I’m not talking about Betty Davis the Actress – I’m talking about Betty Davis the funk visionary.
She became Betty Davis after being Ms. Miles Davis for one apparently very long year in 1968. Betty Mabry before that. Her influence on Miles cannot be overstated – she was the primary catalyst that helped spark his transition from acoustic jazz to electronic fusion. She was 23 and he was 42. They were both on fire, so it wouldn’t last long. Betty wasn’t going to be subservient to anybody, and that included Miles.
She made 3 albums from 1973-1975, and holy fuck, they were other-worldly good. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know her – I didn’t either until I recently saw the documentary “Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different.” She was so far ahead of her time, there was no way for her to be accepted by the music/entertainment industry. Kind of like a female Prince. In 1973 no one was ready for that.
She was a visionary black woman who was calling the shots. Pop culture had no precedent for her – she must have scared the shit out of record executives.
It’s an interesting and kind of tragic thing to discover artists like this. They appear to be game-changers, and then they’re gone. The world wasn’t yet ready for what they had to say, but they still changed the game from the inside by influencing other artists who heard them.
All hail Betty Davis. Nasty Gal indeed…