Born in the Jamaican coastal village of Savanna La Mar, Ronnie Davis became a member of the popular rocksteady vocal group the Tennors in 1967. With one of the group's two vocalists, George "Clive" Murphy, serving as mentor, he soon took over lead vocal duties for the band. Over the next four years, he appeared on more than 50 tunes released by Treasure Isle, Gay Feet, Prince Buster, Dynamic, and the band's own Tennors label. With the Tennors' disbanding, as rocksteady evolved into reggae, Davis took his first steps as a soloist.
Bridging the rocksteady era of the late '60s with the reggae of the '70s, Ronnie Davis is one of Jamaica's top vocalists. Recording more than 100 tunes, produced by Bunny Lee in the early '70s, Davis recorded his first chart-topping tune, "Won't You Come Home," for producer Lloyd Campbell in 1975. A single featuring the same riddim with vocals recut by Keith Porter and vocal harmonies by Davis, was credited to Keith & Ronnie went initially released. With the addition of a third vocalist, Lloyd Ricketts, the duo was renamed the Itals. Re-releasing the track as "Inna Dis a Time," the group scored with one of the year's best-selling tunes. Although their attempts to build a loyal audience proved an uphill climb, Davis and the Itals attracted international attention after the album was reviewed favorably by New York Times music critic Robert Palmer. Touring with Roots Radics in 1983, the group was named "one of the top one hundred artists," by Pollstar, two years later. The Radics' album, Rasta Philosophy, garnered a Grammy nomination in 1987. Leaving the Itals to pursue a solo career in 1995, Davis formed a vocal group, Ronnie Davis & Idren, featuring harmony singers Roy Smith, Robert Doctor, and Lloyd Ricketts. Performing their debut concerts in the United States in 1997, the group released its first album, Come Straight, shortly after their return to Jamaica.
~ Craig Harris