Sad news for garage-rock fans: Michael Davis, bass player with pioneering and hugely influential 60s-era Detroit rock combo the MC5 has died at 68.
Citing the Associated Press, a report in Britain’s NME says Davis died Friday (February 17) at the Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California after a month-long battle with liver disease.
Born in 1943, Davis joined MC5 in 1964 (or ’65, depending on which source you reference), replacing the band's original bass player Pat Burrows; he remained with the group until 1972.
Davis played on each of the band's three classic albums, including 1969’s Kick Out The Jams, 1970′s Back in the USA and 1971′s High Time along with vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith (late husband of singer/songwriter Patti Smith) and drummer Dennis Thompson.
He also took part in two short-lived reunions with MC5, first in 2003 and then again in 2005.
Ultimate Classic Rock notes that Davis helped solidify the classic lineup of MC5 - short for “Motor City Five” after their Detroit hometown and the number of musicians in the band. The group quickly won over live crowds with their scorching blend of unhinged garage and psychedelic rock. Their duds were pretty righteous, too.
The band’s popularity faded to the point that they broke up in 1972, but over time the influence of their music grew and they are now considered one of the earliest influences of the punk rock movement. Like the Velvet Underground, the true measure of the MC5’s power can be seen decades after the band’s salad days.
Davis also worked as a producer and was behind the controls for records by the likes of Lords of Altamont, Dollhouse, Tokyo Sex Destruction, and OJM.
In his later years, Davis co-founded the Music Is Revolution Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting music education in schools, according to the NME. Davis is survived by his wife, their three sons, and a daughter from a previous marriage.