Corowa guitarist a mentor, mate, inspiration

COROWA guitarist Ross Davis was one of the Border’s most passionate and talented musicians.

The well-respected entertainer and grazier who battled the effects of a vascular condition for most of his adult life, died in Corowa Hospital on Saturday, June 30, aged 63.

Davis performed with a host of high-profile musicians during a 13-year stint as music director of Albury Carols by Candlelight, including Tina Arena, Rick Price, Vanetta Fields, Barry Crocker, Karen Knowles and Border-raised country stars Tania and Lee Kernaghan.

On Sunday, Lee Kernaghan posted a Facebook message that lamented the loss of “a great mate and one of Australia’s finest musicians” who “will always be an inspiration to me”.

“Ross was a musical mentor to me when I was playing pubs and clubs in the Riverina and learning about music,” Kernaghan wrote.

“We formed a duo, wrote songs together and recorded several jingles where I got some experience with multi-track recording.”

Davis first picked up the guitar at boarding school in Canberra and after moving to Melbourne joined the band Mad Mole, performing alongside Daddy Cool founding member Gary Young in Fat Cats (later renamed Bandicoot) and in a band called Oakland.

Wodonga entertainer Rodney Vincent, who delivered the eulogy at Davis’ funeral in Corowa yesterday, paid tribute to his friend.

“He was one of the best and very well respected in the industry,” says Vincent.

Davis met his wife, Sue, when he was playing in a band at a dance in Yarrawonga in 1973.

After marrying in Bendigo in 1978, they moved to Albury where he joined hot Border band Syndicate which enjoyed a huge following at the Lavington Sports Club (now Lavington Panthers).

Sue Davis says her husband was a very giving man who displayed a lot of strength.

“I married him for his intelligence and his strength and his talent; he was a very loving person,” she says.

The pair moved to Sydney where Davis performed with the bands Cheetah and Vegas and did session work with former Easybeats Harry Vanda and George Young.

After returning to the family farm at Corowa, Davis performed as a duo with Rodney Vincent at venues up and down the Murray River and later with Trevor Doddridge as the Bull Plain Riders.

A jazz player at heart, in recent years he played with Zoot Suit, Night Owls, Hotshots, Sharyn Bilston, Paul Gibbs and Maurice Milani, among others, wrote and performed radio and TV jingles, taught at the Murray Conservatorium and started his own music school in Corowa.

Family and friends, including many Border musicians, attended his funeral on Wednesday in Corowa.

Davis is survived by his wife, Sue, and children Jay, Matt and Becky.

Ross Davis in 2005.

Ross Davis in 2005.