|Height:||168 cm (5' 7'')|
|Birth Day:||May 26, 1926|
|Death Date:||Sep 28, 1991 (age 65)|
|Birth Place:||Alton, United States|
|Height:||168 cm (5' 7'')|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Miles Davis died on Sep 28, 1991 (age 65).
He claimed that he was slapped on his knuckles by his instructor Elwood Buchanan whenever he played with vibrato. He was heavily influenced by Clark Terry during his formative years.
Miles Dewey Davis III was born on May 26, 1926, to an affluent African-American family in Alton, Illinois, 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of St. Louis. He had an older sister, Dorothy Mae (born 1925), and a younger brother, Vernon (born 1929). His mother, Cleota Mae Henry of Arkansas, was a music teacher and violinist, and his father, Miles Dewey Davis Jr., also of Arkansas, was a dentist. They owned a 200-acre (81 ha) estate near Pine Bluff, Arkansas with a profitable pig farm. In Pine Bluff, he and his siblings fished, hunted, and rode horses. Davis' grandparents were the owners of an Arkansas farm where he would spend many summers.
In 1927, the family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. They lived on the second floor of a commercial building behind a dental office in a predominantly white neighbourhood. Davis' father would soon become distant to his children as the Great Depression caused him to become increasingly consumed by his job; typically working six days a week. From 1932 to 1934, Davis attended John Robinson Elementary School, an all-black school, then Crispus Attucks, where he performed well in mathematics, music, and sports. Davis had previously attended Catholic school; per his religious upbringing. At an early age he liked music, especially blues, big bands, and gospel.
In 1935, Davis received his first trumpet as a gift from John Eubanks, a friend of his father. He took lessons from "the biggest influence on my life," Elwood Buchanan, a teacher and musician who was a patient of his father. His mother wanted him to play the violin instead. Against the fashion of the time, Buchanan stressed the importance of playing without vibrato and encouraged him to use a clear, mid-range tone. Davis said that whenever he started playing with heavy vibrato, Buchanan slapped his knuckles. In later years Davis said, "I prefer a round sound with no attitude in it, like a round voice with not too much tremolo and not too much bass. Just right in the middle. If I can't get that sound I can't play anything." The family soon moved to 1701 Kansas Avenue in East St. Louis.
In 1941, the 15-year-old attended East St. Louis Lincoln High School, where he joined the marching band directed by Buchanan and entered music competitions. Years later, Davis said that he was discriminated against in these competitions due to his race, but he added that these experiences made him a better musician. When a drummer asked him to play a certain passage of music, and he couldn't do it, he began to learn music theory. "I went and got everything, every book I could get to learn about theory." At Lincoln, Davis met his first girlfriend, Irene Birth (later Cawthon). He had a band that performed at the Elks Club. Part of his earnings paid for his sister's education at Fisk University. Davis befriended trumpeter Clark Terry, who suggested he play without vibrato, and performed with him for several years.
With encouragement from his teacher and girlfriend, Davis filled a vacant spot in the Rhumboogie Orchestra, also known as the Blue Devils, led by Eddie Randle. He became the band's musical director, which involved hiring musicians and scheduling rehearsal. Years later, Davis considered this job one of the most important of his career. Sonny Stitt tried to persuade him to join the Tiny Bradshaw band, which was passing through town, but his mother insisted he finish high school before going on tour. He said later, "I didn't talk to her for two weeks. And I didn't go with the band either." In January 1944, Davis finished high school and graduated in absentia in June. During the next month, his girlfriend gave birth to a daughter, Cheryl.
In July 1944, Billy Eckstine visited St. Louis with a band that included Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. Trumpeter Buddy Anderson was too sick to perform, so Davis was invited to join. He played with the band for two weeks at Club Riviera. After playing with these musicians, he was certain he should move to New York City, "where the action was". His mother wanted him to go to Fisk University, like his sister, and study piano or violin. Davis had other interests.
In September 1944, Davis accepted his father's idea of studying at the Institute of Musical Arts, later known as the Juilliard School, in New York City. After passing the audition, he attended classes in music theory, piano and dictation. Although Davis would frequently skip said classes.
He began performing at clubs on 52nd Street with Coleman Hawkins and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. He recorded for the first time on April 24, 1945 when he entered the studio as a sideman for Herbie Fields's band. During the next year, he recorded as a leader for the first time with the Miles Davis Sextet plus Earl Coleman and Ann Hathaway, one of the few times he accompanied a singer.
In 1945, he replaced Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker's quintet. On November 26, Davis participated in several recording sessions as part of Parker's group Reboppers that also involved Gillespie and Max Roach, displaying hints of the style he would become known for. In Parker's tune "Now's the Time", Davis played a solo that anticipated cool jazz. He then joined a big band led by Benny Carter, performing in St. Louis and remaining with the band in California. He again played with Parker and Gillespie. In Los Angeles, Parker had a nervous breakdown that put him in the hospital for several months. In March 1946, Davis played in studio sessions with Parker and began a collaboration with bassist Charles Mingus that summer. Cawthon gave birth to Davis's second child, Gregory, in East St. Louis before reuniting with Davis in New York City the following year. Davis noted that by this time, "I was still so much into the music that I was even ignoring Irene." He had also turned to alcohol and cocaine.
