Gary Davis, nephew of Richard "Groove" Holmes: From P&P Disco to Hip-Hop to Miami Bass to indie films

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I've always known Gary Davis as a P&P Records cohort, mostly from his production of the Disco classic "Got to get Your Love". I, like many, figured the Chocolate Star label I often see his name attached to was connected to Heavenly Star, the P&P associated label.

About 3 or 4 years ago, I stumbled across a Chocolate Star Miami Bass record with Gary Davis credits. It was a group named Fresh 2 Rock from roughly 1987/1988 and seemed to be the first record to feature DJ Jock D of Cut it Up Def fame. I've pondered this for some time.

I recently interviewed Jock D in depth for the book I'm working on. Jock explained to me that when he was in his final year or two of high school, he worked at a McDonalds in Riviera beach (outside West Palm Beach) and his manager at the time was named Gary Davis, which is how he got his first break.

When I asked Jock if he was *the* Gary Davis, Jock was unfamiliar with Gary's catalog, but knew that Gary had an extensive career in the music industry. I then wrote a short online bio on Jock citing Gary Davis.

Yesterday, Gary Davis sent me a friend request on MySpace (!!!). I followed up with a message requesting a phone interview in the near future. That night, Gary unexpectedly called me.

It was a very interesting 1 1/2 hour talk. Like many producers I've spoken with, he was classically trained music composer. He was completely unaware of the current climate of Pop music when he was in College, only listening to classical.

This is when he stated his uncle is Richard "Groove" Holmes. He said when he was younger, he didn't know Holmes that well, but after Holmes stopped performing on a regular, Gary got to know him well and studied beneath him, shifting his focus to Jazz improv and Funk rhythms. All of Gary's synth work on later records were performed on Holmes' pricey synth, as at that time the cost was way too high for them to own one (pre-Fairlight of course, much less pre-Emulator).

When Gary was a senior in College, he was introduced to Peter Brown by Wayne Ford on February 13, 1979. Gary became P&P's in house arranger and session muscian, going so far as to build their in house band (Sanction) for Peter. Gary noted that when he joined the outfit, Peter was so broke that they had to hop the train just to get to the studio, but after P&P began dabbling in Hip-Hop production, Peter was driving a Cadillac within a year. Oddly enough, Peter's method of producing Hip-Hop was even more unconventional than the other rap labels. Spoonie G's session was just Spoonie rapping to a click-track, no music. Peter would either build the music track later, or sometimes, just remove vocals from an unused Disco track and slap it under the recorded rap.

Gary is probably known best today for Clyde Alexander's version of Got to Get your Love (although he says "The Pop" was his big seller of the day - Gary didn't realize Got to Get your Love was released by Peter at the time). Clyde was only 15 when recorded. Even stranger about this record is Clyde's voice is barely heard on the record. Gary wasn't present at the mixdown of the track and the mix engineers and Peter assumed the song would perform better if the female background vocalists were mixed into the foreground. I wonder how Clyde took this. Gary doesn't even own a copy of this record and has found that due to the skyrocketing costs on ebay etc., he can't afford to buy it. Gary began Chocolate Star productions circa 1980/1981, forming it into a full fledged label nearer 1984.

Gary's uncle moved to West Palm Beach Florida in the early 1980's. Gary went for a visit and realized it was the polar opposite of the rough Camden New Jersey, so May 1984, he packed up his wife and daughter and moved, completely unaware of his noteriety in the tri-state area of Pen/NY/NJ.

No matter the situation, Gary has always maintained a day job managing restaraunts. Upon arriving in Florida, he landed a job managing Popeyes chicken, which prompted him to record the restaurant's radio ad in his home studio. That led him to have a relationship with radio personality Mighty Michael at WPOM.

Michael introduced him to Damon Ware, the man who'd go on to found Beware Records. Ware introduced Gary to the talent he was courting, a slew of 15 year old kids, who incedentally, went to school with Gary's daughter. Gary also met other young upstarts from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, notably Luke 'Skyywalker' Campbell and Billy Hines of Royal Sounds Record Store (later 4-Sight Records). This, of course, was right on the cusp of Miami Bass being invented in 1985. Luke's 2nd act for Skyywalker Redcords after 2 Live Crew was Kooley C, who Gary introduced Luke to.

Since Gary already had a track record working with known NY rappers, and had the home studio to start projects immediatly, he employed nearly all the WPB talent that'd go on to become stars in the Miami Bass scene before they even got signed to anyone else. The bulk of these recordings were never issued, although Chocolate Star did release a handful of 12"s and a slew of cassette compilations over the years from his Florida days.

The thing that held him up as being sound central number one in WPB was the shifting tides from studio muscians to samples in the late 80's. All the kids he was working with wanted to work with the SP1200 sampler and rehash old songs, something Gary wasn't ready to purchase and do. Eventaully, each rapper signed with labels who was ready to do this (Kooley C with Luke, Danny D with Beware, Dynamix II with Bass Station, etc.). The primary rapper who found her way back to Gary over the years was Princess MC, a female rapper known most for her work with Beatmaster Clay D prior.

Gary says in the past ten years, he's switched his focus from street music to independent films, something that may be closely related to those of Master P. A number of his films are reportedly avaiable via Netflix today.

and PappaWheelie, author of Have You Ever Been Poxy Fuled? (PappaWheelie 2), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 14:32 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh, wow.

Andy_K (Andy_K), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 14:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Gary got to know him well and studied beneath him

Studying beneath Groove Holmes? That must have really hurt.

Cool story though.

kwhitehead (stephen schmidt), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 18:26 (thirteen years ago) link

Great story. how many degrees of seperation between Richard Groove Holmes and Master P, then?

deej.. (deej..), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 18:43 (thirteen years ago) link

But seriously its amazing the kinds of coincidences and connections that exist between artists and musicians.

deej.. (deej..), Wednesday, 20 September 2006 18:48 (thirteen years ago) link


Warren Cowley (dubble-u-c), Saturday, 23 September 2006 19:36 (twelve years ago) link

two years pass...


moonship journey to baja, Saturday, 6 December 2008 06:26 (ten years ago) link

SUPER sick:

moonship journey to baja, Saturday, 6 December 2008 06:27 (ten years ago) link

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