If you are a performer with an ambition to become famous, for the past 10 years or so you will have had the opportunity to take a fast track to instant stardom. I’m talking, of course, about TV programmes such as The Voice and X Factor. If you have something resembling talent and can make it past the initial stages that eliminate the cringe-fodder, the weirdos and the no-hopers, you could be in with a chance of realising your ambition.

Even if you don’t get to the finals, you will have undergone professional coaching, met influential showbiz people and have been seen by millions of viewers worldwide. However much people hate the concept of X Factor or the programme itself, there is no doubt that for some lucky participants the TV show has helped them bypass years of hard work.

In the mid sixties, when 17 year old Kim Davis from the north east began her career as a professional singer, ‘fast track’ wasn’t in a performer’s vocabulary. Although Kim definitely had what’s now known as the X factor, It took her nearly 17 years of hard work to achieve a hit single and, tragically, those 17 years turned out to be less than one half of her short life.

Kim and The Kinetics in 1964

Kim and The Kinetics in 1964

Kim Davis emerged as a force to be reckoned with in1964 when she started singing in north east clubs with a four piece backing band, collectively known as Kim and Kinetics. One of the clubs at which the band appeared regularly was the Beach Club in South Shields. With her great voice and dynamic stage presence it wasn’t long before she was recognised as being a potential star. Whilst performing on the club circuit, possibly at the Beach Club, Kim came to the attention of Newcastle club owner and entrepreneur Ray Grehan. Ray had been involved in Newcastle’s Club A’Gogo in its early days and by 1964 he owned a couple of north east clubs – The Scene in Middlesbrough and the Blue Note in Sunderland. Ray Grehan became the manager of Kim and the Kinetics and started promoting them in the north east and beyond.

In September 1964 Kim and the Kinetics became part of the Geordie Sound tour with five other north east bands. The Geordie Sound was designed to showcase north east talent following the Animals success. The show was scheduled to kick off in the north east followed by a number of bookings nationwide. In addition to the north east bands, a number of popular national acts including the Merseybeats and a young Joe Cocker were booked in an attempt to boost audience numbers. The Geordie Sound tour was not particularly successful and did little to raise Kim’s profile either locally or nationally. Following the tour Kim and the Kinetics continued to play at venues in the north east, still under the management of Ray Grehan.

Excerpt from the Geordie Sound Tour souvenir programme

Excerpt from the Geordie Sound Tour souvenir programme

At the beginning of 1965 Ray Grehan bought into a struggling entertainment agency in the Doncaster area called the Chris Wainwright Agency. Around this time I started playing sax for the Kylastrons who, at the time, were getting work through Ray Grehan at his two north east clubs; the Blue Note and the Scene. Ray started providing additional bookings for the Kylastrons and Kim and the Kinetics in the Yorkshire area through the newly acquired Wainwright agency. On several occasions in the early months of 1965 the Kylastrons stayed in the same digs as the Kinetics when both bands were playing in the Yorkshire area. It was rumoured at the time that Ray wasn’t happy with the existing Kinetics lineup. At the end of February Ray approached me during a Kylastron gig at the Blue Note and asked me if I would join Kim’s band as a sax player. As things were going OK with the Kylastrons I declined the offer. Not long after Kim parted company with Kinetics and needed a whole new band.

In the months that followed Kim teamed up with a top north east band – The Del 5. At the time the Del 5 were playing regularly at the Ray Grehan’s Blue Note club. According to drummer Mike Tulloch, the band was approached by Wally Nash who managed the Blue Note for Ray and asked if they would be interested in backing Kim Davis on a professional basis. The band agreed and started performing with her under the new name of ‘Kim D and the Del 5’ in what was to become a very successful partnership.

4 Kim and del 5
Kim and the Del 5 – left to right: Bernie Watson (keys), Billy Wilson (guitar/vocals), Colin Woodland (lead guitar), Mike Tulloch (drums), Kim and Sid Cross (bass)

Kim D and the Del 5 toured throughout Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire playing at contrasting venues such as the Scala in Doncaster and Ollerton Miner’s Welfare Club near Mansfield. They were also doing gigs as far away as the Rhondda Valley in South Wales where they received great receptions, in particular when Kim sang a couple of Shirley Bassey songs.

Around the back end of 1965 or early 1966, Ray Grehan arranged an important audition for Kim and the band at the Starlight Rooms in London. The audition was in front of Colin Berlin, who was Tom Jones’ booking agent and the London impresario, Arthur Howes. Unfortunately, the audition failed to achieve a deal for Kim and the band as Berlin and Howes were not happy with Ray Grehan’s terms.

