When it comes to jazz, there is probably no other person who has contributed more to the popularization of the genre than the late Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, who enjoyed a five-decade career producing music that spanned generations.
Admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Davis was also an outspoken social critic, having posthumously voted his album Kind of Blue (1959), the best-selling jazz album of all time, into the national treasure of the United States House of Representatives. Read on to learn more about his early beginnings, his love life, and his achievements.
Miles Davis was born Miles Dewey Davis III on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois, the son of Cleota Mae Henry and Miles Dewey Davis Jr. The Davis family was well off, owning a 200-acre property in Arkansas with a profitable pig farm. His father continued to work as a dentist, while his mother was a music teacher and violinist.
Davis attended John Robinson Elementary School before joining Crispus Attucks. For his high school education, he attended East St. Louis Lincoln High School. During this time, Davis began to study music intensively, having learned to play the trumpet during his youth. Davis joined the marching band of his school and performed in a number of music competitions, which he won as his popularity grew.
Davis then enrolled at the Institute of Musical Arts, now the Juilliard School, in New York. However, he only spent three semesters at school before deciding to drop out of school to concentrate fully on making music. He first began performing in a number of New York bars and nightclubs before joining the bebop quintet of saxophonist Charlie Parker in 1944, while the rest became history.
The estate of the late Miles Davis is said to be worth $10 million. The trumpeter, who also worked as a songwriter, film music composer, and actor, earned his money mainly with shows and record contracts. More recently, his estate, which is controlled by his children and nephew, has overseen the production of a biopic and control of his publishing rights, which continues to generate income today.
Death: How Did Miles Davis Die?
Miles Davis died at St. John’s Hospital on September 28, 1991, after a few days on life support. Davis had been admitted to the hospital for routine examinations after suffering repeatedly from bronchopneumonia. It was also reported that he was taking antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS at the time. During his consultation with the doctors, Davis was reported to have suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage that led to coma and then death.
His funeral took place on October 5, 1991, at St. Peter’s Church in New York City before he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.
Miles Davis Family – Wife, Children
Miles Davis was married three times but still died a single man because he couldn’t control his demons. The legendary musician was first married to Frances Taylor, a dancer who became an actress and whom he met in Los Angeles. The couple officially began to get together in 1958 before exchanging vows on December 21, 1960. At first, everything seemed rosy until Davis began to physically abuse her after he increased his consumption of alcohol and cocaine, which he believed was the only thing that could relieve the joint pain he had due to his sickle cell anemia.
Despite the horror Taylor was allegedly subjected to, she is said to have always returned to her husband, after running away every time he hit her until she left once for good in 1965. Her divorce was later consummated in 1968. That same year Davis divorced his first wife and married his second wife, Betty Mabry, a then 23-year-old model and songwriter who later became a renowned singer, now considered one of the most influential voices of the funk era.
The marriage began in September 1968 and ended almost soon after Davis accused her of embezzlement. Davis accused his new wife of having an affair with the American rock music guitarist Jimi Hendrix, whom she had introduced to him. Mabry denied the accusations, but this did not stop Davis from filing for divorce in 1969.
After the end of his second marriage, Davis began a relationship with the actress Cicely Tyson, whom he gave credit for helping him in his fight against his alcohol consumption. The two separated later, but in 1979 their romance rekindled. During this time she helped him again in the fight against cocaine addiction by pushing him to make music again. After two years of the relationship, Mrs. Tyson accepted to become Davis’ third wife. The couple then celebrated a somewhat extravagant wedding hosted by politician and civil rights activist Andrew Young at Bill Cosby’s home in Massachusetts. Davis and Tyson shared a house in Malibu, California until their divorce in 1988.
Miles Davis is said to have had a total of four children; daughter Cheryl and sons Gregory, Miles IV, and Erin. Cheryl, Gregory, and Miles Davis IV, who later became known as Muhammad Abdullah, were born to Davis and his high school sweetheart Irene Cawthon Davis-Oliver, while Erin came from his relationship with Marguerite Cantu.