Dennis Davis (August 28, 1949 – April 6, 2016) was an American drummer and session musician best known for his work with David Bowie, and is considered as having one of the most influential drum sounds of the second half of the 20th Century.
|Born||August 28, 1949|
|Origin||New York City|
|Died||April 6, 2016(aged 66)|
|Genres||R&B, soul, funk, rock, jazz|
|Associated acts||David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers, George Benson|
He was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City and studied with drummers Max Roach and Elvin Jones before joining the Clark Terry Big Band in 1967. He joined the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Rowan (DD-782) from 1969 to 1970 during the Vietnam War. He was discharged from the U.S Navy in 1970 in San Diego, California. He was wounded during his military service, but was able to hone his skills when he performed as part of the US Navy's Drum and Bugle Corps. He met guitarist Carlos Alomar when they were both playing with Roy Ayers. Davis was hired by David Bowie in 1974 with Alomar and bassist George Murray for Young Americans. Davis formed the rhythm section which performed on a number of Bowie's albums released in the 1970s. The snare sound used on Bowie's Low album is considered one of the most influential musical recording aspects in popular music. The innovative snare sound was the result of early pitch shifting technology coupled with Davis's sensitive touch as a performer. Davis was part of what is considered Bowie's greatest rhythm section, "the D.A.M. Trio", which also included Carlos Alomar and George Murray.
Davis subsequently became the drummer for Stevie Wonder and in the early 2000s, he played percussion on David Bowie's live tours, including Bowie's last tour, A Reality Tour, in 2003. The drummer for that band was Sterling Campbell, who was previously a student of Davis.
Davis died on April 6, 2016, from cancer.
Davis’ youngest son Hikaru Davis made a series of interview videos from 2016-2019 speaking with musicians who knew his father.
With Roy Ayers
- Red, Black and Green (1973)
- Coffy (1973)
- Virgo Red (1973)
- A Tear to a Smile (1975)
- You Send Me (1978)
- I'm the One for your Love Tonight (1987)
- Double Trouble (1992)
- Good Vibrations (1993)
- Naste′ (1995)
- Mahogany Vibe (2004)
With George Benson
- Good King Bad (CTI, 1975)
With David Bowie
- Young Americans (1975)
- Station to Station (1976)
- Low (1977)
- "Heroes" (1977)
- Stage (1978)
- Lodger (1979)
- Scary Monsters (1980)
With Ronnie Foster
- Cheshire Cat (1975)
with Iggy Pop
- The Idiot (RCA, 1977)
With Stevie Wonder
- Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants (Motown, 1979) – "A Seed's a Star/Tree Medley"
- Hotter Than July (Motown, 1980) – "Did I Hear You Say You Love Me," "As If You Read My Mind", "Master Blaster (Jammin')"
- Original Musiquarium (Motown, 1982) – "Do I Do"
- Characters (Motown, 1987) – "Free" With Jephté Guillaume & The Tet Kale Orkestra
With Jermaine Jackson
- Let's Get Serious (Motown, 1980) – "Let's Get Serious," "Where Are You Now," "You're Supposed to Keep Your Love for Me"
- Blackard, Cap (April 7, 2016). "R.I.P. Dennis Davis, longtime drummer of David Bowie, has died". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- "Carlos Alomar Q&A". Teenagewildlife.com. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Sound and Vision". Recordingology.
- "Features Stories". Modern Drummer Magazine. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- "Dennis Davis, Longtime David Bowie Drummer, Dies". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- "The HD Projects". Retrieved March 25, 2019.