Although neither of the agents signed Kim and the Del 5, the band did subsequently get some prestigious gigs through Colin Berlin, including the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth and Sheffield City Hall. They also toured with Roy Orbison on his 1966 Spring UK tour which also included the Walker Brothers and Lulu. The 33 venue tour opened on 25th March 1966 at Finsbury Park Astoria and closed at the Coventry Theatre on 1st May 1966. The Del 5s drummer, Mike Tulloch remembers travelling on the tour bus with Roy Orbison whilst the Walker brothers travelled separately in a Mark 10 Jaguar. On the second day of the tour Roy fell off a motorbike and had to do at least one gig with his leg in a cast.

5 Orbison tourAfter the tour, Kim D and the Del 5 went back to playing the club circuit in various parts of England and Wales. By this time they had released a single on Decca records called ‘Don’t Take Your Lovin’ Away’. The song was written by a Welsh songwriter called Rod Thomas who the band met on one of their tours in Wales – more about the song on this link. In spite of the record being featured as the ‘Hallmarked Hit of the Week’ on DJ Tony Hall’s show for Radio Luxemburg, it failed to take off in the charts. Kim also had some TV exposure without the band on the Tom Jones Show plus some other work for Tyne Tees Television but this, too, failed to launch her as a national star.

Eventually Kim D and the Del 5 parted company leaving Kim without a backing band. At the beginning of April 1968 during one of my gigs with a band called Village at The Carousel Club in Chester-le-Street, I was approached by Ray Grehan for a second time and asked if I was interested in joining a band he was managing. Once again I declined the offer of the work, which I presumed was to be part of Kim’s new backing band. As it happens, the guitarist from my previous band, Keith Pongo Waring started playing with Kim so I would have been in good company. The new band, which was to include a two piece sax section was called the Del 7.

Sax player, Mick Appleby, who played alongside Pongo in the Del 7 fondly remembers his days of performing with Kim: –

‘I was privileged to work with Kim D and the Del 5 for a couple of years up until about 1968. I played tenor sax, and stepped in when Peter (the Colonel) Parkinson left the band. We toured the northern club and South Wales circuits almost continuously. Kim was a knock-out live performer, and none of the recorded stuff I’ve heard does her justice. That touring life was great fun (what I can remember of it) but also very hard work – especially lugging Bernie Watson’s Hammond organ in and out of clubs twice a night (we were almost always booked for a double, and often with a Sunday lunchtime show thrown in for good measure).

Kim took it all in her stride, and never gave a bad performance even though travelling in beaten-up group vans with a bunch of uncouth louts, and living from week to week in theatrical digs.

The Del 5 or Del 7 formed and reformed a couple of times; we ended our days with a really nice gig as resident band at the Sands club in Whitley Bay (until it got burnt down) – and then went back on the road for a few weeks until the band finally imploded somewhere about Spennymoor, or possibly Chester-le-Steet.

The highlights that I remember: Opening with Kim at the ABC theate Blackpool for Paul Jones (Manfred Mann), Spending the week with P.J.Proby at the Top Hat in Spennymoor, meeting (the then unknown) Joe Cocker in the Penny farthing club in Sheffield, Kim blowing Tom Jones off the stage in his own club in Treforest (admittedly he was well boozed up that night), and of course there was the Animals reunion at the City Hall in Newcastle, which is shown in the photo. – (below)

At all these diverse venues, Kim could hold the stage with the best of them and had a fantastic repertoire as well as great stage presence and a fantastic voice.’

6 kimKim Davis and the Del 7 at Newcastle City Hall – left to right: Sid Cross (bass), Keith Pongo Waring (guitar), Tommy Sloan (drums), Kim, Peter Parkinson (tenor sax), Mick Appleby (baritone sax)

During the period that Kim Davis was managed by Ray Grehan, she released four singles on various labels: –

Don’t Take Your Lovin’ Away / Feelin’ Blue (Kim D and The Del 5) – 1966 on Decca
The Real Thing / Come On Baby (Kim D) – 1968 on Pye
Until It’s Time For You To Go / I Hold No Grudge (Kim Davis) – 1968 on CBS
Are You Ready For Love / A Taste Of Excitement (Kim Davis) – 1969 on CBS

7 until its time disc

Click on the tracks below to listen to Kim:-

record iconDon’t Take Your Lovin’ AwayFiller2
record iconFeelin’ BlueFiller2
record iconThe Real ThingFiller2
record iconCome On BabyFiller2
record iconAre You ReadyFiller2

Although none of the singles were chart hits, a couple of them became popular with Northern Soul fans and can still be found on various Northern Soul compilation CDs. In the seventies Kim Davis worked around the north east club scene without a backing band. By this time her career as a solo recording artist had come to an end.

Then her fortunes changed. In 1979 she joined a disco/soul band called Eruption, replacing their singer Precious Wilson. Eruption was a British band who had become very successful in Germany after being discovered by Boney M producer Frank Farian. By the time Kim joined the band they had already released a couple of albums and had achieved a number 5 UK chart hit – ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’.

