Michael Davis, bassist for garage rock revolutionaries MC5, has passed away from liver failure at age 68. Davis had been hospitalized in Chico, CA for the last month battling liver disease. His wife, Angela Davis, announced his death on Saturday.
Although Davis was not actually the MC5’s original bass player, he replaced original bassist Pat Burrows early on in the band’s development, and played on all of the band’s albums. The politically charged and notoriously chaotic band only lasted for about eight years in their original incarnation, but their music has continued to influence multiple generations of musicians. In 1972, Davis was dismissed from the group due to substance abuse issues; the group disbanded not long after.
Davis spent some time in jail on a drug charge. Upon his release, he joined punk group Destroy All Monsters, playing with them for seven years. He also played with Blood Orange and Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios.
In 2003, the surviving members of MC5 — Davis, guitarist Wayne Kramer, and drummer Dennis Thompson — reunited, with various musicians taking on the role of vocalist. In 2004, they embarked upon a world tour playing under the name DKT/MC5. In 2005, their new lineup stabilized, with Handsome Dick Manitoba of New York punk band The Dictators handling lead vocal duties.
In 2006, following a motorcycle accident in which Davis injured his back, he and his wife founded the Music is Revolution Foundation, which supports music education programs in public schools. He also joined garage rock group The Lords of Altamont for a time, playing on their album ‘The Altamont Sin.’
In recent years, Davis also became a record producer, producing albums for bands such as Dollhouse, The Mothers Anger, OJM, and Tokyo Sex Destruction. He also rekindled his love of painting, returning to school to study art, with the intention of finishing his BA in fine arts. Between 2006 and 2011, Davis collaborated on several artistic projects, including a line of skateboard decks and t-shirts for Foundation Skateboards, and a limited line of MC5:OBEY merchandise, in conjunction with artist Shepard Fairey.
Davis is survived by his wife, their three sons, and a daughter from a previous marriage.