He had spent his youth in the 1960s and early 1970s in punk rock band the MC5. However, others know him for his work in delivering music education in public schools in the US during his later years.
The bassist played with the MC5 on the band’s three albums after their original bassist quit. They were perhaps best-known for their 1969 debut Kick Out the Jams and the single Motor City is Burning.
Davis played with the band until 1972 when he suffered from drug problems, but reformed as DKT/MC5 with the band’s surviving members in 2003.
However, following a motorcycle crash in 2006, he launched a charity called The Music is Revolution Foundation with his wife Angela.
It aims to fund and supply materials for teachers to improve music education programmes in schools in the US. While maintaining the curriculum, it makes students aware of genres not normally heard among day-to-day.
In addition, the charity runs fundraising events, awareness campaigns and musical instrument drives to supply equipment to poorer schools.
Speaking on the charity’s website before his death, Davis saw music education as a way to revolutionise young people and that by being able to play in an ensemble, young people would be enriched by the process.
“In the late 60s, my band, the MC5, adopted a stance that challenged the status quo of our social system. Now, as it was then, real issues can only be dealt with by the next generation. They are our greatest resource and our most important allies,” he wrote.
“Is it possible that we can shape the destiny of society by offering our children better access to the thing we have treasured all of our lives; our music?”
With the help of professional musicians, the charity particularly aims to reach out to non-traditional students who either struggle to fit in or who are at-risk, to inspire and engage them with music.
Check out Davis performing Kick Out The Jams with the MC5 in the video below.
Are you a fan of the MC5? Were you aware of Davis’ work in later life?