MILES DAVIS BIOGRAPHY
BIRTH: May 26, 1926,
Alton, Illinois, U.S.
DEATH: September 28, 1991 (aged 65),
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Miles Davis was an American jazz trumpeter, music composer and bandleader. He played significant role in the development of jazz music. During his career he experimented with the of rock music along with jazz.
Miles Davis was born as Miles Dewy Davis III on 26th May, 1926 in Alton, Illinois. His father, Miles Davis, was a dentist surgeon. His mother, Cleota Henry, was a music teacher. He had two younger siblings.
His father gifted him the trumpet when he was thirteen years old. Elwood Buchanan was his mentor. He taught him to play the trumpet without vibrato. He also joined the school band, headed by Buchanan. He later joined Eddie Randle’s orchestra, Blue Devils. Davis even be- came the director of this orchestra.
In 1944, Davis attended Juilliard School (Institute of Musical Arts, then) in New York. In the following year, Davis decided to drop out of Juilliard and pursue a full-time career in music. He began to play with Charlie Parker’s band. From 1945 to 1948, David recorded with Parker.
Davis formed Miles Davis Nonet with eight other musicians in 1948. They released many singles but went unnoticed. It was only with the compilation of major songs in the album, ‘Birth of the Cool’ (1957) that they gained recognition. These songs came to be considered the new innovation in jazz music.
Davis’s ‘Miles Davis Quartet’ was released in 1954. His 1954 performance of “Round Midnight” at Newport Jazz Festival earned Davis a deal with Columbia Records. He also formed a permanent
troupe, The Great Quintet. The major recordings by the quintet include, ‘Live at the Plugged
Nickel’, ‘E.S.P.’ and ‘Miles Smiles’.
In 1959, Davis’ album ‘Kind of Blue’ was released. It is also one of the largest-selling jazz albums. His band members continued to change throughout the years, but his success remained constant.
His albums ‘Miles Ahead’ (1957), ‘Porgy and Bess’ (1957) and ‘Sketches of Spain’ (1960) were collaborated with Gil Evans. Davis’s album ‘Bitches Blue’ was released in 1969. It marked the onset of the jazz fusion movement. Davis became the first jazz musician to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. His important albums from 1970 include ‘Live-Evil ‘ and the soundtrack A Tribute to Jack Johnson’.
In his 1985 album, ‘You’re Under Arrest’, Davis interpreted songs by Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper. It was his last album recorded with Columbia Records.
Davis released his album ‘Tutu’ with Warner Bros. in 1986 for which he won a Grammy Award. His album, ‘Aura’, was released in 1989. He won another Grammy Award for this.
Davis also acted in movies like Scrooged and Dingo. Davis published his autobiography Miles: The Autobiography with Quincy Troupe in 1989. In 1991, Davis played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Miles Davis has been awarded eight Grammy Awards. He even received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998. Davis was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and honored as “one of the key figures in the history of jazz”. He was bestowed with France’s highest civilian honor, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, in Paris. He was also
inducted to the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 1990.
Davis married several times, but all of them ended in divorce. His last marriage was to the American actor, Cicely Tyson, in 1981. They got divorced in 1989. He has fathered four children. Davis passed away on 28th September, 1991 due to respiratory failure and pneumonia. He was 65 years old.
He was also called the “Prince of Darkness” due to his personality and voice. He participated in anti-apartheid albums to show his support against the racist policies. Davis posthumously received his last Grammy Award for his recording with Quincy Jones in 1993. His last album, ‘Doo- Bop’ was released posthumously in 1992. He is considered as the most influential jazz musician in history with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.