Alun Davies is a Welsh guitarist, studio musician, recording artist, and composer who rose to fame primarily with his supporting guitar work and backing vocals as accompanist for English musician Cat Stevens from early 1970–1977; and from 2006 through the present day.
Prior to working with Stevens, Davies co-wrote, sang and performed on two albums; in 1963, with Jon Mark, and later, as a part of a band with Mark and three others called "Sweet Tuesday" in 1968, when folk-rock music was still in its infancy. When their label declared bankruptcy, Davies was invited to join Mark in another musical venture, but declined, instead, finding work as a session musician; sent to work with Cat Stevens, who was attempting to change his sound and advance in the music world. Davies' experience, similar tastes in the emerging folk-rock genre, and abilities placed him in a pivotal role resulting in Stevens charting hit songs and a string of RIAA platinum certified breakthrough albums. Tea for the Tillerman, and Teaser and the Firecat, within the year propelled Stevens to stardom and a stellar musical career, and solidified a friendship between the two men. Davies, who recorded two solo albums after a few years found comparatively little commercial success, particularly after several years of sitting in the charismatic shadow of Stevens, but continued to tour with him and recorded on each of his albums, until Stevens' retirement from the pop scene and conversion to Islam in 1977.
In late 2005, when Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) returned again to write and perform once again, he did so with the amicable support of his friend and long-time right hand man; although nearly three decades had passed, and the two men had followed extremely different paths during the interim. Davies continues to perform with Stevens/Islam to the present day, in addition to other musical projects.
After a time, the two had enough of sailing. Davies was content playing as a session musician for Fontana Records, touring with some musicians of note, including Spencer Davis, and Marianne Faithfull. Davies was additionally recruited as producer for Jeremy Taylor's folk album, with whom Davies guested on two songs.
Davies and Mark reunited with Nicky Hopkins and recorded a sophomore album in 1968, under the name "Sweet Thursday". This second album was on the market, but it never had the chance to be promoted. Fontana Records abruptly declared bankruptcy, and the musicians never had the opportunity to perform their new material on stage, or promote the album.
Davies returned to session work in the music industry. For a time, Davies played in folk music clubs, and gave guitar lessons to support himself. "I began concentrating more on my guitar playing. I then found there was a lot of session work available for a finger-style acoustic player", he said to Beat Instrumental Magazine. He continued to write new material of his own, with the hopes of a solo album in the future.
As his only accompanist on Stevens' first tour of the United States, Davies commented nervously that the two experienced some stage fright, upon hearing that they'd be opening for Steve Winwood's band, Traffic. However, the concert was a hit, and had three standing ovations, bolstering both the confidence of the band and the sales of Stevens' albums. Working alongside Stevens, Alun was a thoroughly essential partner in seeing Stevens catapult into world-fame. Within a short time, Davies was regarded by asute fans as a perfectionist, arriving before Stevens at each concert to personally check out both the sound and instruments after the sound checks, and practicing the material, until he was satisfied that the audience would receive the best concert available. Such finishing touches kept him the most essential member of Stevens' artistic team. Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat both were platinum albums in the United States, and each produced top charting singles. Lauded as Stevens' right-hand man, Davies put off his dreams of solo albums because he insisted that Stevens' work was more essential, and he remained loyal to him, saying he would eventually find time for the project.
In 1972, and 1974, Davies' at last found the time and opportunity to launch his own solo albums. Waste of Time, in 1972, which had seven songs written or co-written by Davies, and supported by Stevens on piano, with other members of Cat Stevens band, including drummer Gerry Conway. 1974 saw the release of Daydo, Davies' nickname until age 18. The album also was shown similar assistance by Stevens and his band. Both albums featured Stevens on piano and were produced by Stevens and Paul Samwell Smith. Both solo efforts received mixed reviews.
After Cat Stevens left the pop business, for what was believed to be the remainder of his life, Davies confessed feeling quite sad; saying that after being so fortunate to have attached himself to a "major talent" for so long, that there was a period of time that he mourned, as did quite a few others. Partly, this was because once musicians joined Stevens' band, they were unlikely to leave in what many of the bandmates considered not just a tightly knit band, but an unusually positive assemblage of dedicated professionals who became fast friends. Davies commented that he hadn't seen this major change in Stevens' life coming, due to Stevens search for spiritual fulfillment, and had experimented with Numerology, Buddhism, I-Ching, and many kinds of religions. Thus, Davies thought he was merely going through another phase right up until the last month or so, according to his contribution to the interview that covered Cat Stevens' career on the Vh1's series, Behind the Music.
Davies also currently performs with the group Good Men in the Jungle with his former bandmate from their "Cat Stevens" days; drummer Gerry Conway, (although Conway, also formerly of Jethro Tull, plays most often with Fairport Convention). Others in this band include Davies' daughter, Becky Moncurr.
1968 Sweet Thursday
1972 Waste Of Time in 1972 Supporting musicians
Waste of Time Davies' first solo effort Supporting musicians
Alun Davies' only solo albums as of 2008 have been Waste of Time in 1972, followed by Daydo, in the same year. Much of the material was written as early as 1970; however, this was just prior to Davies' introduction, backup work, and devoted friendship with Cat Stevens. With the intention of releasing the material as soon as possible, Davies bemoaned the fact that he had so little time to debut his own work, but stated that he had no regrets. The LP at last was released in the summer of 1972. An editorial appears on the sleeve of the LP from Jon Mark, of Sweet Thursday, and the Mark-Almond Band.
Daydo has the most distinct folk-rock sound, a complimentary recording to the work he had done for Cat Stevens for the previous two years. Appearing on the album were several musicians from the Cat Stevens band.