“F.U.N.K.” singer Betty Davis, the former wife of deceased jazz star Miles Davis, died on Wednesday at 77 of natural causes.
“It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multi-talented music influencer and pioneer rock star, singer, songwriter, and fashion icon,” a friend said in a statement.
“Most of all, Betty was a friend, aunt, niece, and beloved member of her community of Homestead, Pennsylvania, and of the worldwide community of friends and fans,” the statement read.
“At a time to be announced, we will pay tribute to her beautiful, bold, and brash persona. Today we cherish her memory as the sweet, thoughtful, and reflective person she was…There is no other.”
Davis was a Wilhelmina model, and trailblazer as one of the first black women to appear in Glamour and Seventeen magazines, before she broke into the music industry in 1964 with the single “Get Ready for Betty.” She married Miles Davis in 1968, and despite the marriage’s brief tenure of a year, kept his surname until her death.
She released most of her body of work, between 1973 and 1975, starting with her self-titled debut, then They Say I’m Different a year later, followed by 1975’s Nasty Gal. None of the albums were commercially successful, but she gained a cult following.
Davis abruptly retired after spending a year abroad with silent monks in Japan, and went decades without recording or performing.
Her unreleased 1976 album Is It Love or Desire was put out more than 33 years later, inspiring singers Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae, and was sampled on tracks by rappers Ice Cube and Talib Kweli.