He was a member of Billy Eckstine's big band in 1946 and Gillespie's in 1947. He joined a quintet led by Parker that also included Max Roach. Together they performed live with Duke Jordan and Tommy Potter for much of the year, including several studio sessions. In one session that May, Davis wrote the tune "Cheryl", named after his daughter. Davis's first session as a leader followed in August 1947, playing as the Miles Davis All Stars that included Parker, pianist John Lewis, and bassist Nelson Boyd; they recorded "Milestones", "Half Nelson", and "Sippin' at Bells". After touring Chicago and Detroit with Parker's quintet, Davis returned to New York City in March 1948 and joined the Jazz at the Philharmonic tour, which included a stop in St. Louis on April 30.
In August 1948, Davis declined an offer to join Duke Ellington's orchestra as he had entered rehearsals with a nine-piece band with pianist and arranger Gil Evans and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, taking an active role on what soon became his own project. Evans' Manhattan apartment had become the meeting place for several young musicians and composers such as Davis, Roach, Lewis, and Mulligan who were unhappy with the increasingly virtuoso instrumental techniques that dominated bebop. These gatherings led to the formation of the Miles Davis Nonet, which included the unusual additions of French horn and tuba; leading to a thickly textured orchestral sound. The intent was to imitate the human voice through carefully arranged compositions and a relaxed, melodic approach to improvisation. In September, the band completed their sole engagement as the opening band for Count Basie at the Royal Roost for two weeks. Davis had to persuade the venue's manager to write the sign "Miles Davis Nonet. Arrangements by Gil Evans, John Lewis and Gerry Mulligan". He prevailed only with the help of Monte Kay, the club's artistic director. Davis returned to Parker's quintet, but relationships within the quintet were growing tense mainly due to Parker's erratic behavior caused by his drug addiction. Early in his time with Parker, Davis abstained from drugs, ate a vegetarian diet, and spoke of the benefits of water and juice. Davis and Roach objected to the addition of pianist Duke Jordan, preferring Bud Powell.
In December 1948 Davis quit, claiming he was not being paid. His departure began a period when he worked mainly as a freelancer and sideman. His nonet remained active until the end of 1949. After signing a contract with Capitol Records, they recorded sessions in January and April 1949, which sold little but influenced the "cool" or "west coast" style of jazz. The line-up changed throughout the year and included the additions of tuba player Bill Barber, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who had been preferred to Sonny Stitt as his style was considered too bop-oriented, pianist Al Haig, trombone players Mike Zwerin with Kai Winding, French horn players Junior Collins with Sandy Siegelstein and Gunther Schuller, and bassists Al McKibbon and Joe Shulman. One track featured singer Kenny Hagood. The presence of white musicians in the group angered some black players, many of whom were unemployed at the time, yet Davis rebuffed their criticisms. Recording sessions with the nonet for Capitol continued until April 1950. The Nonet recorded in total a dozen tracks which were released as singles and subsequently compiled on Birth of the Cool (1957).
In May 1949, Davis performed with the Tadd Dameron Quintet with Kenny Clarke and James Moody at the Paris International Jazz Festival. On his first trip abroad Davis took a strong liking for Paris and its cultural environment, where he felt black jazz musicians and people of color in general were better respected than in America. The trip, he said, "changed the way I looked at things forever". He began an affair with singer and actress Juliette Gréco.
After returning from Paris in mid-1949, he became depressed and found little work, which included a short engagement with Powell in October and guest spots in New York City, Chicago, and Detroit until January 1950. He was falling behind in hotel rent and attempts were made to repossess his car. His heroin use became an expensive addiction, and Davis, yet to reach 24 years old, "lost my sense of discipline, lost my sense of control over my life, and started to drift". In August 1950, during a family trip to East St. Louis and Chicago in an attempt to improve their fortunes, Cawthon gave birth to Davis's second son, Miles IV. Davis befriended boxer Johnny Bratton and began his interest in the sport. Davis left Cawthon and his three children in New York City in the hands of a friend, jazz singer Betty Carter. He remained grateful to her for the rest of his life. He toured with Eckstine and Billie Holiday and was arrested for heroin possession in Los Angeles. The story was reported in DownBeat magazine, which caused a further reduction in work, though he was acquitted weeks later. By the 1950s Davis had become a more skilled player and was experimenting with the middle register of the trumpert alongside harmonies and rhythms.
In January 1951, Davis's fortunes improved when he signed a one-year contract with Prestige after owner Bob Weinstock became a fan of the nonet Davis chose Lewis, trombonist Bennie Green, bassist Percy Heath, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and drummer Roy Haynes; they recorded what became part of Miles Davis and Horns (1956). Davis was hired for other studio dates in March, June, and September 1951 and started transcribing scores for record labels to fund his heroin addiction. During the next month, he recorded his second session for Prestige as band leader. The material was released on The New Sounds (1951), Dig (1956), and Conception (1956).
Davis supported his heroin habit by playing music and by living the life of a hustler, exploiting prostitutes, and receiving money from friends. By 1953, his addiction began to impair his playing. His drug habit became public in a Down Beat interview with Cab Calloway, whom he never forgave as it brought him "all pain and suffering". He returned to St. Louis and stayed with his father for several months. Though he continued to use heroin, he met Roach and Mingus in September 1953 on their way to Los Angeles and joined their band, but the trip caused problems. He returned to his father's home, "determined to kick my habit ... that was the only thing on my mind." He locked himself inside the guest house "for about seven or eight days" until he had gone through withdrawal. After the ordeal, he "sat down and started thinking about how I was going to get my life back together".
