City Slang: Friends and colleagues remember Michael Davis
Some of late MC5 bassist Michael Davis’ former band mates and friends spoke out over the past couple of weeks about Davis’ tragic and untimely passing. Here are some highlights, released in a statement:
Wayne Kramer, the MC5′s guitarist, said that, “Michael and I experienced so much together over our nearly fifty years of friendship. We shared great adventures when we were young and even had a few when we grew up. Despite life’s twists and turns, and there were many, we maintained our connection. I loved him dearly and told him so the last time we spoke.”
Ted Nugent‘s band The Amboy Dukes tread the same territory, noted that, “The MC5 were such a powerful musical/spirit force to reckon with, and so very influential to all who witnessed their might, that it is a sad day when half of their incredible rhythm section is gone. Michael was a dedicated musician and a good man. In our Motor City musical wind, he will always be alive and kickin’ out the jams.”
“The MC5 really was a band, so everyone of the group members contributed — Michael as much as anyone else,” said Scott Morgan, who led The Rationals and also played rhythm guitar and sang in Fred “Sonic” Smith’s band Sonic’s Rendezvous Band (with Scott Asheton from Iggy & The Stooges on drums and bassist Gary Rasmussen from The Up / Uprising) and once lived at Davis’ house in Detroit. “He was a really solid bass player and a totally good guy.”
Destroy All Monsters frontwoman / lead singer Niagara says Davis was recruited for that band by the late Iggy & The Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton. Davis, according to Niagara, “was sly and funny, rock ‘n’ roll savvy and witty with lots of energy. A true Gemini….But like most musicians, he wasn’t really tough. It was a convenient pose, a test and a game. He was suave and charming, a drifter and a grifter. He was always gentlemanly to me.”
Niagara adds that Davis “used to put his amp on like 10 just for practice and band rehearsals. The guys made me tell him to turn down. He made them nervous.”
“Michael was a major force in shaping the sound and attitude of Detroit’s foremost band of the 1960s and beyond,” said former Alice Cooper guitarist / songwriter Dick Wagner, whose band Frost hailed from the same Detroit rock ‘n’ roll music scene. “The MC5 was a Detroit music leader and scene-maker, and Michael Davis played his role as foundational driving force as the band’s bass player. His place in rock history is firmly held.”
Iggy Pop, whose band The Stooges paired with the MC5 as the twin titans of the Michigan rock scene at that time, posted a simple “R.I.P. Brother” on his Facebook page.
Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, drummer for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Rockets, Alice Cooper, The Edgar Winter Group, Nils Lofgren and The Romantics, wrote “We had many good times on the road together. You were part of the Detroit Music Scene and all the World knows it. Much love. God bless you.”
The Romantics‘ guitarist / bassist Mike Skill addressed his Facebook note to the MC5 in general, noting that “you guys were a huge influence…I grew up with your music…Thank you.”
Davis is survived by his wife Angela Davis, their three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage. Funeral and memorial plans have not yet been announced.
For my own part, I’ll never forget how generous Davis was with his time during both the research and the promotion for my own MC5 book. I’m not promoting the book here, so I won’t mention the name. Please, feel free to not buy it. But I remember Davis coming on Craig Fahle’s WDET show with me to discuss the book, and these kind words he said for the second edition sleeve:
”When I was talking with Brett Callwood about my time in the MC5, it reminded me that when we were in the middle of creating whatever it was that we created, we became a circle of five that was really one. Nobody could penetrate that circle, not even the people that we lived with. Callwood does a great job of letting the reader into the circle for a look around.” – Michael Davis.
I miss you, sir.