Bud Davies: 1924-2006
Susan Whitall / The Detroit News
Bud Davies, a key transitional figure in Detroit/Windsor radio history and host of a local TV dance show, died Oct. 20 in Florida after a long illness. He was 82.
Davies started at CKLW-AM (800) in the early '40s as a teenager, and his long run at the station didn't end until 1966.
He caught on just as network radio was dying and the focus turned to personable local disc jockeys hosting record shows.
"He had an engaging personality on both the radio and television." said David Carson, author of "Rockin' Down the Dial: The Detroit Sound of Radio."
As a child, Carson recalls seeing Davies on his late '50s CKLW-TV afternoon show, "Bud Davies Top 10 Dance Party."
"He stood behind a podium, like Dick Clark on 'American Bandstand,' He was very upbeat, and he always dressed well. He had a great smile, and I always remember that he wore cufflinks," Carson said this week.
Davies was born in Windsor in 1924, and he grew up pretending to call Detroit Tigers games using his mother's tea stainer as a microphone.
He got his first job at CKLW, as a mailboy, through his minister father, who hosted a weekly talk show called, "The Quiet Santuary."
The late '50s and early '60s were Davies' most popular years on the station. Musical acts appearing in Detroit would always make a stop at his "Top 10 Dance Party."
Carson, who interviewed Davies in recent years at his Florida home, says when they spoke, Davies stressed how much fun it was to be a disc jockey in the mid-'50s.
"He said that by the mid-'50s they had a lot of freedom on the air. One minute, he'd be playing a pop song by Jo Stafford or Frankie Laine, the next minute he'd be playing Bill Haley & the Comets. It was a very exciting time." Tom Shannon met Davies' when he joined CKLW in 1964 as a night jock.
"I had no idea when I got there until about six months later, what a legendary guy this Bud Davies was," said Shannon on Friday. "He pioneered the local television show. There was Bill Kennedy, Poopdeck Paul, all these big names in Detroit television...But Bud was even more legendary than they were. People used to say to me, 'Oh, you work with Bud Davies?'"
Davies had a deep resonant voice. "It was a heavy-duty voice. He'd say, 'This is CK country,' and it gave me goosebumps," Shannon said. "My God, he had pipes."
Davies' son, Bryn Davies, recalls attending a Supremes concert at the Roostertail with his dad in 1966 and being impressed that the Supremes and Motown boss Berry Gordy Jr. knew his father so well.
The elder Davies had a lifelong passion for baseball, and he was rooting for the Tigers up until his death. He was also a passionate Red Wings fan and friend.
"I remember my parents had a Red Wings party in our basement in 1957," Byrn Davies said. We were so excited to have the whole team in our house that it wasn't until Gordie Howe tucked us in that we eventually fell asleep."
After his CKLW stint, Davies moved to Toronto where he was on the air with CKEY and did voiceovers for national commercials. He moved to Florida in 1978.
Davies is survived by his wife, Mollie, five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral services in Del Ray Beach, Fla. were private.