In February 1954 Davis returned to New York City, feeling good "for the first time in a long time," mentally and physically stronger, and joined a gym. He informed Weinstock and management at Blue Note that he was ready to record with a quintet, which he was granted. He considered the resulting albums Miles Davis Quartet (1954) and Miles Davis Volume 2 (1956) "very important" because he felt his performances were particularly strong. He was paid roughly $750 (US$7,140 in 2019 dollars) for each album and refused to give away his publishing rights.
Davis gained a reputation for being cold, distant—and easily angered. He wrote that in 1954 Sugar Ray Robinson "was the most important thing in my life besides music" and adopted Robinson's "arrogant attitude". He showed contempt for critics and the press. There were well-publicized confrontations with the public and with other musicians. An argument with Thelonious Monk during the recording of Bags' Groove was reported. In mid-1954, Davis reunited with Gréco for the first time since 1949 after she arrived in New York City for film prospects. The two had been in occasional contact since he left Paris. Davis being too busy to move to Spain with her, they've agreed to get together the next time he comes to France.
Davis abandoned the bebop style and turned to the music of pianist Ahmad Jamal, whose approach and use of space influenced him. When he returned to the studio in June 1955 to record Miles Davis Quartet, he wanted a pianist like Jamal and picked Red Garland. Blue Haze (1956), Bags' Groove (1957), Walkin' (1957), and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (1959) were recorded after his recovery from heroin addiction. They documented the evolution of his sound with the Harmon mute, also known as a wah-wah mute, placed close to the microphone, and the use of more spacious and relaxed phrasing. He assumed a central role in hard bop, which was slower than bebop, less radical in harmony and melody, and often used popular songs and American standards as starting points for improvisation. Hard bop distanced itself from cool jazz with a harder beat and music inspired by the blues. A few critics consider Walkin' (April 1954) the album that created the hard bop genre.
Davis had an operation to remove polyps from his larynx in October 1955. The doctors told him to remain silent after the operation—but he got into an argument that permanently damaged his vocal cords and gave him a raspy voice for the rest of his life. He was called the "prince of darkness", adding a patina of mystery to his public persona.
In July 1955, Davis's fortunes improved considerably when he was invited to the second annual Newport Jazz Festival on July 17, with a line-up of Monk, Heath, drummer Connie Kay, and horn players Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan. He convinced organizer George Wein, a fan of Davis' work, that he should be on the bill, to which Wein agreed. The performance was praised by critics and audiences alike who considered it to be a highlight of the session as well as helping Davis, the least well known musician in the group, to increase his popularity among affluent white audiences. He tied with Dizzy Gillespie for best trumpeter in the 1955 Down Beat magazine Readers' Poll.
At the request of Avakian, he formed the Miles Davis Quintet for a performance at Café Bohemia. The quintet consisted of Davis on trumpet, Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on double bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Rollins was replaced by John Coltrane, completing the membership of the first quintet. This group appeared on his final albums for Prestige: Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (1957), Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (1958), Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (1960), and Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (1961). The music on all four albums was recorded in two one-day sessions in 1956 with Rudy Van Gelder. Each album helped establish Davis's quintet as one of the best.
In 1956, he left his quintet temporarily to tour Europe as part of the Birdland All-Stars, which included the Modern Jazz Quartet and French and German musicians. In Paris, he reunited with Gréco and they "remained lovers for many years". He then returned home, reunited his quintet and toured the US for two months. Conflict arose on tour as he grew impatient with the drug habits of Jones and Coltrane. Davis was trying to live a healthier life by exercising and reducing his alcohol. But he continued to use cocaine. At the end of the tour, he fired Jones and Coltrane and replaced them with Sonny Rollins and Art Taylor.
In November 1957, Davis went to Paris and recorded the soundtrack to Ascenseur pour l'échafaud directed by Louis Malle (1958). Consisting of French session musicians Barney Wilen, Pierre Michelot, and René Urtreger, and American drummer Kenny Clarke, the group avoided a written score and instead improvised while they watched the film in a recording studio.
By early 1957, Davis was exhausted from recording and touring with his quintet and wished to pursue new projects. During a two-week residency in Chicago in March, the 30-year-old Davis told journalists of his intention to retire at its conclusion and revealed offers he had received to become a teacher at Harvard University and a musical director at a record label. Avakian agreed that it was time for Davis to explore something different, but Davis rejected his suggestion of returning to his nonet as he considered that a step backward. Avakian then suggested that he work with a bigger ensemble, similar to Music for Brass (1957), an album of orchestral and brass-arranged music led by Gunther Schuller featuring Davis as a guest soloist.
Davis and his sextet toured to support Kind of Blue. He persuaded Coltrane to play with the group on one final European tour in the spring of 1960. Coltrane then departed to form his quartet, though he returned for some tracks on Davis's album Someday My Prince Will Come (1961). Its front cover shows a photograph of his wife, Frances Taylor, after Davis demanded that Columbia depict black women on his album covers. In 1957, Davis began a relationship with Frances Taylor, a dancer he had met in 1953 at Ciro's in Los Angeles. They married on December 21, 1959 in Toledo, Ohio. The relationship involved numerous incidents of Davis' domestic violence towards Taylor. He later wrote, "Every time I hit her, I felt bad because a lot of it really wasn't her fault but had to do with me being temperamental and jealous." One reason for his behavior was that in 1963 he had increased his use of alcohol and cocaine to reduce joint pain caused by sickle cell anemia. He hallucinated, "looking for this imaginary person" in his house while wielding a kitchen knife. Soon after the photograph for the album E.S.P. (1965) was taken, Taylor left him for the final time. She filed for divorce in 1966; it was finalized in February 1968. Davis later recalled that "Frances was the best wife I ever had and I made a mistake when I broke up with her."
