Legendary Funk Singer Betty Davis Passed Away At 77
via Serge Parent / Youtube
Singer-songwriter-producer Betty Davis, a funk pioneer and fashion icon in the 1970s has passed away Wednesday at age 77 in her longtime home of Homestead, Pennsylvania.
Betty was once married to and collaborated with jazz legend and trumpeter Miles Davis. She was credited with inspiring then-husband to more contemporary sounds.
Davis died of natural causes, according to Amie Downs, communications director for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County. Her friend Danielle Maggio, a singer, adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh and associate producer of the 2017 documentary “Betty: They Say I’m Different” confirmed Davis death.
Born Betty Mabry in Durham, N.C., in 1944, Davis moved to New York City in the early ’60s. She enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology, worked as a model and followed her passion for music. Later on, she met future stars like Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.
Dubbed as the “Madonna before Madonna,” Davis was the rare woman to make funk records in the ’70s. Her three albums from that time didn’t reach commercial success, but showcased her fearless personality and sexuality, which inspired some artists in the decades following. Davis, producer Greg Errico, former drummer for Sly and the Family Stone, would call her style “down and dirty funk.”
In 1963, Davis released her first single, “The Cellar,” named after the trendy New York club. The single “Get Ready for Betty” and its B-side “I’m Gonna Get My Baby Back” followed the next year. She also wrote the Chamber Brothers’ 1967 single “Uptown,” which became their first Billboard Hot 100 entry.
When Davis’ music and legacy have been reexamined, she cooperated with the 2017 documentary Betty: They Say I’m Different, she said in 2018:
“I figured it would be better to have them cover me when I was alive than when I was dead.”
Although, her influence was passed across generations from Prince to Erykah Badu to Janelle Monae. Davis did not return to the stage and once said that she wants to leave her fans with their old memories of her. She said:
“With age, your looks change. I want to leave them with what they had.”