MC5 Bassist Michael Davis Passes Away

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.

  • Davemachine

    Michael saved Iggy’s life. Ig O.D.’d and Mike through him in the bathtub to revive him.
    Sweetest guy in the world.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJSTNMFU2BPTAMMPJ6WDBCBV5Y T

       You’re exactly right. Both are/were great guys. Most of us junkies back in the day were really good people. I’ve heard it is a very ugly business now. I remember sitting in the mans house with a bunch of friends, and Iggy walks in and asks us if we wanted to go to Goose Lake. A few of us bought our blows for the weekend , and whatever else we had on hand and were gone. Such a different time it was. I think Mike would have thought the same. He’s OK now. Peaceful. Love ya’ Michael
      Thanks for sharing Dave.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJSTNMFU2BPTAMMPJ6WDBCBV5Y T

       T is the same guy as Yort4in11

  • Yort4in11

    As fucked up as it was, my best memories of Michael were shootin’ heroin at Sigrid’s house. Just talking shit and gettin hi. You will be missed by a lot of people from that crowd as well as many others. R I P Mike

  • Psychedelic Peacefarer

    the lesson I kept from reading about the MC5 is in the story of how early on, Rob Tyner and Fred Smith got to fighting about the direction the band was going to take, Smith had Tyner on the floor, said, “I could smash you,” and Tyner said, “Why don’t you then?”  The self-reflection proceeding from Smith’s disarming and deescalating is the sort of process this world needs now.  Movement politics cannot encompass this, it is a spiritual development within individuals.

  • Psychedelic Peacefarer

    the lesson I kept from reading about the MC5 is in the story of how early on, Rob Tyner and Fred Smith got to fighting about the direction the band was going to take, Smith had Tyner on the floor, said, “I could smash you,” and Tyner said, “Why don’t you then?”  The self-reflection proceeding from Smith’s disarming and deescalating is the sort of process this world needs now.  Movement politics cannot encompass this, it is a spiritual development within individuals.

  • Major Tom Live

    GREAT BAND . THANK YOU. R.I.P. – MAJOR TOM