After returning to New York City, Davis revived his quintet with Adderley and Coltrane, who was clean from his drug habit. Now a sextet, the group recorded material in early 1958 that was released on Milestones (1958), an album that demonstrated Davis's interest in modal jazz. A performance by Les Ballets Africains drew him to slower, deliberate music that allowed the creation of solos from harmony rather than chords. In this form of ballet music, the kalimba was played for a long periods on a single chord, weaving in and out of consonance and dissonance.
By May 1958, he had replaced Jones with drummer Jimmy Cobb, and Red Garland left the group, leaving Davis to play piano on "Sid's Ahead" for the album Milestones. He wanted someone who could play modal jazz, so he hired Bill Evans, a young, white pianist with a background in classical music. Evans had an impressionistic approach to piano. His ideas greatly influenced Davis. But after eight months of touring, a tired Evans left. Wynton Kelly, his replacement, brought to the group a swinging style that contrasted with Evans's delicacy. The sextet made their recording debut on Jazz Track (1958).
Released in August 1959, Kind of Blue was an instant success, with widespread radio airplay and rave reviews from critics. It remains the best selling jazz album of all time. In October 2008, the album reached 4× platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over four million copies in the US alone. In 2009, the US House of Representatives voted 409–0 to pass a resolution that honored it as a national treasure.
During the success of Kind of Blue, Davis found himself involved with the law. On August 25, 1959, during a recording session at the Birdland nightclub in New York City for the US Armed Services, he took a break outside the club. As he was escorting a blonde-haired woman to a taxi, policeman Gerald Kilduff told him to "move on". Davis said that he was working at the club, and he refused to move. Kilduff arrested him and grabbed him as he tried to protect himself. Witnesses said the policeman punched Davis in the stomach with a nightstick without provocation. Two detectives held the crowd back, while a third approached Davis from behind and beat him in the head. Davis was taken to jail, charged for assaulting an officer, then taken to the hospital where he received five stitches. He was released on a $525 bail (US$4,605 in 2019 dollars). By January 1960, he was acquitted of disorderly conduct and third-degree assault. He later stated the incident "changed my whole life and whole attitude again, made me feel bitter and cynical again when I was starting to feel good about the things that had changed in this country".
Davis accepted and worked with Gil Evans in what became a five-album collaboration from 1957 to 1962. Miles Ahead (1957) showcased Davis playing a flugelhorn and a rendition "The Maids of Cadiz" by Léo Delibes, the first piece of classical music that Davis recorded. Evans devised orchestral passages as transitions, thus turning the album into one long piece of music. Porgy and Bess (1959) includes arrangements of pieces from George Gershwin's opera. Sketches of Spain (1960) contained music by composers Joaquín Rodrigo and Manuel de Falla and originals by Evans. The classical musicians had trouble improvising, while the jazz musicians couldn't handle the difficult arrangements, but the album was a critical success, selling over 120,000 copies in the US. Davis performed with an orchestra conducted by Evans at Carnegie Hall in May 1961 to raise money for charity. The pair's final album was Quiet Nights (1962), a collection of bossa nova songs released against their wishes. Evans stated it was only half an album and blamed the record company; Davis blamed producer Teo Macero and refused to speak to him for more than two years. Davis noted later that "my best friend is Gil Evans"; their work was included in the boxed set Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (1996), which won a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes in 1997.
In December 1962, Davis, Kelly, Chambers, Cobb, and Rollins played together for the last time as the first three wanted to leave and play as a trio. Rollins left to join them soon after, leaving Davis to pay over $25,000 (US$211,304 in 2019 dollars) to cancel upcoming gigs and quickly assemble a new group. Following auditions, he found his new band in tenor saxophonist George Coleman, bassist Ron Carter, pianist Victor Feldman, and drummer Frank Butler. By May 1963, Feldman and Butler were replaced by pianist Herbie Hancock and 17-year-old drummer Tony Williams who made Davis "excited all over again". With this group, Davis completed the rest of what became Seven Steps to Heaven (1963) and recorded the live albums Miles Davis in Europe (1964), My Funny Valentine (1965), and Four & More (1966). The quintet played essentially the same bebop tunes and standards that Davis's previous bands had played, but they approached them with structural and rhythmic freedom and occasionally breakneck speed.
In 1964, Coleman was replaced by saxophonist Sam Rivers until Davis persuaded Wayne Shorter to leave Art Blakey. This quintet lasted through 1968. Shorter became the group's principal composer, and the album E.S.P. (1965) was named after his composition. While touring Europe, the group made its first album, Miles in Berlin (1965).
