Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a planned community housing the workforce of the Manhattan Project, where Bill Davis's father was employed. The village's institutionalized segregation relegated Davis's black family to the dirt roads and contaminated spring water of the Gamble Valley area. Davis had to practice with a guitar fashioned of stick and string, until a neighbor noticed Davis' talent and loaned him a Harmony. Alongside some neighborhood kids, Davis formed the Soul Dynamics, but a local hippie's peace, love, and drugs schtick influenced Davis to drop out of high school and light out for Minneapolis in 1968 with a Fender Strat. Davis' self-described "freedom of the soul" guitar style attracted Louis Sanders and Alex King, with whom he formed Three Days Ahead. In 1972, the group visited local bluesman and manager Walter Lewis' St. Paul basement studio, recording their only single. Following Alex King's murder at gunpoint, Three Days Ahead dissolved, as Davis continued his search for love, peace, and faith all the way to Denver.