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Biography of Jonathan Davis
Throughout the music history, musicians have written songs that reflect a part of their lives, be it a part of their childhood or a love song. Through the artist s lyrics, audiences can relate on a more personal level to what the musician is feeling. For example, John Lennon and Eric Clapton have written songs that directly reflect their own lives. And, in more modern music, musicians have written lyrics about their childhood, relationships, and their mistakes. Yet another example of a man whose highly personal lyrics reflect his life is Jonathan Davis.
Jonathan Houseman Davis was born on January 18, 1971 in Bakersfield, California. He has a sister, Alyssa, a half-brother Mark, a half sister, and a stepsister. His mother was an actress and dancer, and his father, Rick Davis, was in a country band and later owned a music store, which first interested Jonathan in music. Jonathan spent most of his life growing up in Bakersfield where his brother Mark says, there s nothing to do but drugs, drinking, and sex (Circus Magazine April 22, 1999).
Davis parents got divorced when he was three. Later, both of them remarried. His stepmother was very abusive towards him. He claims that she hated his guts and would do everything she could to make his life a living hell. When Jon was sick she would feed him tea with tabasco sauce, she would make him drink it and say, You need to burn that cold out boy (Circus Magazine April 22, 1999). Jonathan hated her so much that he began fantasizing about killing her. As if his home life wasn t bad enough, with his dad always touring (and drunk when he was home), and an abusive step mom, Davis was tormented at school every day by his peers. The other kids called him a faggot just because he looked different and wasn t a jock. Anyone whose ever been picked on knows how much it hurts, and Jonathan later takes those years of torment and turns it into one of his songs called fagot (off his first self entitled album), which Newsweek called a call to arms for any kid who has ever mocked for being (or looking) gay in high school (Rick Marin, Newsweek. July 17, 1997).
At the age of sixteen while Davis was in high school, he took a class involving health, where they got to work in the health career of their choice. He originally wanted to work in respiratory therapy, but that was already taken, so instead he chose to be a coroner s assistant. He actually liked it so much that when he graduated high school, he enrolled in the San Francisco School of Mortuary Science, and worked as an undertaker at night. While he may have liked his job very much, it still had a negative effect on him. After seeing victims of car crashes, suicides, and sexual abuse-including people he had known or talked to the day before, he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and has nightmares to this day. There was an incident that would haunt Davis for years to come. A rape victim came into the coroner s office. She was an eleven-month-old baby girl who was sexually abused by her own father. Her legs were broken back behind her and the father just used her like a rag doll and chucked her in the bathroom. It was the most heinous thing I ve ever seen in my life and I still have nightmares about it , says John (Circus Magazine April 22, 1999).
Somewhere in between his late teenage years and early adulthood, Davis became addicted to the drug speed. He says that he spent about a year awake due to his addiction. Finally, everything caught up with him and he had to give up speed. Davis was very influenced by his favorite rock groups such as Duran Duran, and Depeche Mode. In 1990 Davis formed a band with his local highschool buddies were he was the lead singer in the band called Sex Art. The band never really noticed nor did it grow. It was in this band were he was spotted by Munky (Brian Welch) and Head (James Shaffer). They asked him to try out for their band, which was then called LAPD. Davis went and tried out. I didn t want to do it. I went to a psychic and she told me I was stupid if I didn t do it he says. And so, Korn was born with new additional member s bass player Fieldy (David Reggie Arvizu) and drummer David Silveria (friends of Jonathan) (Circus Magazine April 22, 1999).
Not too long after this new hard rock band was formed, Jon and the rest of the band began playing at the local club scenes which was not long before they were on tour playing 200 shows. It was in 1993 when the band came out with there first self entitled album. Korn’s first album went double platinum. From the hard, heart-pumping sounds of “Ball Tongue,” to the slow, devastatingly emotional “Daddy,” fans were mesmerized by the plethora of music and sentiments presented before them. Also featured in this album was Korn’s show-opening song “Blind,” the irreverent “Shoots and Ladders, the mind numbingly fast “Divine” and the universally appealing “Need To.” The whole album, in fact, was a metaphor for childhood, from the picture of a young girl on the cover, to the child’s writing on the inside of the booklet, and the mocking misspelling of “corn” with a K and a reversed R. It became readily apparent to fans that what Davis had to say was not the usual “Oh, my girlfriend left me…” insincere vocals projected by most bands. Instead, these were the true tales of a man whose life was ruined by past events. The emotional ties thus formed between Korn and their fans were total. Korn did not, however, let this early success go to their heads, realizing that fans are the livelihood of a band. They continued touring, steadily earning a name in the underground rock scene (Circus Magazine April 22, 1999).
In 1996, Korn ventured out with their second double platinum outing, Life is Peachy, which showed no signs of faltering quality. (From the insanely bizarre “Twist” to the groovy “Good God.”) Korn had not failed in their mission to bring their fans great music to enjoy, surpassing their original level of quality.
1998 was a very busy year for Korn. Davis married his girlfriend of eight years, Renee Perez. She is the mother of his son Nathan Houseman Davis. But apparently, fidelity isn t something Davis understands really well, and by the time of July 1999 rolled around the two were separated. While spending time perfecting their third album Follow The Leader, Korn also worked on several other projects, including their own rock festival, The Family Values Tour, their own record label, Elementree Records, and a weekly Internet program called Korn TV. In making Follow the Leader, Korn took their time to ensure that this album would benefit from the success of both previous albums. The album reached triple platinum status, the single “Got The Life” continuously played on the radio, while the “Freak on a Leash” music video went on to win two awards at the 1999 MTV Music Video Awards. The men from Korn had accomplished the journey from anonymity to megastardom, and while some bands might have felt the urge to give in and “sell out”. Korn maintained their integrity, both moral and musical, and in 1999, were ready to unleash their biggest album yet to an ocean of thirsty fans.
Korn’s fourth album Issues is an album that is hard, heavy, and dark from flesh to bone. Although the critics lambast the lead singer Jonathon Davis for being obsessed with the “issues” of his traumatic childhood, one can not deny the fact that he is pretty good at expressing his own uncontrollable rage. On Korn’s previous album “Follow the Leader, Davis switched back and forth from singing in predictable hardcore howl and rapping aggressively. In a genre that has become incredibly predictable with its rap metal and aggressive nonsense vocals, Korn has created an album that shows their courage and willingness to challenge themselves as artists. I wouldn’t be suprised if Jonathon Davis never stopped singing about his childhood abuse, but as long as he continues to use his voice as an instrument of anger and desperation it doesn’t seem like he will run of out energy anytime soon.
Jonathan Houseman Davis life hasn t been easy. Parts of it have been downright miserable. But he s survived. Through his lyrics he s helped himself deal with his problems and helped his fans deal with some of their own as well. He writes from the heart and sings from his soul. That s hard to come by.
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