Davis needed medical attention for hip pain, which had worsened since his Japanese tour during the previous year. He underwent hip replacement surgery in April 1965, with bone taken from his shin, but it failed. After his third month in the hospital, he discharged himself due to boredom and went home. He returned to the hospital in August after a fall required the insertion of a plastic hip joint. In November 1965, he had recovered enough to return to performing with his quintet, which included gigs at the Plugged Nickel in Chicago. Teo Macero returned as his engineer and record producer after their rift over Quiet Nights had healed.
In January 1966, Davis spent three months in the hospital due to a liver infection. When he resumed touring, he performed more at colleges because he had grown tired of the typical jazz venues. Columbia president Clive Davis noted that in 1966 his sales had declined to around 40,000–50,000 per album, compared to as many as 100,000 per release a few years before. Matters were not helped by the press reporting his apparent financial troubles and imminent demise. After his appearance at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, he returned to the studio with his quintet for a series of productive sessions. He started a relationship with actress Cicely Tyson, who helped him reduce his alcohol consumption.
Material from the 1966–1968 sessions was released on Miles Smiles (1966), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1967), Miles in the Sky (1968), and Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968). The quintet's approach to the new music became known as "time no changes"—which referred to Davis's decision to depart from chordal sequences and adopt a more open approach, with the rhythm section responding to the soloists' melodies. Through Nefertiti the studio recordings consisted primarily of originals composed by Shorter, with occasional compositions by the other sidemen. In 1967, the group began to play their concerts in continuous sets, each tune flowing into the next, with only the melody indicating any sort of change. His bands performed this way until his hiatus in 1975.
In September 1968, Davis married 23-year-old model and songwriter Betty Mabry. In his autobiography, Davis described her as a "high-class groupie, who was very talented but who didn't believe in her own talent". Mabry, a familiar face in the New York City counterculture, helped introduce Davis to popular rock, soul, and funk musicians. Jazz critic Leonard Feather visited Davis's apartment and was shocked to find him listening to albums by The Byrds, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. He also liked James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, whose group Band of Gypsys particularly made an impression on Davis. Davis filed for divorce from Mabry in 1969, after accusing her of having an affair with Jimi Hendrix.
In a Silent Way (1969) was recorded in a single studio session on February 18, 1969, with Shorter, Hancock, Holland, and Williams alongside keyboardists Chick Corea and Josef Zawinul and guitarist John McLaughlin. The album contains two side-long tracks that Macero pieced together from different takes recorded at the session. When the album was released in July 1969, some critics accused him of "selling out" to the rock and roll audience. Nevertheless, it reached number 134 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart, his first album since My Funny Valentine to reach the chart. In a Silent Way was his entry into jazz fusion. The touring band of 1969–1970—with Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette—never completed a studio recording together, and became known as Davis's "lost quintet".
In October 1969, Davis was shot at five times while in his car with one of his two lovers, Marguerite Eskridge. The incident left him with a graze and Eskridge unharmed. In 1970, Marguerite gave birth to their son Erin.
In March 1970, Davis began to perform as the opening act for various rock acts, allowing Columbia to market Bitches Brew to a larger audience. He was so offended by Clive Davis's suggestion to perform at the Fillmore East that he threatened to switch record labels, but he reconsidered and shared a bill with the Steve Miller Band and Neil Young with Crazy Horse on March 6 and 7. Biographer Paul Tingen wrote, "Miles' newcomer status in this environment" led to "mixed audience reactions, often having to play for dramatically reduced fees, and enduring the 'sell-out' accusations from the jazz world", as well as being "...attacked by sections of the black press for supposedly genuflecting to white culture". The 1970 tours included the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival on August 29 when he performed to an estimated 600,000 people, the largest of his career. Plans to record with Hendrix ended after the guitarist's death; his funeral was the last that Davis attended. Several live albums with a transitional sextet/septet including Corea, DeJohnette, Holland, Moreira, saxophonist Steve Grossman, and keyboardist Keith Jarrett were recorded during this period, including Miles Davis at Fillmore (1970) and Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Fillmore West (1973).
By 1971, Davis had signed a contract with Columbia that paid him $100,000 a year (US$631,306 in 2019 dollars) for three years in addition to royalties. He recorded a soundtrack album (1971's Jack Johnson) for the 1970 documentary film about heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, containing two long pieces of 25 and 26 minutes in length with Hancock, McLaughlin, Sonny Sharrock, and Billy Cobham. He was committed to making music for African-Americans who liked more commercial, pop, groove-oriented music. By November 1971, DeJohnette and Moreira had been replaced in the touring ensemble by drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and percussionists James Mtume and Don Alias. Live-Evil (1971) was released in the same month. Showcasing former Stevie Wonder touring bassist Michael Henderson, who replaced Holland in the autumn of 1970, the album demonstrated that Davis's ensemble had transformed into a funk-oriented group while retaining the exploratory imperative of Bitches Brew.
In 1972, composer-arranger Paul Buckmaster introduced Davis to the music of German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, leading to a period of creative exploration. Biographer J. K. Chambers wrote, "The effect of Davis' study of Stockhausen could not be repressed for long ... Davis' own 'space music' shows Stockhausen's influence compositionally." His recordings and performances during this period were described as "space music" by fans, Feather, and Buckmaster, who described it as "a lot of mood changes—heavy, dark, intense—definitely space music". The studio album On the Corner (1972) blended the influence of Stockhausen and Buckmaster with funk elements. Davis invited Buckmaster to New York City to oversee the writing and recording of the album with Macero. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard jazz chart but peaked at No. 156 on the more heterogeneous Top 200 Albums chart. On the Corner elicited a favorable review from Ralph J. Gleason of Rolling Stone, but Davis felt that Columbia marketed it to the wrong audience. "The music was meant to be heard by young black people, but they just treated it like any other jazz album and advertised it that way, pushed it on the jazz radio stations. Young black kids don't listen to those stations; they listen to R&B stations and some rock stations." In October 1972, he broke his ankles in a car crash. He took painkillers and cocaine to cope with the pain. Looking back at his career after the incident, he wrote, "Everything started to blur."
