Betty Davis is one of the great forgotten Funk Rock singers. Apart from making four amazing albums in the seventies she was famously highly influential in pairing up Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis as well as introducing her husband (Miles) to the music of Sly Stone. If it wasn’t for her, Davis’ groundbreaking Fusion as heard on Bitches Brew (that she allegedly named, changing it from Witches Brew) would not have happened – she was the catalyst for a whole new style of music. She appeared on the cover of Miles Davis’ album, Filles De Kilimanjaro and had a song on that album, Mademoiselle Mabry dedicated to her.
Betty Davis, née Mabry, married Miles in 1968 introducing him to all that was hip in fashion and contemporary music but although she was a model, she had her own musical ideas and wrote Uptown on The Chambers Brothers’ successful 1967 album, The Time Has Come. After her marriage with Davis broke down she moved to London and carried on with her modelling career but she got bored and returned to the US to make her self-titled debut produced by Sly And The Family Stone drummer Greg Errico. The album was released in 1973 and features Neal Schon, Larry Graham and The Pointer Sisters amongst others. If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up reached No.66 on the US R&B charts but she was just too risqué for the time. They Say I’m Different was released in 1974 and Nasty Gal in 1975. Her fourth album Crashin’ From Passion remained unreleased for 33 years. It was re-released by Light In The Attic records with a new title, Is It Love or Desire? in 2009. None of her records were commercially successful.
Here’s a quote from Carlos Santana in the liner notes of the Light In the Attic re-issue of her first album:
“She was the first Madonna, but Madonna is more like Marie Osmond compared to Betty Davis. Betty was a real ferocious Black Panther woman. You couldn’t tame Betty Davis”.
Here’s a quote from me:
“Betty Davis is the baddest, funkiest, raunchiest, rawest, greatest Funk singer that ever lived and a record collection without her records is a universe with no stars”.