Jimmie Davis

Induction Year: 1971

Birth Name: James Houston Davis

Birth Date: 09-11-1899

Place of Birth: Beech Springs, Louisiana

Death Date: 11-05-2000

Jimmie Davis was the son of sharecroppers and one of 11 children. He was born in Beech Springs, Louisiana, a town that no longer exists, but was near Quitman, in Jackson Parish. Despite his family's poverty, he managed to work his way through college and eventually earned a master's degree in history. He taught at a female college in Shreveport before beginning his musical career.

Davis launched his long recording career in 1928. He was initially much influenced by bluesy country superstar Jimmie Rodgers. Davis is notable as an early country musician who performed with African-American sidemen. His 1930 recording of "Where the Old Red River Flows" was his biggest early success, but his 1932 series of risqué blues tunes later became even more prominent. All of these songs were self-composed.

"Nobody's Darling But Mine," initially recorded in 1934, became one of the biggest country hits of the Great Depression. Even bigger was "You Are My Sunshine" (1940), which became a much-recorded standard and a state song of Louisiana.

His popularity as a musician led to a successful career in politics. Jimmie Davis served as the governor of Louisiana from 1944 to 1948 and then was re-elected and served his second term from 1960 to 1964.

Jimmie Davis has more than 700 song titles to his name, including such enduring favorites as "Sweethearts or Strangers," "Shackles and Chains" and "There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder."

"You Are My Sunshine" was recorded three times prior to the Jimmie Davis version. The Rice Brothers Gang, who issued it in 1939, were active in Shreveport, as was Davis. Paul Rice was said to be the song's author, and another claimant was Georgia singer-songwriter Oliver Hood. But Davis and his accompanist Charles Mitchell copyrighted it. To the end of his life, Davis insisted that he composed it when he was a graduate student at Louisiana State University.

He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1972, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Jimmie Davis performed until he was age 99 and lived to be 101 years old.

"Bang Bang"

Jimmie Davis1947 #4 country

"Barnyard Stomp"

Jimmie Davis1932 
Jess Hilliard1932 

"Bear Cat Mama from Horner's Corners"

Jimmie Davis1931 
Gene Autry1931 

"By the Grave of Nobody's Darling"

Jimmie Davis1937 
The Prairie Ramblers1938 
Girls of the Golden West1938 
Wilf Carter1938 

"Grievin' My Heart Out for You"

Jimmie Davis1946 #4 country

"I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine"

(written with Johnnie Roberts)

Jimmie Davis1936 
Wilf Carter1937 
The Philyaw Brothers1938 
The Prairie Ramblers1938 
Carl Smith1965 
Mac Wiseman1976 

"Is It Too Late Now"

Jimmie Davis1944 #3 country
Flatt & Scruggs1949 
The Osborne Brothers1951 

"Nobody's Darling But Mine"

Jimmie Davis1934 
Gene Autry1935 
The Light Crust Doughboys1935 
The Prairie Ramblers1935 
Tex Ritter1935 
Wade Mainer1936 
Phelps Virginia Rounders1936 
The Louvin Brothers1958 
Slim Whitman1963 
Brother Oswald1976 
The Statler Brothers1980 
Wilma Lee Cooper1981 
Country Gazette1984 
The Osborne Brothers1991 
The Chieftains & Emmylou Harris1992 
Pete Fountain1993 

"Red Nightgown Blues"

Jimmie Davis1932 
Jess Hilliard1932 

"Sewing Machine Blues"

Jimmie Davis1932 

"Shackles and Chains"

Jimmie Davis1938 
Mac Wiseman1955 
Marty Robbins1958 
The Stanley Brothers1960 
Sonny James1965 
The Greenbriar Boys1966 
Stonewall Jackson1968 
Jimmy Martin1969 
Arlo Guthrie1972 
David Allan Coe1978 
Osborne Brothers & Mac Wiseman1979 #95 country
Earl Scruggs & Tom T. Hall1982 
The Kentucky Colonels1984 
Merle Haggard2002 
Buddy Spicher2004 
Mark Collie2006 
The Stonemans2009 

"She's a Hum Dum Dinger"

Jimmie Davis1930 
Gene Autry1931 
Jess Hilliard1931 
Buddy Jones1941 

"Someone to Care"

Jimmie Davis1953 
The Blackwood Brothers1953 
Red Foley1958 
Rev. Cleophus Robinson1961 
The Chuck Wagon Gang1970 
Bill Gaither2005 
The Inspirations2005 

"Sweethearts or Strangers"

(written with Lou Wayne)

Jimmie Davis1940 
Bill Boyd Cowboy Ramblers1941 
Bob Atcher1941 
Gene Autry1942 
Spade Cooley1946 
Carl Perkins1957 
Faron Young1957 
Tompall Glaser1977 
Merle Haggard2002 

"There's a Chill on the Hill Tonight"

(written with Nelson Cogane, Sammy Mysels, Dick Robertson)

Jimmie Davis1944 #4 country
Moon Mullican1947 

"There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder"

(written with Lee Blastic, Ekko Whelan)

Tex Ritter1944 #2 country, #26 pop
Jimmie Davis1945 #1 country
Ernest Tubb1945 
Bonnie Guitar1957 
Bill Haley & His Comets1961 
Sons of the Pioneers1962 
Slim Whitman1964 
Jim Reeves1964 
Wanda Jackson1966 

"When It's Round-Up Time in Heaven"

Jimmie Davis1933 
The Light Crust Doughboys1934 
Eddy Arnold1954 

"Where the Old Red River Flows"

Jimmie Davis1930 
Loy Bodine1932 
The Pine Ridge Boys1939 
Hank Williams1951 
Porter Wagoner1966 
Jimmie Davis1962 #15 country
John Hartford1971 
The Whitstein Brothers1984 
King Wilkie2004 
The Crowe Brothers2005 

"You Are My Sunshine"

The Pine Ridge Boys1939 
The Rice Brothers Gang1939 
Bob Atcher1940 
Jimmie Davis1940 
Wilf Carter1940 
Ocie Stockard & Wanderers1941 
Bing Crosby1941 #19 pop
Wayne King Orchestra1941 #20 pop
Judy Canova1941 
Gene Autry1941 #23 pop
Nat King Cole1955 
Faron Young1957 
Mitch Miller SingAlong Gang1958 
Johnny & the Hurricanes1960 #91 pop
Ricky Nelson1960 
Pete Seeger1961 
Ray Charles1962 #1 R&B,#7 pop
Marvin Gaye1963 
Andy Williams1963 
The Ventures1963 
Jerry Lee Lewis1965 
Ike & Tina Turner1965 
The Righteous Brothers1965 
Doc Severinsen Band1965 
Aretha Franklin1967 
Mitch Ryder1967 #88 pop
Mose Allison1968 
The Mills Brothers1968 
Mississippi John Hurt1968 
Dyke & The Blazers1970 #30 R&B
Sonny James1970 
Mickey Gilley1974 
Bryan Ferry1974 
Chuck Berry1975 
Duane Eddy, Waylon, Willie1977 #69 country
Willie Nelson & Leon Russell1979 
Delbert McClinton1989 
Riders in the Sky1996 
Norman Blake2000 
Johnny Cash2003 
Carly Simon2007 
B. B. King2008 

Jimmie Davis

Induction Year: 1971