Singer Betty Davis, ‘Queen of Funk,’ Has Died at 77

Betty Davis, the iconic funk singer and who was once married to jazz pioneer Miles Davis, has died at the age of 77, with a close friend citing natural causes.

Iconic funk singer Betty Davis has died at 77

Photo by Baron Wolman/Getty Images

Iconic funk singer Betty Davis has died at 77

Betty Davis, the legendary artist often referred to as the queen of funk, has died at age 77.

The news was confirmed to Rolling Stone by Davis’ close friend Danielle Maggio, an ethnomusicologist whose work focused on the Betty’s music and life. Allegheny County communications director Amie Downs said Davis died of natural causes.

Born in North Carolina, Davis moved to New York City at 16 to go to fashion school, which spawned a modeling career highlighted by her appearances in spreads for magazines like Glamour and Seventeen. After marrying jazz pioneer Miles Davis in 1968, Betty went on to record three solo albums: her 1973 self-titled debut, 1974’s They Say I’m Different, and 1975’s Nasty Gal. She scored two singles on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, with the No. 66 single “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up” and 1975’s “Shut Off the Lights,” which peaked at No. 97.

Betty and Miles Davis divorced after a year of marriage due, which she attributed to his violent, jealous temper.

Speaking to the New York Times in 2018 about her too-brief career, Betty said, “When I was told that it was over, I just accepted it. And nobody else was knocking at my door.”

She went on to say her father’s death changed her priorities. “I went to another level,” Davis explained. “It was no longer about the music or anything, it was about me losing a part of myself. It was devastating.”

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