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Funk icon Betty Davis dies, aged 77

RIP to a trailblazing artist

Betty Davis Dies

Betty Davis, a pioneer of the late-1960s and 70s funk scene, has died aged 77. 

According to Rolling Stone, close friend and ethnomusicologist, Danielle Maggio reported that the artist passed away from natural causes in Pennsylvania, USA, on Wednesday 9th February. 

Known for overtly sexual lyrics and an untameable voice, Davis' hits included 'Anti Love Song', 'They Say I'm Different' and 'Nasty Gal'. The iconic funk vocalist famously influenced stars such as Prince and Madonna. 

Davis was born in Durham, North Carolina, but grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 17, she moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology, soon securing a contract to write arrangements for Frank Sinatra. 

Spending time in and around Greenwich Village, she became embedded in the city's music scene, and would release a string of singles up until 1973, when her self-titled debut album arrived on Just Sunshine. Her sophomore LP, 'They Say I'm Different', arrived a year later, with a third landing in 1975, 'Nasty Gal'. It would be more than 30 years before fans got another long form from Davis. 'Is It Love or Desire' was released in 2009, although it ws originally recorded in 1976.

In 1968 Davis married jazz legend Miles Davis, appearing on the cover of his LP, 'Filles de Kilimanjaro' the same year. She is also cited as the inspiration for the track 'Mademoiselle Mabry', and is thought to have introduced her then-spouse to rock music through friendships with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, spurring on experiments in jazz fusion.

The two would stay together for one year, with Betty famously stating afterwards: "I wanted my music to be taken seriously... I wasn’t going to turn into a Yoko Ono or a Linda McCartney.”