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Dennis Davis

Dennis Davis
Born(1949-08-28)August 28, 1949
OriginNew York City
DiedApril 6, 2016(2016-04-06) (aged 66)
GenresR&B, soul, funk, rock, jazz
Instrumentsdrums, percussion
Associated actsDavid Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers, George Benson

Dennis Davis (August 28, 1949 – April 6, 2016) was an American drummer and session musician best known for his work with David Bowie.

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.[1] 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.[2] He met guitarist Carlos Alomar when they were both playing with Roy Ayers.[3] Davis was hired by David Bowie in 1974 for two tracks on Young Americans. Alomar, Davis and George Murray 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 influential on many later records. It was the result of early pitch shifting technology coupled with Davis's sensitive touch as a performer.[4] Davis was part of one Bowie's rhythm sections, "the D.A.M. Trio", which also included Carlos Alomar and George Murray.[5]

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.[6]

Davis died on April 6, 2016, of cancer.[7]

Davis’ youngest son Hikaru Davis made a series of interview videos from 2016-2019 speaking with musicians who knew his father.[8]

Davis’ son T-Bone Motta has been the drummer for Public Enemy since 2012.[9]

Selective discography

with Roy Ayers

  • Red, Black and Green (1973)
  • Coffy (1973)
  • Virgo Red (1973)
  • A Tear to a Smile (1975)
  • Vibrations (1976)
  • Step in to our Life (1978)
  • You Send Me (1978) - "Can't You See Me"
  • No Stranger to Love (1979)
  • I'm the One for your Love Tonight (1987)
  • Wake Up (1989)
  • Double Trouble (1992)
  • Good Vibrations (1993)
  • The Essential Groove - Live (1994)
  • Naste′ (1995)
  • Mahogany Vibe (2004)

with George Benson

with David Bowie

with Ronnie Foster

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"

with Garland Jeffreys

with Iggy Pop

with Smokey Robinson

with Stevie Wonder


  1. ^
  2. ^ Blackard, Cap (April 7, 2016). "R.I.P. Dennis Davis, longtime drummer of David Bowie, has died". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  3. ^ "Carlos Alomar Q&A". Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  4. ^ "Sound and Vision". Recordingology.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Features Stories". Modern Drummer Magazine. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  7. ^ "Dennis Davis, Longtime David Bowie Drummer, Dies". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  8. ^ "The HD Projects". Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  9. ^

External links

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