Bassist Michael Davis of the highly influential band MC5 died on Friday (Feb. 17). He was 68 and passed away following a battle with liver disease. Davis played on all three of the group’s studio albums, including the legendary 1969 album ‘Kick Out the Jams.’
His wife, Angela Davis, told the Associated Press that Davis died Friday afternoon at the Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California after a month-long hospitalization for liver disease. Davis had been diagnosed in 2005 with Hepatitis C. In a candid personal blog chronicling the ensuing health battles, Davis attributed the disease to years of heavy alcohol and drug use.
Davis joined MC5 (short for ‘Motor City Five,’ after their Detroit homebase and the number of members in the band) in 1965. His death follows those of band mates Rob Tyner in 1991 and Fred Smith in 1994, leaving two surviving members of the MC5’s classic lineup, guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson.
“So long, old pal,” read a Facebook posting Sunday by Kramer.
MC5 broke up in 1972, but they are considered one of the earliest influences of the punk rock and metal movements.
After leaving the band in 1972, Davis eventually hooked up with the art-rock project Destroy All Monsters, with whom he played through the end of the decade.
Davis eventually remarried and played with a series of underground bands after moving to Arizona in the 1980s. He toured in the mid-’00s with Kramer and Thompson in what was billed as an MC5 reunion.
In recent years Davis had rekindled his interest in painting. He also formed the Music is Revolution Foundation to support musical education in public schools. His goal for the organization is stated clearly on its website: “This is not about making kids sit through music that means nothing to them. It is about helping them use music as a way to express whatever is in their souls. If we can give this to kids, then we are giving them, and society, a gift that is priceless.”