Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
10 February 2022

Betty Davis, Funk Pioneer, Dies Aged 77

Betty Davis
Robert_Brenner/Light In The Attic
Spread the love

Betty Davis, the pioneering soul and funk artist, has died aged 77, it has been confirmed by

The statement reads: “At 4:40 a.m. EST on February 9, 2022, visionary singer, songwriter, producer, and fashion icon Betty Mabry Davis began her eternal rest.

Connie Portis, Davis’ friend of 65 years, says, ‘It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multi-talented music influencer and pioneer rock star, singer, songwriter, and fashion icon. Most of all, Betty was a friend, aunt, niece, and beloved member of her community of Homestead, Pennsylvania, and of the worldwide community of friends and fans. At a time to be announced, we will pay tribute to her beautiful, bold, and brash persona. Today we cherish her memory as the sweet, thoughtful, and reflective person she was… There is no other.'”

Betty Davis died in Homestead, Pennsylvania, where she had lived since the age of 10. As a child, Davis participated in talent shows at the Homestead Community Center, attended Park Place AME Church, and graduated from Homestead High School before embarking on dual careers in modelling and the music business. She was one of the first Black models to be featured in Glamour and Seventeen, and she worked for designers Halston, Betsey Johnson, Norma Kamali, and Stephen Burrows.

In 1968, she married jazz great Miles Davis and turned him on to psychedelic rock along with introducing him to Jimi Hendrix, inspiring Miles’ classic 1970 album, Bitches Brew. She left the marriage, determined to carve her own path in the music industry.

A pioneer as a music producer, songwriter and vocalist, Davis released a series of much-loved albums throughout the 70s, including Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different, Nasty Gal and Is This Love Or Desire . Betty’s albums featured an incredible cast of talented musicians, including Greg Errico and Larry Graham of Sly & Family Stone, The Pointer Sisters and Martha Reeves.

The statement goes on, “Davis defied genre and gender by pushing her voice to extremes and embracing the erotic. She articulated a kind of pre-punk, funk-blues fusion that had yet to be normalized in mainstream music – a style that few musicians have come close to replicating. As one of the first Black women to write, arrange, and produce her own albums, Davis was raw, unapologetic, and in full control, a visionary who disregarded industry boundaries and constraints.”

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up