When it comes to contemporary music, Billy Davis did it all: as performer, composer, arranger, producer and impresario.
A native of Detroit, Davis began his career in the late 1950s, forming the Four Tops, one of the most popular singing groups of rock-n-roll's Golden Era.
Along with Berry Gordy Jr., Davis co-founded the Motown concept. He collaborated in discovering talented new artists and developing them into hit performers known for the famous "Motown Sound." He also was A&R director for Chess Records, where he produced hit singles that sold in excess of 20 million records.
Leaving Chess Records in 1968, Davis joined McCann Erickson. In his 19-year association with the advertising agency, as music director, creative concept writer, composer and producer, and rising to senior vice president, he was involved with writing, producing and popularizing new "song-form" advertising that won every award the industry offers. These included "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing";"It's the Real Thing"; "Have a Coke and a Smile"; "Mean Joe Green"; "Coke Is It!"; and "Country Sunshine," all for the Coca-Cola Company.
Other memorable and award-winning campaigns with which he was associated include "Miller Time" for Miller Brewing; "Soup Is Good Food" for Campbell's; and "The Sound of Sony" and "The One and Only" for Sony.
Billy Davis also wrote for and/or produced for many of the music world's top artists, including James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Phoebe Snow, Roy Orbison, the Moody Blues, the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Marvin Gaye, Loretta Lynn, Etta James, Ray Charles, the Temptations, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, Billy Stewart and Jackie Wilson, among many others.
Davis also found time for important charitable causes and international projects. He was a supporter of Chess in the Schools, a nonprofit organization that teaches the game of chess to economically disadvantaged children in 160 New York City schools. Through chess, children learn to develop their reading, concentration and problem-solving skills, thus building confidence and self esteem.
Billy Davis also volunteered to participate in Worldlink 2001, helping to promote the vision of "linking the world on United Nations Day." Initiated to empower youths to recognize their role and responsibility in world affairs and to become active participants, the program linked students from Miami Dade County public schools via cyberspace to thousands of peers in more than 15 nations.