His death was reported by his wife, Angela Davis, who said he had been fighting the disease for almost a month at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, CA.
Davis was a multi-talented artist adept at music and the arts. He was brought into MC5 when Rob Tyner and Wayne Kramer decided to replace original bassist Pat Burrows. Over the next five years, the group established themselves as one of the most innovative groups, combining garage, hard and psychedelic rock along with free-form jazz into a style that foreshadowed the punk movement of the 70's.
Their first album, Kick Out the Jams, was actually recorded live as Elektra executives felt that the group's sound was best heard in front of an audience. The raw performance highlighted the groups devotion to extreme left-wing values and organizations and, although it received mixed reviews, history has shown it to be one of the most influential live albums in rock history.
MC5's second album, Back in the USA, showed a different side of the group and set the template for future punk rock groups with short, angry, fast tracks. Their third album, High Time, was well received but sold poorly and, after a stunt where the band insulted a department store chain that wouldn't stock their albums, they were dropped from Elektra.
Davis had become heavily involved with heroin and was dropped from the band in February 1972. He went on to spend seven years with Destroy All Monsters and, later Blood Orange and Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios.
In 2003, Davis reunited with Kramer and Dennis Thompson of the MC5 to reform the group for a one-off performance. The appearance was so successful that they went on to a 200-date world tour.
Davis was also involved in other areas of the arts, including starting The Music is Revolution Foundation to support music education in public schools, producing albums for such groups as The Lords of Altamont and a life-long involvement with art.
Davis is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter from an earlier marriage