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Betty Davis, hard funk pioneer, dead at 77

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Posted at 12:16 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 12:16:57-05

NEW YORK (AP) — Betty Davis, a bold and pioneering funk singer, model, and songwriter of the 1960s and '70s who was credited with inspiring then-husband Miles Davis' landmark fusion of jazz and more contemporary sounds, has died.

She was 77.

The Associated Press reported that she passed away Wednesday after a brief illness.

A longtime friend of Davis told NPR that she had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Sometimes referred to as "Madonna before Madonna," Davis was the rare woman to make funk albums in the 1970s, and her three albums from that time were showcases for her fearless personality and sexuality and insistence on control of her material and her image.

As a model for Seventeen and Glamour, she met Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, the AP reported.

The news outlet reported that the model was also a talented musician releasing her work, which included “The Cellar" and “Get Ready for Betty.”

According to the AP, she also wrote the song “Uptown (to Harlem)” for the Chambers Brothers.

The AP reported Davis dated fellow musicians Eric Clapton and Robert Palmer, but it was her brief time with Miles Davis that she was best known for.

She released no new music for decades, but she was not forgotten.

"Betty Davis" and other '70s albums were reissued, and her music was heard on "Orange Is the New Black" and other TV series.