She was a BIG FREAK!!
February 17, 2009 3:31 PM   Subscribe

"A wildly flamboyant funk diva with few equals even three decades after her debut, Betty Davis combined the gritty emotional realism of Tina Turner, the futurist fashion sense of David Bowie, and the trendsetting flair of Miles Davis, her husband for a year. ... she turned Miles on to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone (providing the spark that led to his musical reinvention on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), then proved her own talents with a trio of sizzling mid-'70s solo LPs." - All Music Guide (many links nsfw-ish)
posted by Joe Beese (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Joe Beese, you BASTARD. I was gonna do a Betty Davis post.

Oh well, I'm glad you did it! :)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:36 PM on February 17, 2009

For a quick taste, you can also download a couple of loose MP3s from SFGate.
posted by macrone at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2009

Gritty emotional rea....OH, Betty Davis. I always confuse her with Betty White.
posted by DU at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2009

Her LastFM Page with several freely playable tracks.
posted by rongorongo at 4:16 PM on February 17, 2009

posted by Wolof at 4:40 PM on February 17, 2009

When I first heard that radio interview a few months ago, I was anticipating a wit like the music I had enjoyed for so many years but instead heard this taciturn totally blah person. Who the hell was that? Apparently "a traumatized individual who's shut off most of her brain in order to dull a chronic ache."

Another live get down shot.
posted by bonefish at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

What a badass! I had never heard her before. Thanks for posting... I dig.
posted by defenestration at 5:43 PM on February 17, 2009

Great one.
posted by applemeat at 5:50 PM on February 17, 2009

Thanks for the interview link. I recently ran across her reissues at the library. Knowing nothing about her I took one look at the covers and thought she had to be awesome. Absolutely vicious.
posted by well_balanced at 6:16 PM on February 17, 2009

There's a rather famous picture of her with Miles at Hendrix' funeral in Seattle in 1970. Miles usually liked to keep his women under wraps, more or less, so it was the first time most had seen him out anywhere with Betty.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2009

awesome. thank you.
posted by device55 at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2009

And then there were those eyes...

posted by jquinby at 7:31 PM on February 17, 2009

Yeah, I discovered her a few years ago and was more than happy about it. Some verrrry badass shit.
posted by ashbury at 8:14 PM on February 17, 2009

"This is it! This is the real shit!" I love that track.

I always find it kind of jarring to compare Betty Davis' music and persona with Miles' "Mademoiselle Mabry (Miss Mabry)" from "Filles de Kilimanjaro", a gentle Gil Evans retake on "The Wind Cries Mary".
posted by pascal at 8:23 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love posts like this; thanks. That Sound of Young America interview is a bit disappointing (something about the stiffness bothers me; I can't help thinking it could have been a helluva lot more fun) but I guess I can understand being kind of in awe of, and tentative with, her.
posted by mediareport at 8:53 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

mediareport -- Betty hadn't done a broadcast interview in about 25 years. She had barely done an interview of any kind. That's really the most she'd opened up to anyone... when I played it for the folks at her label, they were amazed that I got that much out of her. Frankly, so was I... if you heard the raw tape of that interview, the exteeeeeeeended silences, you'd be shocked. She has lived pretty much in seclusion in the suburbs of Cleveland for 20+ years, so secluded that she wasn't even getting her ASCAP checks, and she interviews like someone who's lived in seclusion for 20+ years. A very kind woman, but the idea of being more fun with her... yeah, it wasn't in the cards.
posted by YoungAmerican at 10:11 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

(oh, and if it isn't obvious, I conducted that interview)
posted by YoungAmerican at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2009

I thought you were talking about the actress! This is good stuff, I had not heard of her before but I am sucker when it comes to soul music.
posted by PeterParker at 11:52 PM on February 17, 2009

What I liked was how she put her hands in her back pockets. Betty Davis style.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:02 AM on February 18, 2009

if you heard the raw tape of that interview, the exteeeeeeeended silences, you'd be shocked.

Ah, that explains part of it; there are a lot of times when you come in very quickly and it sounds like you're stepping on her answers. Those are edits, then.

Still, it's a disappointing interview. I mean, it's obvious she's not being a very helpful interview subject, but you sure didn't give her much in the way of questions to get excited about. She must have so many great, specific stories to tell, and instead we listen for 18 minutes to vague psychobabble like, "Was that a choice to present yourself to the public in a very specific way?" and "Where did you find it in yourself to give these kind of performances when you to that point really hadn't been a performer?" (I dunno, I guess it's just not that weird to me to see someone who's quiet go wild with a stage persona).

the idea of being more fun with her... yeah, it wasn't in the cards.

Jesse, we're 28 minutes in (out of 32!) before you get her talking about the sessions that made her famous and the amazing musicians she worked with. I'm trying to be polite, and do know how hard interviewing can be, but damn, the first mention of Jimi Hendrix during the interview comes from her when you're 2/3 done. That's what I mean by saying it could have been more fun - she was at the heart of at least two legendary music scenes and you don't explore that at all, really; there's no follow-up from you about the people around her during that rich time. The story about her friend dating Mick and Jimi and dying is all we get about the 60s.

We get no stories at all about the people she hung out with during the 70s - nothing about Miles, nothing about anyone else. Was that off-limits? And aside from your giggly response to her early comment about being passionate in bed, you shy almost completely away from the raw sexuality in her music with vague stuff like "Your lyrics are so outrageous..."

No, her lyrics are HORNY. They are ABOUT FUCKING. Can we at least acknowledge that with a little honesty, given who she is and what she's done? Ok, I'm done. It seems obvious that the relatively tepid nature of the interview was at least as much the fault of your questions as her answers. But, it's definitely cool that you got her to talk at all, and probably inspired this post, which *definitely* inspired me to buy her first two records at Amazon last night, and share them with other folks soon. So, for that, a big phat thanks.
posted by mediareport at 5:16 AM on February 18, 2009

I've spent 15 years trying to convince people of how awesome she is... I think I need new friends.
posted by imaswinger at 2:12 PM on February 18, 2009

Also available at emusic
posted by fellorwaspushed at 1:31 PM on February 19, 2009

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