Cow Cow Davenport is remembered most for his famous song "Cow Cow Blues" which is one of the earliest recorded examples of the Boogie-Woogie or Barrelhouse, as it's sometimes called.
Davenport learned to play piano and organ in his father's church from his mother who was the organist and it looked like he was going to follow in the family footsteps until he was expelled from the Alabama Theological Seminary in 1911 for playing Ragtime at a church function. Davenport's early career revolved around carnivals and vaudeville. He toured TOBA with an act called Davenport and Company with Blues singer Dora Carr and they recorded together in 1925 and 1926. The act broke up when Carr got married. Davenport briefly teamed up with Blues singer Ivy Smith in 1928 and worked as a talent scout for Brunswick and Vocalion records in the late 1920s and played rent parties in Chicago.
He moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1930 and toured the TOBA vaudeville circuit and recorded with Sam Price. In 1938 he suffered a stroke that left his right hand somewhat paralyzed and affected his piano playing for the rest of his life, but he remained active as a vocalist until he regained enough strength in his hand to play again. In the early 1940s Cow Cow briefly left the music business and worked as a washroom attendant at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street in New York. In 1942 Freddie Slack's Orchestra scored a huge hit with "Cow Cow Boogie" with vocals by seventeen year old Ella Mae Morse which sparked the Boogie-Woogie craze of the early 1940s; this led to a revival of interest in Davenport's music. He tried to make a "comeback" in the forties and fifties but his career was often interrupted by sickness. He died in 1955 of heart problems in Cleveland.
Video: Cow Cow Davenport - I've been Hoodooed [with Jim Towel] http://youtu.be/_0K_xg-rZso
Amazon: Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport
iTunes: Cow Cow Davenport and Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport and Cow Cow Davenport with Sam Tarpley & Ivy Smith