Jack Duncan and I left El Paso to join the Lords that had some other members, including another drummer that played for a couple of gigs and we decided we needed another guitar player and called Russ.
What sorts of venues did the band play?
We lived in Jerry’s parents motel across the street from a restaurant / club and practiced and played there, traveled to Ft Collins and played the Green Onion.
Did you share the stage with any bands our readers would be familiar with?
I know there were quite a few but the only one I remember was at the Green Onion. Question Mark and the Mysterians played there. We played covers at first like most bands. Donovan, the Who, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc.
Did the sorts of venues you played change once Randy joined the band?
No, we just needed money!
Describe if you would the evolution of the band’s sound?
We slowly became more blues oriented from our El Paso roots and going to Juarez and the Lobby Club every weekend to hear Long John Hunter play until 6 in the morning! That was our early musical heritage. Everyone in El Paso at that time was influenced by Long John!
The Lords Of London changed their name to The Jimerfield Legend. Why the name change?
To have our own identity and feature Jerry as lead singer.
Who were the members of the band at this point?
Jerry, Ernie, Jack, Randy and myself.
The band eventually became known simply as The Legend and signed a recording contract. What label did the band sign with and how did the signing come about?
OK! We packed up and headed to LA. Jimerfield had connections. First with a dude named Roger Dollarhide who was a songwriter for Pat Boone! We even went to his office in Pat Boone’s office and were thinking WTF! We eventually auditioned for Tony Sepe And Marty Brooks who formed Megaphone Records and we recorded the first Legend album. It was recorded at American Recording Studio in North Hollywood. Richard Poloder and Bill Cooper produced and engineered.
Did The Legend’s album contain original tunes, covers, or a combination? What was the band’s songwriting process? How were the songs arranged? How pleased was the band with the finished LP?
To the best of my memory, the album was first called The Jimerfield Legend and changed to the Legend just to make it simple. It was a combination of the cover tunes that we liked the best and played live, and tunes that were written for the album that Sepe and Marty picked from a writer. Not bad tunes just not “us”. We did everything together as far as arranging together on our tunes. But Sepe and Brooks were giving us just enough money to live… and a gig here and there. We could make money in Colorado so we split and they got session players – the top guys and gals in the business to finish the album. We liked what we did and what the session players did was good but not us, so WTF. If I remember correctly, and what I’ve come to know it was the “wrecking crew” who worked with Gene Page. Hal Blaine on drums, Carol Kaye on bass. One session had James Burton who played the psychedelic guitar on one or two of the cuts. Now don’t quote me, you’ll need more than just me to verify this but that is my memory. One thing I do remember is, we were known for me doing a drum solo at the end of our show so Sepe said “let’s put one on the album. Not with me but with Earl Palmer.” I was in the studio for that session! Everyone thought WTF, including Earl, and it was scrapped!!!
Were any singles released in connection with the LP?
Portrait of Youth/Enjoy Yourself, Baby Blue/The Kids Are All Right. The tunes we actually did live.
Did the sort of venues change after the album was released?
We played Seal Beach a lot. Great gig!
The Legend recorded a single with vocalist Mike Kelly. How did this come about? What affect did this have on the band?
Mike was a singer from El Paso, great singer, soulful. I don’t remember much else. I think I have the 45 somewhere but…
It appears the band’s recordings did not fare well.
What affect did this have on band morale?
What did the band do in the wake of the recordings failure to hit?
The Legend disbanded but then regrouped to record another album. What were the circumstances that led up to this and what band members returned to the fold?
The El Paso guys broke off and started writing songs, the Colorado guys broke off and ended up dead, eventually.
The relationship between the band and its label apparently soured. Describe if you would the evolution of the relationship between Megaphone Records and The Legend.
We met up with a producer named Richard Russell (Igissi) who took the three of us under his wing and produced the Dragonfly album.
When and where was the Dragonfly album recorded? Who were the members of the band at this point and why was the album credited to Dragonfly? Did Dragonfly play any gigs whatsoever?
It was recorded at several studios, by mostly Jack Randy and Myself along with Jerry adding some vocals including the re-arranged Enjoy Yourself. Richard arranged it. Ernie did very little if anything. It was recorded to get out of our contract with Sepe/Brooks.
Jack Duncan and Barry Davis
Dragonfly is considered by many, myself included, to be one of the best heavy psychedelic rock albums ever recorded. Where was the album recorded? What material was included on the album? Who wrote the tunes and how did the band handle the arrangements?
The writers were Duncan, Randy, Jerry and I, along with Richard doing a lot of the arranging.
Describe if you would, your recollections of the sessions for the Dragonfly LP.
Randy reminded me of a session we did at Decca Records where Paul Simon gave us a listen and said: “No.” It says we recorded at I.D. Sound, Hollywood, and Amigo Recording Studios in North Hollywood.
What was the mood of the band at this point?
We are in LA Studios recording, smoking weed. We are loving it!!!!!!
What are your favorite tunes from the album and why?
Blue Monday, Enjoy Yourself, Portrait of Youth, Crazy Woman and I Feel It.
”Enjoy Yourself” previously released as a single by The Legend was re-recorded for the Dragonfly album. What was the inspiration for the song? You and guitarist Randy Russ are credited as co-writers. What were your roles in penning this tune?
We just wrote it together. I still like the first 45 version best even though my singing sucks.
Is it true that the band had already split up before the album was released?
Just doing what bands do… and I think the three of us were more blues oriented.
What musical projects have you been involved in since The Legend?
Too many to count.
Have any involved members of The Legend?
What are you up to musically these days?
Dragonfly has been reissued numerous times, with the Gear Fab Records and Sunbeam Records reissues coming immediately to mind. What are your feelings about the album all these years after its original release?
Proud. Appreciate you and everyone who still like what we were putting down.
What has happened to the members of The Legend in the years following its split up.
Duncan in Colorado, Russ in EP and I am in East Texas.
Are you still in contact with any members of the band?
The three who are still alive!
I know there are lots of things that I haven’t covered in this interview Barry. What would you like to share with It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine readers that has not been discussed?
The only thing that would probably be of interest, especially to drummers is, when I recorded the first Legend album in American recording studios with Richard Polodor, if you Google Richard you will find that he recorded Sandy Nelson with Teen Beat and Let There be Drums. He had me use the same snare drum for the Legend album. The beginning of Portrait of Youth shows the sound. He got out of Sandy Nelsons Snare!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Barry. I can’t thank you enough
with Randy Russ of The Legend/Dragonfly
– Kevin Rathert
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