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Funk powerhouse Betty Davis has died aged 77

Tributes have been pouring in for Betty Davis, who will be remembered for her groundbreaking career as a funk icon.

It was confirmed by Betty Davis’ close friend Danielle Maggio that the US musician died of natural causes overnight, as reported by Rolling Stone.

The influence of her career cannot be underplayed, particularly her innovative vocal style and explicit lyrics that saw her three, long play records become cult classics.

Betty Davis
Credit: Getty Images

Born Betty Mabry, the ‘godmother of funk’ took the surname of jazz superstar Miles Davis when the couple married in 1968.

They ended the marriage after a year but during that time, Betty inspired Miles’ song Mademoiselle Mabry and was also credited for inspiring his transition into jazz fusion in the later years of his career, which proved to be a successful genre-shift.

Despite her short marriage to Davis, Betty didn’t want her individuality as a musician to be undermined. “I wanted my music to be taken seriously,” she said. “I wasn’t going to turn into a Yoko Ono or a Linda McCartney.”

Davis released her debut, self-titled record in 1973, followed by They Say I’m Different in ’74, and Nasty Gal the following year.

At the time of release, Davis’ records did not receive the commercial recognition they undoubtedly deserved. But not long after, her music attracted a worldwide cult following, that appreciated her pioneering songwriting and incredible skillset.

Following her death, tributes have been flowing from musicians and other celebrities, celebrating the 77-year-old and the influential legacy she left behind.

US rapper Biz Markie was among those to pay tribute, tweeting, “RIP Betty Davis, the original (and only) nasty gal, famed for being one of music’s greatest muses, but more importantly, one of the funkiest to ever do it.”

Rest In Power indeed.