Kim with Eruption in 1980

Kim with Eruption in 1980

Kim appeared on Eruption’s third album ‘Fight, Fight, Fight’ and on the single ‘Go Johnny Go’ which was a big chart hit in Germany in 1980. Tragedy struck the same year when Kim suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. Some reports state that Kim was killed in a car accident so it is possible that the haemorrhage was brought about by a head injury sustained in an accident.

There are several videos on Youtube featuring Eruption performing ‘Go Johnny Go’ but so far I haven’t found one with Kim as the vocalist. However the following Youtube performance of ‘One Way Ticket’ does feature footage (but not the voice) of Kim and claims to be a rare video of her: –

Here’s another video of Kim performing at the National Club Act Awards in 1976.

So there was no instant X Factor type stardom for Kim Davis. Her deserved success was a long time coming and Kim’s way involved a lot of hard work.

  1. ray t davies

    January 3, 2012 •

    Enjoyed the write up.
    As a performer myself and remebering that period.
    Ray

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  2. Rod Thomas

    January 3, 2012 •

    Really good. Have been trying to find out about Kim for some time (since I met her all those years ago) and it was nice of Mike Tulloch to get in touch, but to have this much information is great and it deserves to be out there for people to find. Thanks for the link. Rod

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  3. john starkey

    April 9, 2012 •

    Hi there, Just bought Mojo magazine for the Steve Marriot Small Faces article and CD. Noticed the names of a few people on the inside cover of the cd who I did not know. Kim D and the Del 5, The Marionettes and The Quotations. Thanks for the stuff on Kim D. You're dead on with the X Factor factor. Long gone are the days when a band or a singer chucked it all into the back of a clapped out van and did the 'club ride to fame! They gotta have it and they gotta have it now. Anyway cheers for that Rog Keep it going, John

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  4. Silvio

    April 21, 2012 •

    I was her companion from 1974 until end of 1981,year of her death, and I can conferm that she died of a brain haemorrhage. No one mentioned that she did a BBC TV programm called " One more time " late 1976 early 1977 , produced by Jimmy Stewart, after that she was offered to take Amy Stewart`s place, in the westend musical "Bubbling brown sugar" wich she accepted. Amy Stewart eventually left " Eruption" and Kim replaced her.

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  5. michael burgon

    June 26, 2012 •

    I was Kim's partner from 1969 - 1973 and travelled the world with her. Absolute star performer and star person and still to this day no female vocalist can touch her. She is sadly missed and my memories are still fresh with such a great artist. Thanks for remembering her early days.
    Always missed
    Michael

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  6. Michael Kane

    September 13, 2012 •

    Where may I buy "Real Thing" by Kim Davis, please?
    Thank you.
    Michael

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  7. Roger

    September 14, 2012 •

    The track is included on a 2 CD compilation entitled "This Is Mod" (2006 - Castle records). There's one currently for sale on ebay for £6.99. The track may be on other 60s/mod compilations.

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  8. jamie stuart

    October 16, 2012 •

    I have in my collection a live lp recorded in the sixties with no information on the sleeve or label, except the name Kim Davis. Does anyone know anything else about this record?

    Thanks,
    Jamie

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  9. Roger

    October 17, 2012 •

    Kim recorded a 'live' LP in 1968 at the Carousel Club in Chester-le-Street, County Durham under the name of 'Kim D and the Del 5'. There were 16 tracks including 'Puppet On A String', 'No Regrets', 'Big Spender, and 'Unchain My Heart'. The LP was recorded by Mortonsound from Newcastle upon Tyne. I understand, though, that the record was never commercially released so if this is the 'live lp' mentioned by Jamie it may be one of a few acetates produced just for the Kim and the band.

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  10. bill cook

    October 31, 2012 •

    What happened to her booking agent Colin Berlin after he left M.A.M. I heard he went into the hotel business?

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  11. Mike Nunn

    November 1, 2012 •

    Hi Really interesting to read about Kim as I had a track of her's called Feeling Blue which I thought was a terrific song, and yet I knew very little about this obvious talent.
    It would appear that luck did not go with that great voice and obvious star quality.

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  12. COLIN WOODLAND

    December 9, 2012 •

    Hi, I'm Colin Woodland. I was the lead guitarist in the Del five and Co-wrote and played on Feelin Blue with Bernie Watson on Keyboards.
    Still playing when asked.
    The X Factor comments about Kim are so true. She was a terrific live singer and had "IT" on stage. She did more TV including The Tom Jones Show and a local series at TTT. (I was there as her minder] but I can't find any details about these shows

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  13. Helen Walker

    February 10, 2013 •

    Have just watched Kim singing a medley of 'Once in a Lifetime' / 'Don't Rain on My Parade' on an episode of 'Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club' (Series 5) on Network DVD and found your article after searching for more info about her online. She was definitely an exceptional talent - was blown away by her performance and I'm really sorry to read that she died so young. Thanks for this tribute, much appreciated.

