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Sentenced To Life: Phoenix Punks Come Together to Help One of Their Own

Steve "Stevie D" Davis rocking out on his prize bass at a U.S. Bombs show in 2018.
Steve "Stevie D" Davis rocking out on his prize bass at a U.S. Bombs show in 2018. Cat Ashbee

click to enlarge Steve "Stevie D" Davis rocking out on his prize bass at a U.S. Bombs show in 2018. - CAT ASHBEE
Steve "Stevie D" Davis rocking out on his prize bass at a U.S. Bombs show in 2018.
Cat Ashbee

People occasionally still band together for a good cause and Wednesday, December 19, at Crescent Ballroom will be no different. Longtime Phoenix musician and artist Steve “Stevie D” Davis was recently diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. This is, as you probably can tell, not good, and as friends are often wont to do, some of Davis’ decided to do something about to help.

Multiple bands including Davis’ current band, U.S. Bombs, will perform across an evening that will also include a silent auction, and a portion of all food proceeds will be donated to allaying the costs of Davis’ considerable health-care challenges. In addition to the Bombs, The Freeze, Glass Heroes, The Faded Pictures, French Girls, and several other area bands will perform in honor of their friend.

Davis, 62, has been a member of the punk rock community in Phoenix since the very beginning. He got his first bass before quite a few fans of his current, and most well-known band, were probably even born. The battle scars on his beat-up 1963 Fender P-Bass serve as a testament to his love of playing music. Davis likes to talk about how he get the bass in 1977, which was right around the time he got the disease that will ultimately end his life, hepatitis C.

“I started fixing in ’77,” he says of his heroin use. “My habit lasted for 21 years. This is the first time that I’ve been clean that I’m not homeless or locked up. That’s how it always ends up for me ... except this time.”

Like many people who contract hep C, Davis caught the disease through IV drug use, and for about 1 to 5 percent of hep C sufferers, liver cancer is their eventual end. Despite struggling with addiction, music was always more important to Davis. To that end, no matter how many times he sold, pawned, or traded that beat-up Fender P-Bass, he always retrieved it, and now, using that same axe, music will help him keep fighting to live.
“I had the bass in clinics with me or a hospital,” he recalls. “One time, I went to get it outta the case and it was gone. My girlfriend (at the time) pawned it.”

Davis, who is slightly built and usually seen sporting a sort of shaggy, spiky, bleached-blond look popular in the ’70s, is open to talking about the checkered past and the choices that brought him to where he is now, he doesn’t dwell on them. One could say he’s incredibly upbeat about what he currently faces. There is an almost zen-like calm to Davis as he rattles off the daily routine he now goes through to remain alive: numerous doctor appointments; a regimen of preparing and eating wholesome, natural foods; and most importantly, a team of people who have assembled to help their beloved “Stevie D” — including his son, Aries, who is now in his 20s.

“I had decided to start dropping slowly on the methadone,” he says. “I did that because, I thought that if I ever wanna be a part of my son’s life, I need to get off the shit. After a couple years of decreases, I grew weary of it all.”

To say Davis lives a spartan lifestyle is an understatement. He rents a small apartment in the Melrose District that also serves as de facto studio and art gallery for his numerous paintings. His style exudes a certain punk vibe, and those who dig a simple, graffiti-esque approach to painting and colorful musings on the world may enjoy them. Like Davis himself, his art is not pretentious in any definition of the word, but you can’t help but feel you know the man a little better when you see them, or when you watch him paint.

Above all else, Davis just a good dude, and because of this, the music community in Phoenix has come to his aid. He has a GoFundMe account that grows a little bit each day, and Davis is grateful for every bit of help that has come his way.

Cancer can be a scary thing. But Stevie D doesn’t see his diagnosis as a death sentence. If anything, it’s a license to live.

Love Bomb: A Benefit for Steven Davis. With The Steve Davis Band, The Freeze, French Girls, The Faded Pictures, and more. 6 p.m. Wednesday, December 19, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North 2nd Avenue; crescentphx.com. Tickets are $10 via Ticketfly.
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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon