Davis had been studying fine art at Wayne State University in Michigan when the Detroit-based MC5 recruited him in 1964. He promptly dropped out of art school to join the band. MC5 were soon taken under the wing of poet John Sinclair, whose affiliation with the radical-leftist anti-racist White Panther Party galvanized the band’s political energies. Kick Out the Jams, the first of the band’s three albums, was released by Elektra Records in 1969.
After MC5 split up in 1972, Davis went on to join the band Destroy All Monsters with Ron Asheton of the Stooges. He would later join MC5 again when they reunited for a tour in 2004. Davis also co-founded the non-profit Music is Revolution Foundation, which supports music education in public schools.
Davis died at the Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California after receiving a month-long treatment for liver disease. He is survived by his wife, Angela Davis, as well as three sons and a daughter.