In December 1975, he had regained enough strength to undergo a much needed hip replacement operation. In March 1976, Rolling Stone reported rumors of his imminent demise, citing his health problems during the previous tour. In December 1976, Columbia was reluctant to renew his contract and pay his usual large advances. But after his lawyer started negotiating with United Artists, Columbia matched their offer, establishing the Miles Davis Fund to pay him regularly. Pianist Vladimir Horowitz was the only other musician with Columbia who had a similar status.
For the double album Bitches Brew (1970), he hired Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, and Bennie Maupin. The album contained long compositions, some over twenty minutes, that were never played in the studio but were constructed from several takes by Macero and Davis. Other studio techniques included splicing, multitrack recording, and tape loops. Bitches Brew peaked at No. 35 on the Billboard Album chart. In 1976 it was certified gold for selling over 500,000 records. By 2003, it had sold one million copies.
In 1978, Julie Coryell interviewed Davis. Concerned about his health, she had him stay with a friend in Norwalk, Connecticut. Davis asked Coryell's husband, fusion guitarist Larry Coryell, to participate in sessions with keyboardists Masabumi Kikuchi and George Pavlis, bassist T. M. Stevens, and drummer Al Foster. Davis played the arranged piece uptempo, abandoned his trumpet for the organ, and had Macero record the session without the band's knowledge. After Coryell declined a spot in a band that Davis was beginning to put together, Davis returned to his reclusive lifestyle in New York City. Soon after, Marguerite Eskridge had Davis jailed for failing to pay child support to their son Erin, which cost him $10,000 (US$39,199 in 2019 dollars) for release on bail. A recording session that involved Buckmaster and Gil Evans was halted, with Evans leaving after failing to receive the payment he was promised. In August 1978, Davis hired a new manager, Mark Rothbaum, who had worked with him since 1972. Despite the dearth of new material, Davis placed in the Top 10 trumpeter poll of Down Beat magazine in 1979.
By 1979, Davis had rekindled his relationship with actress Cicely Tyson, with whom he overcame his cocaine addiction and regained his enthusiasm for music. The two married on November 26, 1981, in a ceremony at Bill Cosby's home in Massachusetts that was officiated by politician and civil rights activist Andrew Young. Their tumultuous marriage ended with Tyson filing for divorce in 1988, which was finalized in 1989.
In October 1979, his contract with Columbia was up for negotiation. Label president Clive Davis was replaced by George Butler, who had visited Davis several times during the previous two years to encourage him to return to the studio. To help his situation, Davis had Buckmaster come over to collaborate on new music. After arriving, Buckmaster organized an intervention for Davis, who was living in squalor among cockroach infestations, in the dark with his curtains always closed. His sister Dorothy cleaned his house with help from Buckmaster, Tyson, and neighbor Chaka Khan. Davis later thanked Buckmaster for helping him.
Having played the trumpet little throughout the previous three years, Davis found it difficult to reclaim his embouchure. His first post-hiatus studio appearance took place on May 1, 1980. A day later, Davis was hospitalized due to a leg infection. He recorded The Man with the Horn (1981) from June 1980 to May 1981 with Macero producing. A large band was abandoned in favor of a combo with saxophonist Bill Evans (not to be confused with pianist Bill Evans) and bassist Marcus Miller. Both would collaborate with him during the next decade.
The Man with the Horn received a poor critical reception despite selling well. In June 1981, Davis returned to the stage for the first time since 1975 in a ten-minute guest solo as part of Mel Lewis's band at the Village Vanguard. This was followed by appearances with a new band, a four-night run at Kix in Boston, and two shows at Avery Fisher Hall on July 5 as part of the Kool Jazz Festival. Recordings from a mixture of dates from 1981, including the Kix and Avery Fisher Hall gigs, were released on We Want Miles (1982), which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Soloist.
In January 1982, while Tyson was working in Africa, Davis "went a little wild" with alcohol, and suffered a stroke that temporarily paralyzed his right hand. Tyson returned home and cared for him. After three months of treatment with a Chinese acupuncturist, he was able to play the trumpet again. He listened to his doctor's warnings and gave up alcohol and drugs. He credited Tyson with helping his recovery, which involved exercise, piano playing, and visits to spas. She encouraged him to draw, which he pursued for the rest of his life.
Davis resumed touring in May 1982 with a line-up that included French percussionist Mino Cinelu and guitarist John Scofield, with whom he worked closely on the album Star People (1983). In mid-1983, he worked on the tracks for Decoy, an album mixing soul music and electronica that was released in 1984. He brought in producer, composer, and keyboardist Robert Irving III, who had collaborated with him on The Man with the Horn. With a seven-piece band that included Scofield, Evans, Irving, Foster, and Darryl Jones, he played a series of European performances that were positively received. In December 1984, while in Denmark, he was awarded the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. Trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg had written "Aura", a contemporary classical piece, for the event which impressed Davis to the point of returning to Denmark in early 1985 to record his next studio album, Aura (1989). Columbia was dissatisfied with the recording and delayed its release.
