The son of a prosperous dental surgeon and a music teacher, Miles Davis was born Miles Dewey Davis III on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois. Davis grew up in a supportive middle-class household, where he was introduced by his father to the trumpet at age 13.
Davis played professionally while in high school. When he was 17 years old, Davis was invited by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to join them onstage when the famed mu-sicians realized they needed a trumpet player to replace a sick bandmate. Soon after, in 1944, Davis left Illinois for New York, where he would soon enroll at the Juilliard School (known at the time as the Institute of Musical Art).
While taking courses at Juilliard, Davis sought out Charlie Parker and, after Parker joined him, began to play at Harlem nightclubs. During the gigs, he met several musi-cians whom he would eventually play with and form the basis for bebop, a fast, impro-visational style of jazz instrumental that defined the modern jazz era.
In 1945, Miles Davis elected, with his father’s permission, to drop out of Juilliard and become a full-time jazz musician.
In 1975, Davis was once again drawn into drug abuse (first time was in 1950s), becom-ing addicted to alcohol and cocaine, and subsequently taking a five-year hiatus from his career. In 1979, he met Cicely Tyson, an American actress, who helped him overcome his cocaine addiction. He and Tyson married in 1981.
Honoring his body of work, in 1990, Miles Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1991, he played with Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The two performed a retrospective of Davis’s early work, some of which he had not played in public for more than 20 years.
Later that same year, on September 28, 1991, Davis succumbed to pneumonia and res-piratory failure, dying at the age of 65. Fittingly, his recording with Quincy Jones would bring Miles Davis his final Grammy, awarded posthumously in 1993. The honor was just another testament to the musician’s profound and lasting influence on jazz