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  14. Danielle Donohue

    March 28, 2013 •

    I am her daughter. I did not know her but I miss her terribly. Can you all please tell me about her. not just about her as a performer but who she was as a person please.

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  15. COLIN WOODLAND

    April 6, 2013 •

    This link gets the TV Femaile Clubland Singer of the year. ENJOY
    Colin Woodland

    http://youtu.be/Ck1Gjv8Ffhg

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  16. Martin

    June 3, 2013 •

    Kicking around some old memories, clubs I visited, girls I dated back in the 70s. A name came up! Kim Davies, so I did a web search and sadly found this blog. I cannot believe she died so young - What a terrible loss! I saw her in a club in Manchester then a bit later on at a Hotel and Theme Park on the M6 in Lancashire. Can't remember the name. I was going out with a very sexy lady from St Annes near Blackpool. I remember she kept kissing me while Kim was performing. Kim suddenly stopped, pointed at us and said 'I can't compete with that, c'mon give me a chance!' She made everyone laugh, including me and my partner. Needless to say, we behaved after that and she continued with an amazing performance. I remember her for her warmth and sense of humour, but mostly for her huge talent. Maybe she never made it big, but she created memories that will last a lifetime. Certainly 40 years or so for me so far.
    My sincere condolences to Danielle - Your Mum was amazing and you can be very, very proud of her.
    Thank you for the memories Kim! xxx

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  17. Manuel Vázquez

    June 8, 2013 •

    Alguien sabe la fecha en la que murió Kim? La necesito para homenajearla en mi programa de radio "Panteón Musical"
    [Does anyone know the date that Kim died? I need to honour her on my radio programme "Panteón Musical"]

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  18. May Lye

    June 29, 2013 •

    Kim was in my class at school and I remember her singing for us. We all encouraged her to take this up as a profession which I see she did. Very shocked and sad to find out now that she died so young. She had a great sense of humour and was always smiling.

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  19. bill cook

    October 3, 2013 •

    Hi, Can anyone tell me what happened to Colin Berlin agent

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  20. Bryan Jeffrey

    December 3, 2013 •

    I was a close friend of pongo and one time had our own band I was the singer,when Kim asked to
    drive for her I did cause I thought she was brill a long story I learned loads from blog and I will come back note this though I have the record from the carousel club more info later I hope. P s A daughter was news toe but good news

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  21. COLIN WOODLAND

    January 24, 2014 •

    I BELIEVE KIM ALSO HAD A SON

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  22. Tom Zimmermann

    January 27, 2014 •

    @ Colin Woodland:

    I lived and worked with Kim during her last year (1980) in Hannover, Germany, when I was a stage technician for Eruption. We were planning a musical side project (I'm a singer/bass player). Yes, Kim has a son, Nicholas, with Silvio, her Swiss ex-partner.
    Kim passed during a visit in the UK. Her sudden death had a tremendous emotional impact on me, we loved each other very much. Her civil ('real') name was Vivian Anne Davidson.

    She will be missed.

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  23. COLIN WOODLAND

    January 28, 2014 •

    Thanks for that. When I listen to what's around today I realise just how good Kim was in both voice and stage presence.
    MISSED

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  24. Larry McCabe

    February 27, 2014 •

    Kim was a Beautiful girl, I met her when she sang at The Fiesta Club in Norton, Stockton on Tees, Danielle she told me about you and she really was a Very warm Loving Lady and you can be Very proud, I feel so sad to hear of her passing, I am pleased you asked about her,Big Hug Kim. Larry McCabe.

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  25. howard earnshaw

    March 10, 2014 •

    Hi Rog,
    I am editor of a small fanzine called Soul Up North, I would like to use your Kim Davis blog in a future issue of the mag.
    It would be nice to get your permission.
    I would of course give you full credit for the use of your blog.
    all the best, Howard

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  26. Danielle Simpson

    March 8, 2016 •

    Very interested to hear from Tom Zimmermann and Larry Mcabe regarding my muM. I am now married and called Danielle Simpson.

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  27. Ronald shakespeare

    September 12, 2017 •

    This the only place where I have found some music by Kim Davis. It is a great site for learning about the stars of the past. What I would like is some information about Village. I would like to get their album but cannot find it. I managed to find 2 songs but would like to hear more. Could you help me please thanks?

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  28. Larry McCabe.

    April 2, 2018 •

    Hi Danielle you can Friend me on Face Book if you want to, I am sitting on a bench my arms are resting on the table behind me and I have jeans and blue shirt on although I don't suppose there is many Larry McCabe's on there, Take care.

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