Many books and documentaries focus more extensively on his earlier work, with 1975 typically being the cutoff date. According to an article by The Independent, from 1975 onwards a decline in critical praise for Davis' output began to form with many viewing the era as "worthless" : "There is a surprisingly widespread view that, in terms of the merits of his musical output, Davis might as well have died in 1975". In a 1982 interview in Downbeat, Wynton Marsalis said: "They call Miles's stuff jazz. That stuff is not jazz, man. Just because somebody played jazz at one time, that doesn't mean they're still playing it." Despite his contempt for Davis' later work; Marsalis' work is "laden with ironic references to Davis' music of the '60s." Davis did not necessarily disagree; lambasting what he saw as Marsalis's stylistic conservatism, Davis said "Jazz is dead... it's finito! It's over and there's no point apeing the shit." Writer Stanley Crouch criticised Davis' work from In a Silent Way onwards.
Also in 1984, Davis met 34-year old sculptor Jo Gelbard. Gelbard would teach Davis how to paint and the two were frequent collaborators and soon romantically engaged.
In May 1985, one month into a tour, Davis signed a contract with Warner Bros. that required him to give up his publishing rights. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis appeared unannounced onstage during Davis' performance at the inaugural Vancouver International Jazz Festival in 1986. Marsalis whispered into Davis' ear that "someone" had told him to do so. Davis responded by ordering him off the stage. Davis had become increasingly irritated at Columbia's delay in releasing Aura. The breaking point appears to have come when a producer at Columbia asked him to call Marsalis and wish him a happy birthday. The tour in 1985 included a performance in London in July in which Davis performed on stage for five hours. Jazz critic John Fordham concluded, "The leader is clearly enjoying himself." By 1985, Davis was diabetic and required daily injections of insulin.
He released You're Under Arrest, his final album for Columbia, in September 1985. It included cover versions of two pop songs: "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson's "Human Nature". He considered releasing an album of pop songs, and he recorded dozens of them, but the idea was rejected. He said that many of today's jazz standards had been pop songs in Broadway theater and that he was simply updating the standards repertoire.
After taking part in the recording of the 1985 protest song "Sun City" as a member of Artists United Against Apartheid, Davis appeared on the instrumental "Don't Stop Me Now" by Toto for their album Fahrenheit (1986). Davis intended to collaborate with Prince, but the project was dropped. Davis also collaborated with Zane Giles and Randy Hall on the Rubberband sessions in 1985 but those would remain unreleased until 2019. Instead, he worked with Marcus Miller, and Tutu (1986) became the first time he used modern studio tools such as programmed synthesizers, sampling, and drum loops. Released in September 1986, its front cover is a portrait of Davis by Irving Penn. In 1987, he won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist. Also in 1987, Davis contacted American journalist Quincy Troupe to work with him on his autobiography. The two had met the previous year when Troupe conducted a 2 day long interview. The interview was then published by Spin as an 45 page article.
In 1986, the New England Conservatory awarded Davis an honorary doctorate for his contributions to music. Since 1960 the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) honored him with eight Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards.
In 1988, Davis had a small part as a street musician in the Christmas comedy film Scrooged starring Bill Murray. He also collaborated with Zucchero Fornaciari in a version of Dune Mosse (Blue's), published in 2004 in Zu & Co. of the Italian bluesman. In November 1988, he was inducted into the Knights of Malta at a ceremony at the Alhambra Palace in Spain (hence the "Sir" title on his gravestone). Later that month, Davis cut his European tour short after he collapsed and fainted after a two-hour show in Madrid and flew home. Rumors of his health were made public after the American magazine Star, in its February 21, 1989 edition, published that Davis had contracted AIDS, prompting his manager Peter Shukat to issue a statement the following day to deny the claim. Shukat revealed Davis had been in the hospital for a mild case of pneumonia and the removal of a benign polyp on his vocal cords and was resting comfortably in preparation for his 1989 tours. Davis later blamed one of his former wives or girlfriends for starting the rumor and decided against taking legal action. He was interviewed on 60 Minutes by Harry Reasoner. In October 1989, he received a Grande Medaille de Vermeil from Paris mayor Jacques Chirac. In 1990, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In early 1991, he appeared in the Rolf de Heer film Dingo as a jazz musician.
Late in his life, from the "electric period" onwards, Davis repeatedly explained his reasons for not wishing to perform his earlier works, such as Birth of the Cool or Kind of Blue. In his view, remaining stylistically static was the wrong option. He commented: "'So What' or Kind of Blue, they were done in that era, the right hour, the right day, and it happened. It's over ... What I used to play with Bill Evans, all those different modes, and substitute chords, we had the energy then and we liked it. But I have no feel for it anymore, it's more like warmed-over turkey." When Shirley Horn insisted in 1990 that Miles reconsider playing the ballads and modal tunes of his Kind of Blue period, he demurred. "Nah, it hurts my lip," was the reason he gave. Bill Evans, who played piano on Kind of Blue, said: "I would like to hear more of the consummate melodic master, but I feel that big business and his record company have had a corrupting influence on his material. The rock and pop thing certainly draws a wider audience." Throughout his later career, Davis declined offers to reinstate his '60s quintet.
