Dennis Davis, longtime drummer of David Bowie, has died following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Davis drummed on Bowie’s albums throughout the 1970s and 80s, including Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, “Heroes”, Lodger, and Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). In total, he played on seven of Bowie’s records, and joined him on the road throughout the ’70s and once more in the early 2000s. Other artists Davis worked with include Iggy Pop (The Idiot), Jemaine Jackson (Let’s Get Serious), and Stevie Wonder (Hotter Than July, Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, Original Musiquarium, and Characters).
Born in Manhattan, Davis studied under Max Roach and Elvin Jones before joining the Clark Terry Big Band in 1967. During his tour in the Vietnam War, he performed as part of the US Navy’s Drum and Bugle Corps before returning to the states and joining Roy Ayers’ band.
Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime producer, said in a statement:
“Dennis Davis has passed away. He was one of the most creative drummers I have ever worked with. He came into David Bowie’s life when we recorded some extra tracks for Young Americans and stayed with us through Scary Monsters and beyond. He was a disciplined jazz drummer who tore into Rock with a Jazz sensibility. Listen to the drum breaks on Black Out from the Heroes album. He had a conga drum as part of his set up and he made it sound like two musicians were playing drums and congas. By Scary Monsters he was playing parts that were unthinkable but they fit in so perfectly. His sense of humor was wonderful. As an ex member of the US Air Force he told us stories of seeing a crashed UFO first hand by accidentally walking through an unauthorized hanger. There will never be another drummer, human being and friend like Dennis, a magical man.”