Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Miles Davis Flashback

Besides being one of the greatest musicians of all time. Miles Davis was not shy about smacking the shit out of his women and spoke about it in such a blase manner you'd think he was talking about the weather. Of course, it wasn't a big deal for Miles, the women stuck around, most famously Cicely Tyson, the award winning actress but also Francis Davis, a Broadway dancer who gave up her career to be with Miles.

Miles not only abused drugs and alcohol but also women!? I was crestfallen. I struggled with the two images of Miles, one as the brilliant musician whom I had come to admire and the other as a callous woman beater. I didn't like it at all. How could someone whose music I loved and admired be a wife beater? Miles' misguided treatment of women didn't change my mind about his music or his talent as a musician but I did think less of him as person. Miles Davis, woman beater.

There's never been a good reason for a man to put his hands on a woman, ever, not back in 1970s and certainly not now.For an eye-opening account of spousal abuse, read Pearl Cleage's 'Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to the Truth'.


  1. I agree. I'm having the same dilemma with listening to Miles Davis. How can I listen to the music of someone who was so openly ... well ... BAD?

  2. Dont let it get you down. Listen and love Miles's music cause it's good. He might have been a bad cat but he wasn't evil. He was not perfect, but If you would only read books, and listen to music by perfect men (and women), then you would have NEVER listened or read a thing! Ever!!!! So listen and enjoy...

  3. I find "Anonymous"'s comment kind of scary, and I wonder if "anonymous" is a man or woman. This has nothing to do with being "perfect" -- no one's perfect, of course; I think that's obvious. But a man who regularly abuses and injures women, who deliberately injures anybody!, is not only far from "perfect" he isn't even within spittin' distance of mediocre. Miles Davis was a misogynist and a batterer, and if he were around today and up to his old tricks he'd be in jail -- because nowadays that's a felony. Yes, I like a lot of his music also, but my pleasure in it is tainted by my knowledge of how he behaved and what he got away with -- to some extent because he was powerful and famous. And because people like "anonymous" made excuses for him, as in 'so he punched some woman's lights out, nobody's perfect...'

  4. Thanks for the comment Suzanne. I know no one is perfect, I don't expect that. Miles probably was a misogynist but his genius as a musician is somewhat diminished by his reputation as a woman beater. At least for me anyway, "So What" now has a different meaning for me now.

    Sure, people will always make excuses for this kind of behavior when there really isn't one and there will be plenty of women who will stick around for the beatings no matter what.

  5. listen to Charles Mingus or Sam Rivers, who were good to their wives and just as good musicians (if not better composers) than Miles. Yes I just said that. (Yes, Mingus was kind of a dick in general, but at least he wasn't a misogynistic dick.)

    Or just listen to Sam Rivers. He never beat anyone up.