Davis has however been subject to criticism. In 1990, writer Stanley Crouch, labelled Davis "the most brilliant sellout in the history of jazz," An 1993 essay by Robert Walser entitled The Musical Quarterly claims that "Davis has long been infamous for missing more notes than any other major trumpet player." Also in the essay is a quote by music critic James Lincoln Collier who states that "if his influence was profound, the ultimate value of his work is another matter," and calls Davis an "adequate instrumentalist" but "not a great one." In 2013 The A.V. Club published an article "Miles Davis beat his wives and made beautiful music," In the article, writer Sonia Saraiya praises Davis as a musician, but criticises him as a person, in particular, his abuse of his wives. Others such as Francis Davis have criticised his treatment of women describing it as "contemptible".
On July 8, 1991, Davis returned to performing material from his past at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival with a band and orchestra conducted by Quincy Jones. The set consisted of arrangements from his albums recorded with Gil Evans. The show was followed by a concert billed as "Miles and Friends" at the Grande halle de la Villette in Paris two days later, with guest performances by musicians from throughout his career, including John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul. In Paris, he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. After returning to America, he stopped in New York City to record material for Doo-Bop, then returned to California to play at the Hollywood Bowl on August 25, his final live performance.
In early September 1991, Davis checked into St. John's Hospital near his home in Santa Monica, California, for routine tests. Doctors suggested he have a tracheal tube implanted to relieve his breathing after repeated bouts of bronchial pneumonia. The suggestion provoked an outburst from Davis that led to an intracerebral hemorrhage followed by a coma. According to Jo Gelbard, on September 26, Davis painted his final painting, composed of dark, ghostly figures, dripping blood and "his imminent demise." After several days on life support, his machine was turned off and he died on September 28, 1991 in the arms of Gelbard. He was 65 years old. His death was attributed to the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. According to Troupe, Davis was taking azidothymidine (AZT), a type of antiretroviral drug used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS, during his treatments in hospital. A funeral service was held on October 5, 1991, at St. Peter's Lutheran Church on Lexington Avenue in New York City that was attended by around 500 friends, family members, and musical acquaintances, with many fans standing in the rain. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City, with one of his trumpets, near the site of Duke Ellington's grave.
In 2001, The Miles Davis Story, a two-hour documentary film by Mike Dibb, won an International Emmy Award for arts documentary of the year. Since 2005, the Miles Davis Jazz Committee has held an annual Miles Davis Jazz Festival. Also in 2005, a London exhibition was held demostrating his paintings, 'The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991' was released detailing his final years and eight of his albums from the 1960s and 70s were reissued in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his signing to Columbia records. In 2006, Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative stamps featuring Davis.
Kind of Blue remains the best-selling jazz album of all time. On November 5, 2009, U.S. Representative John Conyers of Michigan sponsored a measure in the United States House of Representatives to commemorate the album on its 50th anniversary. The measure also affirms jazz as a national treasure and "encourages the United States government to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music". It passed with a vote of 409–0 on December 15, 2009. The trumpet Davis used on the recording is displayed on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It was donated to the school by Arthur "Buddy" Gist, who met Davis in 1949 and became a close friend. The gift was the reason why the jazz program at UNCG is named the Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program.
Miles Ahead was a 2015 American music film directed by Don Cheadle, co-written by Cheadle with Steven Baigelman, Stephen J. Rivele, and Christopher Wilkinson, which interprets the life and compositions of Davis. It premiered at the New York Film Festival in October 2015. The film stars Cheadle, Emayatzy Corinealdi as Frances Taylor, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Lakeith Stanfield. That same year a statute of him was erected in his home city, Alton, Illinois and listeners of BBC Radio and Jazz FM voted Davis the greatest jazz musician. Publications such as The Guardian have also ranked Davis amongst the best. On May 27, 2016, American pianist and record producer Robert Glasper released a tribute album entitled Everything's Beautiful which features 11 reinterpretations of Davis songs.
His approach, owing largely to the African-American performance tradition that focused on individual expression, emphatic interaction, and creative response to shifting contents, had a profound impact on generations of jazz musicians. Musicians and admirers of Davis work include Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Flea, The Roots, Wayne Shorter. In 2016, digital publication The Pudding in an article examining Davis' legacy found that 2,452 Wikipedia pages mention Davis, with over 286 citing him as an influence.
In 2018, American rapper Q-Tip played Miles Davis in a theatre production, My Funny Valentine. Q-Tip had previously played Davis in 2010. In 2019, the documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, directed by Stanley Nelson, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Birth of the cool was later released on PBS' American Masters series.
George Avakian of Columbia Records saw Davis perform at Newport and wanted to sign him to the label. Davis had one year left on his contract with Prestige, which required him to release four more albums. He signed a contract with Columbia that included a $4,000 advance (US$38,176 in 2019 dollars) and a condition that his recordings for Columbia would remain unreleased until his agreement with Prestige expired.
Miles rode horses on his parents' ranch in northern Arkansas. Miles married his third wife Cicely Tyson on November 26, 1981. Miles had four children: Cheryl, Miles IV, Gregory and Erin.
Currently, Miles Davis is 97 years, 0 months and 8 days old. Miles Davis will celebrate 98th birthday on a Sunday 26th of May 2024. Below we countdown to Miles Davis upcoming birthday.