Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Betty Davis Story Blues

There are people who connect everyone, 'ghosts in the machine;' the nexus of eras, pulling levers and connecting dots but not often credited. There's Warhol, sure, but deus ex machina can be as obscure and influential as Robert Fraser in Swinging London who connected everyone from The Kray Brothers to Paul McCartney to Magritte to Marianne Faithfull. The place and time is impossible to consider without him but it usually is. Not for want of fascination, influence, and epoch-making.
Another great one is Betty Davis, The Queen of Funk, the connection between Hendrix & Miles. Literally. You might even say biblically. Her music across a handful of albums in the Seventies is sexy, intense, nasty funk of the hardest order. She toured relentlessly but her persona riled many up and she met fierce opposition even from black audiences concerned by her sexual imagination. She put it out there, stood her ground, shouted out loud & then was gone. By the late 70s she seemed to disappear completely.
Reissues have brought attention back to her place in modern music beyond being the eternal, or a few years at least, wife of Miles Davis. She is, after all, the Witch in Bitch's Brew, having convinced him to change the W to B. She is a close contemporary and perhaps equal of Sly Stone. She is also the lady bridge between jazz, funk, soul and rock.
Here, in a 2008 remix set to a rare interview, she speaks about her roots, the music business and a bit about San Francisco.

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