Skip to main content

David Bowie drummer Dennis Davis dead after cancer battle

Dennis Davis with David Bowie
Dennis Davis with David Bowie (Image credit: Tony Visconti)

David Bowie’s former drummer Dennis Davis has died after a battle with cancer.

His passing was confirmed by Bowie producer Tony Visconti in a Facebook post in which he describes the sticksman as “a magical man.”

Visconti adds: “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.”

Davis also worked with Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Roy Ayers and Ronnie Foster and he served as a member of the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. An injury allowed him to spend time with the Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps.

Davis was born and raised in Manhattan and learned his trade with jazz players Max Roach and Elvin Jones before getting his break with the Clark Terry Big Band in 1967.

Visconti adds: “His sense of humour 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 unauthorised hanger.

“There will never be another drummer, human being and friend like Dennis, a magical man.”

Bowie died in January at the age of 69 after his own cancer battle.

Stef wrote close to 5000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind in late 2016 and has since moved to his beloved Canada.