Ever since Vibe magazine ran one of those "Props" articles on the former Mrs. Miles Davis, everyone's been clamoring for more info on this "Nasty Gal" of funk. The problem is that there isn't much info to be had.
I've learned that she had a career as a fashion model and singer in the early 60s prior to her Miles Davis (and Jimi Hendrix) affiliations. And even though she and Miles divorced before 1973, Ms. Betty Mabry kept her famous last name and released three fabulously funky discs from '73-'75. (A CD of unreleased 1979 tracks has recently been issued. 2 versions have been put out, Crashin' From Passion and Hangin' Out in Hollywood.)
I hear Betty these days is living in Pennsylvania, happy to be out of the spotlight, despite a persisting rumour that she died a drug addict years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth, but listening to her records, you wouldn't know it. Betty doesn't really sing; she screams and snarls. She takes no prisoners. She writes songs called "Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him" and "If I'm in Luck, I Might Get Picked Up."
It's her wild-woman approach to funk 'n blues that makes her albums fetch the highest collectors' prices of rare groove/funk records. And on the album I managed to find a bargain on ($40!), Betty looks like Angela Davis in space on the front cover, and an Egyptian goddess in day-glo eyeshadow on the back. I guess that makes her a space goddess. Indeed.
Betty Davis--This Is It
Unless otherwise noted, all written material copyright 1999, Melissa A. Weber. All rights reserved.
Git In There, 1974
Betty Davis by Betty Davis, 1973
They Say I'm Different by Betty Davis, Just Sunshine, 1974
Nasty Gal by Betty Davis, Island, 1975
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