Steve “Stevie D” Davis was a friend of mine. He was friend to many, actually. I knew of Steve long before I ever met him. He was a member of the Glass Heroes here in Phoenix and in the early days of Hillbilly Devilspeak, we played a few shows together.
I wish I would have taken the opportunity to talk to him back then because he was one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I think of this missed opportunity often. I could have used Steve in my life many times during the almost twenty years I could have known him. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
I got to know Steve in 2017 when he was getting ready to play some bass for US Bombs. I’ve talked a little about my experience with this Slope project. I went over to apartment on 7th Avenue, just north of Indian School and introduced myself. I felt instantly comfortable. Steve had a way, and those of you reading this who knew him can attest to this, of putting you at ease when you were around him.
I think Steve liked things to be calm.
He was a punk rocker, but for all the right reasons. Recently I spoke with Steve’s friend Tim, and he mentioned that Steve understood what Joe Strummer understood about punk. Punk is not a calling or an excuse to be an asshole. The true calling of Punk, and yes, that’s the capital P punk, is noble. Steve Davis was a noble man.
So, Steve and I met and went over some bass lines and logistics for him to join the Bombs in San Bernadino. I was going to play the first few shows and then he was going to take over. I loved seeing all the art he had created in his apartment and liked his style. I specifically enjoyed that Steve just went for it with his art. Sure, it was influenced by Basquiat (in my opinion), but the world needs more of that (also my opinion). It wasn’t pretty or polished, but it was him. It was messy and good and said something.
Steve had a lot to say without it ever feeling like he was going to speak his mind regardless of if you wanted to hear it or not. He was not a man to offer unsolicited advice. If you asked Steve a question, though, he would answer you and answer thoughtfully. I cherish the conversations I had with him.
When Steve got to the venue in San Bernadino where we were playing, he had the biggest smile on his face. He was joining a small rock and roll tour and excited to be there. I was happy to be heading home and, to be honest, feeling a little guilty about having involved him in a situation I was starting to see a lot more clearly at that point, but when I talked with Steve a bit about how the first few days had gone, I could tell that he would be all right, no matter what.
We barely knew each other, and Steve treated me like we were old, trusted friends.
When they got back from the first jaunt, Steve and I caught up and he filled me on how it went. He was so happy. He left a fill-in bass player and came back a Bomb. I was happy for him and scared for him, but I knew, as I mentioned above, that he would be all right. I was happy that he would be another elder statesman on that bus who had a good outlook on life. I knew he would be good person for my friend, Brandon, who was playing guitar, to lean on if he needed a steady person. I also knew that he and Phil would be a solid rhythm section when they got some time to rehearse together.
Slope Records had a lot riding on the US Bombs, but knowing Steve was part of the mix made it a lot easier. Because of the band stuff, I got to see Steve more often and get to know him better. When he found out in 2018 that his liver condition became a situation where conversations about mortality and lifespan came into play, we talked about it early on. He sat across from me at a table at Copper Star Coffee on 7th Avenue where he liked to hold court and comforted me instead of it being the other way around.
It was clear that Steve wanted zero pity. He was appreciative of any help people gave him, but he did things on his own terms and didn’t expect anything from anyone other than respect. We put together a benefit show to help with some expenses at the Crescent in January of 2019 and the turnout was pretty amazing. Steve was clearly loved by a lot of people and his influence in Phoenix was bigger than I had initially thought.
He also played an inspired and fun set with his band, Stevie and the Sleaze. I really enjoyed seeing him looking death in the face and just letting it ride. The show was going to go on, for Steve, and I admired him greatly for it. I hope that if I ever in a similar position, I can use it the way Steve did to show people there is nothing in death to fear.
I worried about him on the road, of course. I worried that he would not get enough of the right kind of food or rest. One of the tours they went on after he got “the news” was through the east coast when it was bitterly cold. It was taking it’s toll him, for sure, but he soldiered on. As his first book came out, I was lucky enough to be able to get to talk with him about it for a New Times piece. I will always cherish that memory. Once again, he inspired me to be a better version of myself.
I loved Steve Davis. I’m proud to have been a friend of his and miss him. I can’t drive down 7th avenue between Camelback and Indian School without thinking of him and wishing I could pull into the small apartment complex he lived in and say hello.
See you tomorrow.
Don't know who took this picture but I love it and I'm stealing it. Miss you, buddy.
Listen to the Ramones today, friends.