Brandon Davis was born in the city of Memphis, Tennessee.
He studied piano at Knoxville Technical High School, where he was the youngest member of his graduating class.
He graduated from Tennessee Tech with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music production.
Davis later moved to New York City and began recording with a band called the Bakersfield Boys.
In 1972, Davis formed his own band, the Baked Beans.
After performing at Madison Square Garden and other venues, the group signed with Mercury Records.
Davis was signed to Warner Bros. in 1974.
The band quickly broke into the Billboard Top 200, but it wasn’t until 1978 that they made a hit single: “I Am The Walrus.”
The single charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it set the stage for the band’s success.
Davis recorded the song on his own, but the band needed a producer and hired famed songwriter George Duke.
In 1979, Davis released his first album, Let’s Get Outta Here.
The album would go on to sell over 100 million copies worldwide.
It would be Davis’ biggest hit and helped catapult the band to the top of the pop charts.
The Baked Bean’s next big hit was “I’m Going Down,” a hit that would become the first single off their first album to sell more than 30 million copies.
The song also became a staple on the soundtrack to many films.
In 1982, Davis joined forces with the Black Panthers and formed the first major black political organization, the Panthers.
Davis continued to tour the country and perform throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
In the late 1990s, Davis also became an outspoken critic of America’s war on drugs and his activism gained him national attention.
He founded the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance and ran for president in 2000.
The two men’s relationship eventually soured, however, when the two men became embroiled in a bitter political feud over a new anti-war protest, which resulted in Davis and the Panthers being arrested and charged with inciting a riot.
The arrest, which ultimately cost Davis his job at Warner Bros., was one of several instances in which the duo faced criticism over their political views.
In 2008, Davis and his wife, Kathy, divorced.
They had two children together, Kendall Davis and Brittany Davis.
In 2015, he released his third album, In the Beginning, which he described as “an album that I feel has always been my life.”
He also announced plans to retire from the music industry.
Davis, who died of complications from pancreatic cancer on February 16, 2020, is best known for his work as a musician, the author and television host.
He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Kathy; two children, Kendall and Brittany; and his mother, Sharon Davis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.