US cult funk icon Betty Davis has died aged 77

The musician, who married Miles Davis in 1968, died of natural causes today (February 9)

Betty Davis, the 1960s and ’70s cult funk hero, has died aged 77, it has been confirmed.

Davis, who was married to jazz legend Miles Davis for a year in 1968, died today (February 9) of natural causes, close friend Danielle Maggio confirmed to Rolling Stone.

Davis’ self-titled debut album arrived in 1973, which she then followed up the following year with ‘They Say I’m Different’. Her third and final studio album, ‘Nasty Gal’, was released in 1975.

Though not commercially successful at their time of release, Davis’ music has gone on to be hugely influential in funk circles in the decades to follow.

Born Betty Mabry, she appeared on the cover of Miles Davis’ 1968 album ‘Filles de Kilimanjaro’, and was the inspiration behind his song ‘Mademoiselle Mabry’.

“RIP Betty Davis, the original (and only) nasty gal, famed for being one of music’s greatest muses, but more importantly, one of the funkiest to ever do it,” journalist and author Jeff Weiss wrote in tribute to Davis.

“Her first 3 solo records are sleazy, soulful and raw. Filthy ’70s trash talking of the best kind,” he added.

Other tributes pouring in online in wake of the news include one from American poet Hanif Abdurraqib, who wrote: “Was waiting to get confirmation before sharing anything, but this is sad news. Thankful for Betty Davis, though.

“The reach of her influence & sonic lineage is immense. You’ve heard her, even if you think you’ve never heard her. I’m glad we got her at all.”

See a host of other tributes to Davis from fans and musicians, who have shared photographs of the singer, footage of her performances and more.

Davis returned in 2019 with her final piece of music, ‘A Little Bit Hot Tonight’, which was written, produced and arranged by Davis and sung by Danielle Maggio. Betty: They Say I’m Different, a documentary based on her life, was released in 2017.

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